The ruby is the most valuable variety of the corundum mineral species that includes the sapphire. The name ruby comes from the Latin word ruber meaning red. The redness of rubies has been celebrated throughout human history in both eastern and Western civilizations. The ruby has been called the most precious of the 12 stones created by God. Rubies have been mined for more than 8000 years. Today, it is a symbol of passion and an ideal romantic gift.
FACT 1: In Sanskrit the ruby is called the ratanraj, meaning the king of gems. In India people believed that rubies enabled people to live in peace with their enemies. The Hindus had divided rubies into four castes, calling the true Oriental ruby a Brahmin. Anyone is possession of a Brahmin ruby was believed to have the advantage of perfect safety.
FACT 2: In Burma, now called Myanmar, warriors inserted rubies into their bodies in the belief that it would make them invincible. Burma has been a ruby source since 600AD. Other source countries are Thailand, Tanganyika, North Carolina, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
FACT 3: Rubies mentioned four times in the Bible in connection with wisdom and beauty. The first century Roman scholar, Pliny, described the hardness and density of the ruby in his book ‘Natural History’
FACT 4: The ruby is the birth stone for July and the gem for the 15th and 40th anniversary.
FACT 5: The chemical composition of the ruby is Al2O3. In its purest form the gem is colourless. The variations in colour come from trace elements present. Chromium is the trace element that causes the red colour. Fine ruby has a red fluorescence that intensifies the red colour of the ruby and it glows with intense red in sunlight. In 1960, the first laser was created using the fluorescence emitted by rubies.
FACT 6: To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the film the Wizard of OZZ, Harry Winston created a pair of ruby slippers. The pair contained 4,600 rubies.
FACT 7: Tons of earth and countless hours of labour are required to bring this much coveted gem from mine to market. It has been a much sought after gem by the royalty and upper classes of Europe. In Medieval times Europeans wore rubies to guarantee health, wealth, wisdom and success in love.
FACT 8: The desire for rubies is as great today as it has always been. Large gem quality rubies are rare and the value of a fine quality ruby may be much higher than that of a similar quality diamond. In May 2012, a 6.02 carat ruby ring sold for $551,000 per carat, setting a new record for a coloured gemstone.
FACT 9: Next to the diamond the ruby is the hardest gemstone. It is resistant to acid and other harmful substances. Aside from its decorative functions, it has many utilitarian functions. It is harder than steel and is used in thread guides in textile machines. Rubies also make excellent bearing material for metal shafts in watches, electric meters and compasses. The ruby has excellent wave transmitting properties ranging from short ultra violet wave lengths through the visible light spectrum to long infrared wavelengths. They are used in lasers and masers (microwaves and radio waves).
FACT 10: The industrial uses of the ruby demand high quality crystals of particular sizes and shapes. Synthetic rubies are manufactured to serve this purpose. In composition, barring a few minor impurities, synthetic rubies have the same chemical, physical and optical properties as natural rubies.