July Birthstone: Ruby
Introduction: Colors and history
Few things are bewitching as the July birthstone – Ruby. The king of gemstones, representing love, wisdom, and health, Ruby is the perfect choice for our July-born readers. July’s birthstones are connected with the zodiac signs for this month: Cancer and Leo. Red, the color of intensity and desire, is what defines Ruby. The name Ruby descends from the Latin word “ruber” which means red.
Finding its way into ancient texts, Ruby is one of the most historically significant colored stones. It is talked about in the Bible, in conjunction with values like beauty and wisdom. In Sanskrit, Ruby is called the “ratnaraj” or “king of precious stones.”
Legends of rubies
The king of precious stones is tied to many legends, people in India believed rubies enabled their owners to practice peace with their enemies. In Myanmar, a prominent source of ruby since 600AD, it was believed that rubies made warriors invincible in battle. They believed that they had to insert rubies into their flesh and make them part of their bodies to avail these powers.
Historical records show that rubies were traded in China as early as 200 B.C. They are primarily mined in Burma, Madagascar, India, Srilanka and Eastern Africa.
Chemical Composition of rubies
Ruby is the variety of the Corundum group. The Chemical composition of Corundum is aluminum oxide. This is mainly colorless, consisting of oxygen and aluminum atoms. However, the removal of some aluminum atoms, and the addition of other materials, give it different shades of red, reddish pink, brown red, purple, maroon.
The passionate dark red color of ruby comes from bits of chromium. The orange and lighter shades are made with chromium and ferric iron.
Rubies have many types and cuts– Star ruby, which exhibits asterism, a six-rayed star that shimmers when it is moved. Faceted ruby, a type of cut producing many facets, versus Cabochon, rubies without any facets. Trapiche, a type that consists of 6 radial lines, comes from the center of the ruby.
By country of origin, rubies can be categorized into Afghanistan, African, Indian, Madagascar, New Burma, Sri Lankan, Old Burmese, Tanzania, and Thailand rubies.
Astrology and rubies
According to Vedic Astrology, Ruby relates to the planet Sun. The Sun is the strongest planet in the solar system. Ruby bears the quality of the sun, people who have a good sun placement must wear rubies to increase the auspiciousness of the sun. A robust physical stature, strong skeleton, willpower, and self-reliance are boons of the sun, which the wearer of ruby is blessed with.
Rubies heal with their passion and vitality. It increases motivation, stimulates tantric energies, and builds the Kundalini energy. It feeds the spirit of exploration, new ideas, and aids in opening the heart chakra.
The gemstone should be worn where the sunline is found, a mount of sun located just below the ring finger after Prana Pratishtha, in the ring finger – in gold or copper.
Ruby is a Hexagonal crystal system, with no true cleavage, made from the material corundum, with an RI of 1.760-1.768 to 1.770-1.779 and specific gravity of 3.9 – 4.1. Ruby’s hardness on the Mohs scale is 9. It’s the next hardest stone after diamond. It displays conchoidal fracture characteristics, with a luster that is generally vitreous. It also displays pleochroism, with purple-red or orange-red tints.
It’s a robust gemstone to wear daily.
Some of the most famous rubies include The Liberty Bell Ruby, the largest mined ruby, found in East Africa in the 1950s. It weighs four pounds, is eight and a half thousand carats. It is a single piece of ruby that was carved into a bell shape, surrounded by a white diamond border. It was stolen from Stuart Kingston Jewelers in Wilmington, Delaware during the 2011 heist.
The Graff Ruby was purchased by Laurence Graff, in 2014, for 8 million dollars. It is Burmese ruby, with the coveted “pigeon blood” color. Another addition to this is the Hope ruby sold at 6.7 million dollars, by American-born billionaire Lily Safra, auctioning her jewelry at “Jewels of Hope Auction” in May of 2012.
Identification of rubies
Being one of the most sought-after gemstones, identifying real rubies from man-made or its simulants is important. A simulant could mean anything – from a garnet, which is a dark silicate material, to composite rubies, which are real rubies mixed with glass to name a few. Real rubies have a red, vivid glow to them, they also have very few distinguishable inclusions which helps us to separate from simulants. . Although, absolute perfection likely indicates a fake like glass or simulants.
Rubies are extremely hard; they can only be scratched using a diamond. Hence, anything that produces scratches with a coin or a knife or releases color after being scratched, is not a real ruby.
Treatments of rubies include heating, heating with additives, filling, and irradiation. Heating is also referred to as Bata Kumbala, the process of heating the gemstone to improve color or clarity. Heating with additives is done to develop different colors, often rare to find naturally. Filling the stone involves injection with oils, resins, and high-density glass to hide cracks inside the stone – it gives the stone a completely different glow.
Per-carat prices of rubies are rising consistently, depending on origin, treatment, color, and weight. Color being the most significant factor in deciding its value – finest rubies have a deep red to slight pink vibrant glow to them. For example, the most expensive rubies are from Burma, carrying the pigeon bloodstone color.
They are also expected to have some inclusions, and the value can change depending on how visible they are. Inclusions also compromise the structural integrity of the stone, decreasing the durability. Clarity is another important parameter deciding the jewel’s price, even the most sought-after rubies carry these inclusions, and they do not considerably alter the price of the ruby. The color is majorly the deciding factor in such cases.
Interestingly, unlike other gems, the price of ruby is highly dependent on the country of origin. For centuries, Burmese rubies have garnered fame and value, commanding double the price of similar counterparts. As with other gemstones, artificial lab-created rubies offer more clarity, fewer inclusions typically of synthetic grown, an occasional bubble at most, yet lower quality rubies are valued far more than these synthetic ones.