The Ruby, July’s Birthstone, Is The King of Gems

The Ruby, July’s Birthstone, Is The King of Gems

pile of ruby gemstones

It’s the most expensive colored gemstone, with a hardness second only to a diamond. The ruby birthstone combines rarity with hardness and beauty; high-quality stones are even scarcer than fine diamonds! In ancient India, it was called “ratnaraj,” the “king of precious stones.” They believed rubies symbolized the sun and provided energy and vitality to those who wore it.

For an excellent summary of what makes a valuable ruby, check out this GIA article.

diamond and ruby collar necklace

Ruby facts and history

  • The most desirable ruby color is called “pigeon blood,” a very deep red with a slight tinge of blue; these are usually found in Burma.
  • Dreaming of a ruby? It can mean you’ll have “unexpected guests”!
  • Interesting fact: All other colors of corundum-based gems are called “sapphires.”
  • Industrial rubies are also used in watchmaking, medical instruments, and lasers.
  • A ruby’s color comes from the mineral chromium—the more the crystal has, the stronger its red. Chromium also causes fluorescence, which gives a ruby its fire and glow.

Healing powers

  • In medieval Europe, it was believed that a ruby lead to health, wealth, and love.
  • Many believe that the ruby balances the heart, encouraging joy, spontaneity, laughter and courage. Its deep red color has also had connections to blood and heart health.
  • Finally, it’s said that wearing a ruby gives you more confidence in all that you do.

Care and cleaning of rubies

  • Rubies are easily cleaned with warm water, gentle detergent, and a soft toothbrush. Dilute the soap and soak your ruby jewelry for a few minutes before using the toothbrush.
  • If you’re sure that your ruby hasn’t been heat- or cavity-treated, you can use an ultrasonic cleaner; but the warm water method (above) is always the safest.

How to buy fine ruby jewelry

  • Color, color, color! The GIA writes that the closer you can get to a stone that’s pure, vibrant red to slightly purplish red color, the finer (and more expensive) it will be. And, as the color becomes more orange or purplish, the lower its quality.
  • Transparency is important, though there will likely be some inclusions—small ones shouldn’t impact the value of the stone.
  • According to the GIA, rubies are often heat-treated to enhance their tones; this is accepted in the industry. Color treating, on the other hand, is used to improve the stone’s clarity, and can turn a colorless ruby into a red one. This can lower the stone’s value. There are also treatments that fill fractures with a high-lead content glass.
  • Your jeweler has to let you know about any treatments that a gem you’re considering has undergone.

Proverbs says, “Her price is far above rubies” but your ruby jewelry is very valuable—and so are all your fine gold and silver pieces, heirlooms, and other treasures. Make sure they’re protected against damage and theft with insurance. And to insure them with confidence, first get an updated appraisal. Make it easy on yourself…call me at (617) 304-0174 or by email at

Wishing you ruby-red slippers and yellow brick road dreams, 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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