In Sanskrit, the word for ruby is ‘ratnaraj’, meaning ‘the king of gems’. Rich ruby is best known for its majestic and mesmerising hue, representing passion and prosperity.
In ancient civilisations, ruby was worn as a talisman to help protect warriors in battle; this is said to be the symbolism behind Dorothy’s protective ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz.
Ruby is formed when the mineral corundum is mixed with chromium to create its unique rich red colour. Most corundum jewels are classified as sapphires, but ruby’s deep hue required a distinctive name of its own. Mined in Sri Lanka since the 8th Century BC, ancient Hindu and Burmese miners believed that colourless or pale pink sapphires were rubies which were yet to ripen.
Ranging from deep to pale, rose red, the most valued rubies are those that are the deepest red. They are normally found as small stones, anything over 10 carats is incredibly rare as the presence of chromium usually has an inhibiting effect on the crystal’s formation.
The Black Prince’s Ruby, now in the Imperial State Crown of England, was discovered to be a spinel in the 19th century.
In classical antiquity rubies were thought to banish sorrow, restrain lust, and resist poison.
As well as being the birthstone for July, this beautiful, captivating gemstone is used to commemorate 40th wedding anniversaries.
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