If you’re a July baby then the ruby, the king of all gems, is your birthstone, and it’s not hard to see why it has achieved such royal status. The ancient Sanskrit word for ruby translates to “king of precious stones” and the gemstone has become one of the most prized throughout history, symbolizing love, bravery and wealth. Next to diamonds, they’re one of the most expensive gemstones in the world.
Large rubies are harder to find than large diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. As a result, rubies’ value increases with size more than any other gemstone.
It’s the month of the ruby, so if you have a birthday coming up—or just happen to love the color red—read on for everything you need to know about the gem. We’ve also included some beautiful ruby jewelry you can shop, even if you’re just looking for the perfect July birthday present, while learning a little more about July’s birthstone.
The name of ruby comes from the Latin word for red, rubeus.
Aside from being the birthstone of July, ruby is also the gem for the 15th and 40th anniversaries. Like the sapphire, it’s made from the mineral corundum but chromium is the trace element that causes a ruby’s red color: the more chromium, the stronger the red color. Chromium can also cause fluorescence, which adds to the intensity of the ruby’s red color.
One of the rarest varieties is a “star ruby,” caused by crystal inclusions that when hit by light, appear in the stone as a six-point star, according to Stylecaster.
The most renowned rubies, like those from Myanmar, the Himalayas, and northern Vietnam, typically form in marble, according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Marble has a low iron content so the rubies that form in marble lack iron and because of this, many have an intense red color. Most rubies are said to be mined in Burma, while others are found in numerous locations around the world including Mozambique, Pakistan, Vietnam, Malawi and Sri Lanka.
On the Mohs Hardness scale a ruby is a 9.
Rubies have been long associated with royalty and many medieval Europeans wore the gemstone to guarantee health, protection, wealth, wisdom, and success in love.
The Mogok valley of Upper Burma is Myanmar’s legendary valley of rubies, according to GIA, and it is the source of many of the world’s most amazing gemstones. Warriors in Burma would implant rubies into their skin before battle for protection and courage on the battlefield.
Early cultures held rubies in high regard and associated it with wealth and life because of their similarity to the redness of the blood. Ancient Hindus believed that if you offered rubies to the god Krishna you were granted rebirth as emperors, while people in India believed that those who owned rubies would live in peace with their enemies.