Rubies are known for their stunning red color, ranging from a pure, vibrant hue to a darker tone that takes on a slightly purplish look. Red has long been associated with some of our deepest emotions, such as love, passion, fury and desire. In addition to being the birthstone for a July birthday, ruby is also the traditional gift for the 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries.

History of Rubies

Rubies have been renowned since ancient times. Early cultures revered rubies as holding the power of life because their color was so similar to that of blood. In Sanskrit, ruby translates as “the king of gems.” Evidence of rubies as gifts to kings, emperors and other important dignitaries exists throughout history.

In Hindu cultures, people believed that if they gifted rubies to the god Krishna, they would be reincarnated as emperors. Warriors in Myanmar (then known as Burma), believed that inserting rubies into their skin would make them invincible in battle. The Chinese held a similar belief, using rubies to adorn their armor.

In Latin, the name ruby comes from the word “ruber,” which means red. Ancient Romans believed the glowing red color of rubies meant that a flame was burning within the stone. The stone was even said to be able to boil water. Similarly, Greek culture claimed that the warmth of the rubies could melt wax.

In the Bible, ruby was one of the stones in the high priest’s breastplate. In Proverbs 31:10, the price of a virtuous woman is said to be “far above rubies.”

Evaluating Rubies

As the red variety of the mineral corundum, ruby has a hardness of 9 on the Moh’s scale. In the world of gemstones, the hardness of rubies is exceeded only by that of diamonds. Because of their rarity, rubies claim the highest price per carat of any colored gemstone. In 2015, a ruby weighing over 25 carats sold for more than $1.2 million per carat for a total of $32.4 million.

In determining the value of a ruby, the color of the stone is the most important factor, but it is also evaluated by the size and cut of the stone as well as the geographic region where it was mined.

The amount of chromium that is present in a ruby determines the strength of the color. The more chromium, the stronger the color. The purity and intensity of the color makes this stone more valuable. Stones that lean more towards brown, orange or pink hold less value than the pure red ones. Some rubies contain cat’s eye or star patterns in their centers as the result of natural imperfections, making them even more valuable.

The strength and red fluorescence of ruby makes it valuable for other uses beyond jewelry. Both natural and synthetic rubies can be used in watchmaking, lasers, medical instruments and so much more.

Famous Rubies

The famous ruby slippers from the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, are perhaps the best-known appearance of rubies in popular culture. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the film, renowned jeweler Harry Winston created ruby slippers set with 4,600 real rubies.

The Richard Burton ruby is another famous gemstone. Burton gave this 8.24-carat ruby and diamond ring to Elizabeth Taylor in 1968. After Taylor’s death, the ring sold at auction for $4.2 million.

The Rosser Reeves Star Ruby is a massive 138.72-carat stone from Sri Lanka. Rosser Reeves was known for carrying the stone around with him for good luck. It currently rests in the collection at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.

Before modern gemology, any red gemstone was often called a ruby. For example, the Black Prince’s ruby, which is set in the front of Great Britain’s Imperial State Crown, is actually a 170-carat red cabochon spinel.

Custom Ruby Jewelry

At Worthington Jewelers, you can find all the ruby jewelry you need for that special someone with a July birthday. You are welcome to choose from our existing collections, or you can work with us to design the perfect custom piece. Our designers will be more than happy to help you create jewelry that your loved one will cherish forever. Stop by our shop today to get started.