What is a Ruby?
Ruby is distinguished for its bright red color, being the most famed and fabled red gemstone. In addition to its bright color, it is a most desirable gem due to its hardness, durability, luster, and rarity. 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. Transparent Rubies of large sizes are even rarer than Diamonds!
A Ruby consists of the mineral corundum, which is colorless, by nature. Chromium is the trace element that causes Ruby’s red color. Gemologists consider it the “rock star” of trace elements! In essence, Ruby is a red Sapphire, since Ruby and Sapphire are identical in all properties except for color. However, because of the special allure and historical significance, Ruby has always been classified as an individual gemstone.
The most renowned Rubies, like those from Myanmar, the Himalayas, and northern Vietnam, typically form in marble. They’re found in layers that are distributed irregularly within the surrounding marble. Marble forms as part of the metamorphic (rock-altering) process, when heat and pressure from mountain formation act on existing limestone deposits.
In other locations, Rubies can be found in basalt rocks. Rubies from these sources can have higher iron content, which can make the Rubies darker and less intense in color. Higher iron content in the chemical makeup of a Ruby can also mask the red fluorescence, eliminating that extra glow of red color seen in marble-hosted Rubies.
Physical & Spiritual Healing Properties
Red is the color of our most intense emotions—love and anger, passion and fury. It’s associated with objects of power and desire—like fast cars and red roses. Early cultures treasured Rubies for their similarity to the redness of the blood that flowed through their veins, and believed that rubies held the power of life.
Ruby has accumulated a host of legends over the centuries. People in India believed that Rubies enabled their owners to live in peace with their enemies. In Burma (a ruby source since at least 600 AD—now called Myanmar), warriors possessed rubies to make them invincible in battle. However, it wasn’t enough for them to just wear the Rubies. They had to insert them into their flesh and make them part of their bodies!
Rubies stimulate circulation and amplify energy and vitality to the whole system. Their intense energy sharpens the mind, bringing a heightened awareness and excellent concentration. It promotes a courageous attitude, and may increase one’s success in controversies and disputes.
Ruby retained its importance with the birth of the western world and became one of the most sought-after gems of European royalty and the upper classes. Many medieval Europeans wore Rubies to guarantee health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love.
Desire for Ruby is just as great today as it always has been. As a symbol of passion, Ruby makes an ideal romantic gift. Consumers are drawn to the lush color because it also signifies wealth and success.
How to care for your Ruby
Corundum (Ruby and Sapphire) is relatively hard: 9 on the Mohs scale (one less than the hardest – Diamond!). Corundum is stable under normal wearing conditions, which means it’s resistant to the effects of heat, light, and common chemicals. However, fracture-filled, cavity-filled, and dyed stones can be damaged by even mild acids like lemon juice.
Warm soapy water is always safe. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe for untreated and heat-treated stones. Fracture-filled, cavity-filled, or dyed Rubies should only be cleaned with a damp cloth.
Today’s fracture-filled stones have surface-reaching fractures filled primarily with a high-lead content glass. There are large numbers of these treated Rubies in the market and they require greater care than an untreated, heat-treated Ruby. The glass can be damaged through contact with a variety of chemicals. Even relatively mild substances like lemon juice can cause changes in the high-lead content glass.