Ravishing Ruby, July’s Birthstone of Passion, is the King of Gems

Ravishing Ruby, July’s Birthstone of Passion, is the King of Gems

The intense red of the ruby, July’s birthstone, evokes strong emotions: passion, love, and fury. In fact, early civilizations equated its color with blood. In medieval times, they were believed to bring health, wisdom, wealth and success in love—and also thought to provide protection (cue the ruby red slippers!).

Fun facts about the King of Gems

  • Rubies can actually glow in sunlight due to chromium. Under UV lights, deep red rubies, especially Burmese rubies, seem to fluoresce (glow) from inside the stone.
  • They’re made of corundum; other stones with corundum and trace minerals can appear in shades of blue or pink; they’re classified as sapphires.
  • The stone was called “Ratnaraj” in Sanskrit, meaning “King of Gems.”
  • Rubies of more than 10 karats can sell for more than similar-sized diamonds—and can be the most expensive of all the colored gemstones.
  • The most prized color? “Pigeon’s blood,” deep red, with a hint of blue. For centuries, this has described the most exceptional Burmese rubies.
  • They’re mentioned 4 times in the bible, including: “the price of wisdom is above rubies.” (Job 28:18)
  • In 2011, an 8.24-carat ruby ring belonging to Elizabeth Taylor and made by Van Cleef & Arpels sold at auction for $4.2 million—approximately $500,000 per carat!

Buying and caring for your ruby jewelry

  • With a hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs scale, rubies match sapphires and are surpassed only by diamonds. This strength makes them appropriate for any type of jewelry.
  • As opposed to diamonds, small inclusions can actually increase a ruby’s value and can offer a velvety look. Inclusions also result in “star” rubies. No inclusions? The stone is probably heat-treated or synthetic.
  • According to the GIA, heat treatment is generally accepted since it doesn’t weaken the stone. However, if it’s been dyed and/or fracture-filled (which can make the stone look more transparent) they may be weakened and more vulnerable to damage during regular wear. The FTC requires that sellers disclose whether gemstones have been treated, and by which methods—including whether the stone is synthetic vs natural.
  • Color’s the most important factor when buying ruby jewelry. The most desirable is deep red; as it gets more orange or purple in tone, the value decreases.
  • Clean your ruby jewelry with warm soapy water and a soft brush.
pigeon blood ruby ring
“Pigeon blood” ruby

Remember to keep your rubies, sapphires, diamonds, silver, and heirloom pieces safe by protecting them with insurance. Before you call your agent, you’ll need an up-to-date appraisal. First step? Call me at 617-304-0174 or by email at aimee@ambappraisal.com.

So, click your heels, head down to your jeweler’s, and put some passion in your life with a piece of radiant ruby jewelry.

Passionately yours, Aimee

About Aimee Berrent

Aimee M. Berrent is the owner of A Matter of Brilliance and a GIA Graduate Gemologist. She offers appraisal services such as jewelry appraisals, diamond appraisals, and estate appraisals within Massachusetts and all over the East Coast.
Aimee has over 25 years experience in the jewelry trade, and received her Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) in Residence diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Santa Monica, California, and is a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA).
Aimee has advanced training in jewelry appraisal theory. She frequently attends jewelry conferences and takes courses to stay on top of current gemological advances and appraisal training.


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