“What’s in a name?” Well, for this month’s birthstone, it could be the difference between two different gemstones, depending on how its color is perceived.
For the month of July, the birthstone is the ruby. Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum, and what makes them tricky is the fact that sapphires are also a variety of the mineral corundum. How are a dark blue stone and a dark red stone the same mineral? The difference comes from other trace elements which are mixed in with the corundum. In the case of rubies, chromium gives the stone its red hue. Depending on the amount of corundum in the stone, it can range from light pink, to deep red, to a purplish-red. The light pink stones are now referred to as pink sapphires, not rubies. This affects the value of them. Some people see these as being rarer and others see them as being not as well saturated in color as a ruby and not worth as much. It really becomes a challenge in the world of gemology. As a general rule, the more intense the red is, the more valuable of a ruby it is. Going back in time, the lighter stones were simply considered not as well saturated rubies and were not worth as much.
Speaking of going back in time, let’s look at the historical side of rubies. This stone has long been considered to bring peace and protection to those who wear it. According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA):
“People in India believed that rubies enabled their owners to live in peace with their enemies. In Burma (a ruby source since at least 600 AD — now called Myanmar), warriors wore rubies to make themselves invincible in battle. Rubies were worn in medieval Europe to guarantee health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love.”
In ancient cultures, rubies were also believed to cure diseases. It was ground to a fine powered and placed on the tongue of the sick person.
Today’s sources of rubies are Afghanistan, Kenya, Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, and Vietnam. A few rubies have even been found in the United States, although this is not very common. Myanmar (Burma) has been the world’s main source of rubies for centuries; however, a large deposit of rubies was recently found in Greenland.
Rubies are generally considered both hard and tough; however, it’s still good to be careful with them in case they have small fractures which could break under pressure. Heat can also affect the color and/or clarity of the stone.
Sadly, I do have not created any pieces of jewelry with rubies in them. I really should since it is my birthstone. Perhaps I will consider that for my next supply order.
As always, thank you for reading!