Learn about Rubies
Rubies can command the highest per-carat price of any colored stone. This makes ruby one of the most important gems in the colored stone market. In its purest form, the mineral corundum is colorless. Trace elements that become part of the mineral’s crystal structure cause variations in its color. Chromium is the trace element that causes ruby’s red color.
Ruby Birthstones & Anniversaries
Ruby is the birthstone for July and the gem for the 15th and 40th anniversaries.
Overview of Rubies
Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum, colored by the element chromium. All other colors of gem-quality corundum are called sapphire, which means color is key for this royal gemstone.
Accordingly, the name “ruby” comes from rubeus, the Latin word for red. In ancient Sanskrit, ruby translated to ratnaraj, which meant “king of precious stones.” These fiery gems have been treasured throughout history for their color and vitality.
The chromium that gives ruby its red color also causes fluorescence, which makes rubies glow like a fire from within. Paradoxically, chromium is also what makes this gem scarce because it can cause cracks and fissures. Few rubies actually grow large enough to crystallize into fine quality gems, and these can bring even higher prices than diamonds.
Burma’s Mogok Valley historically produced the finest ruby material, famous for its deep blood-red color with purplish hues. These Burmese Rubies, also called Pigeon’s Blood Rubies, command a premium over brownish or orange-tinged varieties from other regions.
The Mong Hsu region of Myanmar began producing rubies in the ‘90s after discovering that heat treatment improved the color saturation. Other ruby deposits exist in Vietnam, Thailand, India, parts of the Middle East, East Africa, and even the United States.
Tough and durable, ruby measures 9 on the Mohs scale. Diamond is the only natural gemstone harder than ruby.
Ruby’s strength and red fluorescence make it valuable for applications beyond jewelry. Both natural and synthetic rubies are used in watchmaking, medical instruments, and lasers.
History of Rubies
Symbolic of passion, protection, and prosperity, ruby gemstones have been revered since ancient times. Rubies have been particularly prized in Asian countries. Records suggest that rubies were traded along China’s North Silk Road as early as 200 BC. Chinese noblemen adorned their armor with rubies because they believed the gem would grant protection.
Burma has been a significant ruby source since at least 600 AD. Burmese rubies are still some of the most prized of all ruby gems.
After classical Burmese mines were depleted, the Mong Hsu region of Myanmar started producing rubies in the 1990s. Though these lacked the rich red hue of traditional Burmese rubies, they were treated with heat to improve saturation and transparency. Heat-treated rubies is a common practice nowadays.
Though ruby has a long history, it wasn’t recognized as a variety of corundum until 1800. Prior to that, red spinel, tourmaline, and garnet were also believed to be ruby. Even the Black Ruby, one of the famed crown jewels of England, was considered one of the largest cut rubies until determined to be spinel.
Imitation ruby dates back as far as Roman times, though it wasn’t synthesized until the early 1900s.
The red fluorescence power of ruby helped build the first working laser in 1960. Rubies—both natural and synthetic—are still used to make lasers, as well as watches and medical instruments.
Frequently asked questions about Ruby gemstones
Learn more about colorful gemstones, their symbolism, which stone represents your birthstone, which stone to celebrate an Anniversary with and more ways to incorporate colorful gems in to your jewelry box.
Visit us in any Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry location to browse a more robust assortment of ruby earrings, ruby necklaces, ruby bracelets, David Yurman ruby jewelry and many more. Shop more jewelry trends at any Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry store near you. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry store is located inside the Mall of Louisiana and there is also a Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry store located at the corner of Corporate Boulevard and Jefferson Highway near mid-city. In Lafayette, Louisiana, a Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry store is located on Ambassador Caffery. In Shreveport, Louisiana, a Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry store is located on Youree Drive at East 70th. Just outside of New Orleans, Louisiana, in Metairie, a Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry store is located on Causeway Boulevard at Lakeside Shopping Center. In San Antonio, Texas there are two Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry stores. Find one at The Shops at La Cantera and another located inside the Northstar Mall on San Pedro Avenue. In Jackson, Mississippi, visit a Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry store located at the Renaissance at Colony Park on Highland Colony Parkway. Visit the newest Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry store, located in ABQ Uptown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.