Ruby is the birthstone for July
July was named by the Roman Senate in honor of the Roman general, Julius Ceasar, as it was the month that he was born in. Prior to that, it was called Quintilis.
Symbolic of passion, protection, and prosperity, the ruby has been revered and loved since ancient times.
Sold for over $30M USD
The Sunrise Ruby was named after a poem by the 13th-century poet Rumi. This cushion-cut red beauty weighs 25.59 carats and sits in a Cartier ring flanked by shield-cut diamonds. In 2015, this Myanmar ruby sold for $30,420,000, or more than a million dollars per carat, to a private collector.
Rubies have been particularly loved in Asian countries. Records have shown that rubies were traded along China’s North Silk Road as early as 200 B.C. Chinese noblemen would have their clothes adorned with rubies on them because they believed the gem would protect them. Many people buried rubies beneath building foundations because they believed it would bring them good fortune.
Ancient Hindus believed they would be reborn as emperors if they offered rubies to the god Krishna. In Hindu folklore, the glowing fire within rubies burned so hot that they allegedly boiled water. Greek legends similarly claimed that ruby’s warmth could melt wax.
Ruby has a hardness of 9 on the 1 to 10 Mohs scale. (10 being the strongest) This helps us determine how much we can wear a gemstone without having to worry that it will be harmed by wear and tear.
According to the International Gem Society, large, gem-quality rubies can be more valuable than comparably sized diamonds and are certainly rarer. In fact, smaller blue sapphires (1-3 carats) are relatively abundant compared to small, gem-quality rubies. As a result, even small rubies have relatively high values.
Most rubies are “native cut” in their country of origin. High-value ruby rough is tightly controlled and rarely makes its way to custom cutters. Occasionally, such native stones are recut to custom proportions, albeit at a loss of weight and diameter. Custom-cut and recut stones usually have higher values per carat than native or commercial-cut stones.
In Burma—a significant ruby source since at least 600 AD—warriors believed that rubies made them invincible. They even implanted rubies into their skin to grant them protection in battle.
Many cultures also admired ruby as a symbol of love and passion. Rubies have long been considered the perfect wedding gem.
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.
After classical Burmese mines 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 which is a common practice nowadays.