The Ruby Returns: All you need to know about July’s fiery birthstone
There is nothing quite like treating yourself to an opulent new piece of jewellery, or the thrill of taking it on its very first outing – but whether visual impact or sheer indulgence is your bag when it comes to selecting your next ring, necklace, or pair of earrings, knowing where to start when it comes to narrowing down the options can prove more difficult than you might expect. With the vast array of stunning options often on display in jewellery stores, it can be tempting to take them all home at once – but few gemstones hold more allure than the mystical ruby. Here, we introduce you to the stunning July birthstone, which has recently returned to the spotlight thanks to a host of celebrity wearers – and the many reasons it should be the next to join your growing collection of beautiful jewellery.
For more than two thousand years, the ruby has been a highly sought after gemstone around the world, and with its vibrant red colour and sparkling brilliance, it certainly isn’t difficult to see why.
But beautiful as it may be, the stone’s appeal goes far beyond appearance alone, and through the ages, it has even been said to possess a variety of mystical powers.
The very first ruby is thought to have been uncovered in India, and to this day, the stone continues to be seen as a highly prized gem. The Sanskrit word for ruby – ‘ratnaraj’ – roughly translates to ‘king of the gems’, and this beautiful stone is one of just four in the world to meet the requirements to be classed as an elite ‘Precious Gemstone’.
Second only to the diamond on the Mohs scale, the ruby scores an impressive rating of 9, making it one of the most durable gemstones of all. Composed of crystallised corundum, it gets its colour from the merest hint of chromium oxide – and is the only derivative of this colourless stone to be given its name. All other colours are considered to be sapphires, with traces of various elements dictating their shades.
Graded first by their intense colour and then by their brilliance and sparkle, the most prized colours for the ruby range from medium-red to dark, purplish-red. The most exceptional ruby colour is known as “pigeon’s blood”, and is especially transparent. This intense, fiery shade of red boasts a subtle hint of blue or purple, giving it a special appeal that is second to none.
Rubies larger than 2.0 carats are extremely rare, and are usually found in the Far East, with the highest quality offerings coming from the Mogok mines in the North of Myanmar. Left untreated, they are extremely valuable stones, and have been known to fetch some very impressive prices at auction. In fact, in November 2014, jeweller Laurence Graff paid a record 8.2 million Swiss francs (£5.46 million) to re-purchase the 8.62-carat “pigeon’s blood” ruby which bears his name.
According to folklore, the ruby is a symbol of enduring love – which is unsurprising, due to similar associations with the colour red. Believed to enhance passion and the powers of seduction, the ruby is a desirable gem for those in search of romance, but it is also thought to offer protection from evil forces and is worn by royalty as a symbol of power.
This incredible stone is also thought to have healing powers, purging the body of toxins and revitalising energy when rubbed upon the skin. It is said to stimulate the heart Chakra and improve blood circulation – though patients are warned not to use rubies near the Solar Plexus area, due to possible harmful effects.
In Russia, Ivan the Terrible believed that the ruby gem was therapeutic for the heart and mental acuteness. In the 13th century, ground rubies were considered beneficial for liver problems – a bold selection of claims for this decadent stone.
Said to be one of the rarest of the big three — rubies, sapphires, and emeralds — this beautiful crimson rock is July’s birthstone, so if ever you needed an excuse to treat yourself, there has never been a better time.
Failing that, it is also the 40th and 50th anniversary gemstone – so if you’re hoping for a truly special gift to celebrate, then it’s time to let him know.
The selection of stunning pieces of ruby jewellery featured in this article can be bought from Devon-based jeweller, Michael Spiers. To find out more, visit: michaelspiers.co.uk/store/