Ruby is the July birthstone, also known as the “stone of love”, which symbolizes passion, love and eternity. Ruby embodies three main characteristics of high-grade gems: charming beauty, excellent durability and extreme rarity.
Physical properties of July birthstone: Rare, hard and durable
Ruby is one of the five internationally recognized precious stones (diamonds, rubis, sapphires, emeralds and opals).
The mineral name of ruby is corundum, the main component being alumina, and the red color is caused by chromium, mainly Cr2O3, which accounts for generally 0.1 ~ 3% or 4% at the highest; and sapphire (without chromium) is a collective name for other colors of corundum, appart from the ruby in the corundum family.
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The durability of ruby is mainly due to its excellent hardness and high temperature resistance. Ruby has a Mohs hardness of 9, second only to diamonds, and is the second hardest substance in nature.
At the same time, it can withstand high temperatures of about 2000 degrees Celsius without melting, which is much higher than the ignition point of diamonds- below 1,000 degrees Celsius.
Therefore, whether it is worn every day as inlaid in jewelry pieces or carefully kept in private collections, such a great gem can last a long time without fear of changes in the environment.
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Production sites and rarity of ruby: Mostly from Asia
Natural rubies are mostly from Asia (Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China), Africa (Mozambique, Tanzania), Oceania (Australia), and the America (Montana and South Carolina in the United States).
High quality rubies are extremely rare and extremely difficult to obtain. For example, in Myanmar for every 400 tons of raw ruby ore, only about one carat of them can be screened out. After re-selecting these ruby ores, only one from every 1,000 pieces can reach the gem level in terms of color, clarity and weight.
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Ruby meanings and cultural references
The hot red color of this July birthstone makes people always associate it with passion and love, known as the stone of love, symbolizing the passion, the beauty, eternity and steadfastness of love.
Rubies have been prized and sought after by humans since antiquity. It is the July birthstone and the gift for the 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries. Such precious gemstones are especially prized in Asia, where they used to be buried in the base of buidlings for good luck.
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An early recorded transport and trading of rubies arises in the literature on the North Silk Road of China, wherein about 200 BC rubies were carried along this ancient trackway moving westward from China.
The Bible considers rubies to be the most precious of all gems.
Since ruby is permeated with a strong breath of life and a rich color, people previously thought that it was the incarnation of the undead bird, and had a strong illusion about such a gemstone.
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4 factors affecting value: Color matters the most
The first factor in evaluating and choosing Ruby is color, followed by weight, transparency, and cut. The more vivid and vibrant the red, the more beautiful and valuable the gem becomes.
To be more detailed, the color should be pure and uniform. There eixst multiple colors of ruby, red, orange-red, pink, fuchsia, and dark red. Among them, pure red is the best. Pigeon Blood Red is a pure red without any mottle. In addition, the color should be uniform and avoid visible inclusions.
The most valuable color of ruby: The stunning Pigeon Blood Red
Source: The Graff Ruby, a 8.62 carat cushion cut Pigeon’s Blood Burmese ruby.
Vivid and intense color, purity, high saturation, and brightness
The most valuable color of all rubies is “pigeon blood red”. This vivid and intense color, which can be called crimson, reveals the true face of ruby. Since most rubies appear pale red and have a pink feel, pigeon blood red rubies seem extremely rare and precious. Pigeon blood red ruby has now become a synonym for top quality rubies.
In addition to the purity, high saturation, and brightness, pigeon blood red also gives people a strong feeling of “burning fire” and “flowing blood”.
It is said to be a burning fire because when we closely observe the “pigeon blood red” ruby, we find that the red light of this gem does not mainly come from the reflection of external light sources like ordinary gems, but seems to come from inside the gemstone where it looks like the burning of a certain substance.
This burning feeling is so special that people who have seen the real “blood of the pigeon” ruby will never forget it.
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The red color of this ruby is relatively similar to the fresh blood of adult pigeons
It is said to be blood because experts have compared the red color of this ruby with various red colors in nature, but found that only the blood in the arteries of adult pigeons from Myanmar is relatively similar, This blood must be fresh. Once it leaves the pigeon’s body for more than a dozen seconds, this color can no longer be compared with the “pigeon blood red” ruby.
Pigeon blood red rubies are mainly produced from a legendary mine in northern Myanmar: Mogok. This wonderful valley is surrounded by high mountains and has a radius of only tens of square kilometers, but its special geological environment combined with the history of crustal movement hundreds of millions of years ago makes it a best region to produce rubies.
The rubies produced here have a strong breath of life and a rich color. Whether under natural light or artificial light, they can always emit red light with a fluorescent effect. This near-fabulous color is probably the most intense color created by nature.
Records and famous rubies
The most beautiful ruby: Carmen-Lúcia
The most beautiful ruby in the world is the Carmen-Lucia Pigeon Blood Red Ruby, which weighs 23.1 carats set on a diamond-studded platinum ring.
This ruby, collected by the Smithsonian Museums, also known as the National Museum of American History in the USA, is the largest high-quality faceted ruby currently on display. It originated in Myanmar in the 1930s and later was transferred to Europe. It was finally acquired by an American gem collector in the 1980s.
Ruby symbolizes love, as mentioned above and this unparalleled ruby carries a breathtaking love story too. In 2004, American billionaire Pete Buck donated it to the Smithsonian Museum in the name of his wife Carmen Lucia Buck, who was born in Brazil and met Pete Buck while studying in the United States. They got married in 1978 and this beautiful stone had the luck to witness and protect their happy marriage.
