Classification: Precious Stone
Colour: Red (various hues of red)
Transparency: Transparent – Translucent
There is nothing quite like a vivid illustrious red ruby. The colour itself symbolizes humanity’s most intense emotions: love, lust, anger, and passion. So of course, the gem would be associated with power, desire, and ferocity. Rubies are stones that check all the boxes, meaning, durability, beauty, and intrigue. It is a stone that has insighted strength, prosperity, and desire in all of those that have worn it. Historically rubies have been used in different ways but with very similar intentions. Whether as a symbol of wealth, power, or vigor rubies have been potent symbols for many ancient cultures across the world.
If pearls are the queen of the gems, rubies are the kings. Do doubt due to the vibrant and dominant colour, as well as it being extremely durable. The people of ancient India even declared the blood-red gem as such by calling it the “ratnaraj” (literally the “king of precious stones”).
The name ruby is derived from the Latin word ruber, meaning, surprise surprise, “red”. The brilliant rouge glow of rubies was often associated with an inextinguishable flame. The ancient Greeks believed that that fiery glow could be seen through clothing and could even boil water and melt wax.
The stone’s high level of hardness resulted in it becoming a symbol of strength and masculinity in many cultures. In 600 A.D. Burma/Myanmar warriors would imbed rubies into their flesh as a means of making themselves invincible. The jewel became very popular in with male noblemen in Europe because of its domineering aura.
Rubies also have a particularly strong presence in Hinduism. Hindus would gift the god Krishna with rubies, believing that the god would bless them with a position in power in their next life. Hindus also believed that anyone in possession of an ideal “Brahmin” ruby would be granted absolute safety.
Rubies have been considered extremely valuable ever since they were first traded. The first record of rubies being used in trade is as early as 200 B.C. along the silk route, near China. Chinese noblemen would often put ruby gems in the foundation of their homes to ensure they and their family were prosperous. After the establishment of the western world rubies became the most sought-after gemstone by European royalty and the upper classes. Even to this day rubies are considered one of the most precious stones out there and are seen as just as valuable by modern standards as they were in ancient times. The stones ancient connotative symbolism of wealth, love, and success draws us in just as much as its vibrant notorious colour.
To describe the colour of a ruby is to describe the colour of red itself. It is a piercing and unignorable colour that invades one’s world, making everything around you explode with intense life. Whether it ignites a feeling of passion, fear, frustration, anxiety, strength, or warmth, it is a colour that stirs a fire within the soul. The colour of a ruby is so iconic that it’s used to describe an entire colour classification. Ruby red. I say that, and you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Red is distinct to rubies, because it is what makes a ruby, a ruby. The term “ruby” is used to describe the red variant of the stone family corundum, which in any other colour is called a sapphire (this is included the padparadscha colour). That’s right, rubies and sapphires are a part of the same family. The only thing that distinguishes between the two is their colour.
A corundum is defined as a ruby if it is red and/or a shade of red. However, one of the greatest debates in the gemological community is whether a pink corundum is a ruby or a pink sapphire. Many professionals debate over the borderline between ruby and pink sapphire for various reasons. This is due to the stark difference between a bright pink corundum and a rich red ruby. It has now been established that it simply depends on where you are in the world. In some gem-producing countries, like Sri Lanka, the pink stones are considered rubies, while in gem-consuming countries like Canada and the USA the jewel would be classified as a pink sapphire. In the end a lot of it comes down to personal perception.
The most ideal colour for a ruby would be that of a pigeon blood ruby also simply, and less disturbingly, called Burmese rubies. The colour of the gems from Burma/Myanmar is just the right balance of purple, red, and orange hues and it’s considered the ideal red. These of course tend to be the most expensive. The most expensive ruby on record is the Sunrise Ruby weighing at 25.59cts. Set in a Cartier ring the stone is a natural pigeon blood red ruby from, you guessed it, Burma. The ring sold for an incredible 30 million US dollars and holds the world record for any coloured gemstone at auction.
Rubies have been sourced from Burma for centuries, ever since at least 600 A.D. Now red corundum gem deposits can be found all over the world in places like Thailand, India, Afganistan, Brazil, Colombia, Tanzania, Vietnam, Nambia, Scotland, Greenland, and Japan.
Sitting at a solid 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness all corundum stones (including rubies and sapphires) are one of the hardness gemstones available. Thus, making the rich rouge stone a great choice for everyday wear. It takes a lot to damage this piece and a lot of sun damage to drain the jewel’s vibrant colour.
This also means that rubies can be put in any setting and can make a great alternative to diamonds for engagement rings.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Because rubies are so tough, what with a level 9 of hardness, that means that rubies are extremely easy to clean and maintain. The red gem can go in any cleaning solution and can take a somewhat tough professional cleaning treatment, as well as take any heat from any soldering repairs.
For general everyday maintenance you can use a general cleaning solution for gold and/or silver, whatever is best for the setting. You can also use gentle detergent and a soft bristle brush to get any dirt out that has built up over time and use.
Even though the rich saturation of the jewel is stable, it’s still best to keep it, along with any coloured gem in a dark place when you’re not using it. Jewelry boxes aren’t just frivolous things you know. They’re a necessity when it comes to properly caring for your jewellery.
As a gemstone that has as rich of a history as it does a colour the ruby is a jewel that makes a statement and leaves an impression like none other. The incorporation of the stone or even just its colour can make absolutely anything iconic. Whether it’s a Cartier ring, a bold timeless lipstick, or a pair of slippers on a young girl from Kansas, this is a colour and a stone that will never go unappreciated.