The largest raw ruby: 125West
As of 2020, the 125West is the largest ruby in the world. It is a rough stone and has not yet been polished, measures 4.8 inches x 4.4 inches x 5.27 inches and weighs an astonishing 8.2 pounds, which would be 18,696 carats.
Even in a rough state, this priceless ruby has areas where it is semi-translucent and contains a needle-shaped mineral called rutile. The inclusions of rutile give this ruby a shimmering glow known as “silk”, which is also a distinguished charateristic of star rubies. Star rubies are polished cabochons that seem to have a six-pointed star in the center.
It’s reported that 125West’s owners, whoever they are, have put this world’s larget ruby up for sale.
The largest polished ruby: Neelanjali Ruby
This ruby is a star ruby, and it has not only one star but two, which criss-cross each other in its center. It is allegedly the largest ruby that sports this phenomenon.
Neelanjali Ruby is part of the collection of a gentleman descended from southern India’s fourth Hindu dynasty. This imperial family owned the gem for centuries and worshiped it as a representation of the lingam of the god Shiva.
The Neelanjali ruby weighs 1370 carats, is worth about $100 million and is thought to be in Bangalore, India.
Most rubies weigh a few carats, but once in a while people discover impressively large one. The title of biggest ruby in the world can be controversial, for there are contenders that have been shown to be somewhat mythical.
Guide to choose top notch ruby: Transparency, Colour, Clarity, Cut, Carat.
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Ruby grading standards are mainly based on 1T and 4C: Transparency, Colour, Clarity, Cut, Carat. Usually the more pure and intense the color, the higher the value. To select high quality rubies we should consider the following aspects:
Size: The larger the ruby, the higher its value.
Color: There eixst multiple colors of ruby. The best is the pure Deep Red, followed by Red, Purplish Red, Pinkish Red, and then slightly brown red. In addition, when looking at the ruby from the table, it is best to see only one color when rotating. If you can see other colors, it means that the cut of the ruby is incorrect.
Fire: It is the color displayed on the front of the ruby under the light. It is essentially a reflection of the comprehensive effect of the transparency, cut and color of the ruby. When a good ruby is gently rotated (the table faces you), you can see that there are many small red “flames” flickering in the interior. For high-quality rubies, the fire should account for more than 55% of the entire crown.
Cracks: Since cracks are quite common in rubies, you should try to select rubies with few and fine cracks, especially not those with cracks through the center of the gem.
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Treatments and enhancements of ruby
Heat treatment improves color and clarity: common, acceptable, no special declaration required
About 80% to 90% of the rubies on the market today have been artificially optimized to varying degrees. One of the most common methods is heat treatment.
Heating the ruby to a temperature often results in an improvement in color and transparency, as well as the elimination of some color bands and certain inclusions.
Heating the ruby and cooling it rapidly removes the filamentary inclusions, while slow cooling produces a starburst effect that heals some of the fissures and turns a lower quality ruby into a higher quality ruby.
Since heat treatment is a purely physical method, it is thought to compensate for nature’s shortcomings. This treatment is nowadays generally accepted in the jewelry world. Experts consider it to be acceptable, permissible and equivalent to a genuine natural ruby. Dealers do not need to make a special declaration, they sell them at equivalent prices, and even if they are identified, they are not considered fraudulent.
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Re-dyeing: Dyeing colorless corundum into ruby, not equivalent to natural ruby
This is the so-called diffusion treatment technique. This method involves artificially allowing chromium oxide from chemical reagents to surge into the corundum lattice, thus giving those colorless corundums a red color.
Although its coloring mechanism is exactly the same as that of natural rubies, and it does not fade over time, this method is still considered a post-treatment, and stones treated by such a coloring cannot be sold as equivalent to natural rubies.
Alternatives: Although called rubies, they are actually not.
Red spinels are often mistaken for rubies in nature, as are red garnets, red tourmalines, etc. Red garnets are sometimes called “Arizona rubies” or “Bohemian rubies”. Also, the so-called “Brazilian ruby” is actually a red topaz, and the “Siberian ruby” is a red tourmaline. Although they are called rubies, they are not.
Maintenance and cleaning
Do not place ruby jewelry in the same drawer or jewelry box as other pieces. Because various gems and metals have different hardness, they will wear due to friction.
Like other gemstones, rubies lose their luster when they touch the oil and sweat of our human body. Therefore, if you wear such gems often, you should wash them once a month.
Washing with mild soapy water and a soft brush is the easiest way to clean ruby.
Use wax-free dental floss or toothpicks to remove dirt from the stones and between the grips.
Never use bleach. Chlorine in bleach can cause pitting, decompose the alloy, and even attack the weld. Do not use abrasive detergent or toothpaste for cleaning.
Conclusion on the July birthstone
Thank you for reading this article about the July birthstone, I hope it helps you get the information needed. Feel to share your thoughts below or check other articles on birthstones that we have published.
- January birthstone: Garnet– Protection, Healing, Love and Prosperity
- February birthstone: Amethyst– Honest, Peaceful
- March birthstone: Aquamarine and Blood stone– Calm, Brave, Smart
- April birthstone: Diamonds- Pure and Flawless
- May birthstone: Emerald– Lucky and Happy
- June birthstone: Pearl, Moonstone, Alexandrite– Healthy, Longevity, Richness
- July birthstone: Ruby– Passion, Love, Dignity
- August birthstone: Peridot, Spinel and Sardonyx– Pure, Holy, Protective
- September birthstone: Sapphire– Loving, Honest, Virtuous
- October birthstone: Opal, Tourmaline– Joy, Ease, Blessings
- November birthstone: Citrine, Topaz– Friendship, Hope
- December birthstone: Turquoise, Tanzanite, Zircon– Victory, Luck, Success