Celebrating the Ruby: July’s Birthstone, King of Gems

 The ruby, the most valuable of all colored gems, is the birthstone for all you lucky July babies. It’s also the jewel for 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries.

In Sanskrit, ruby is ratnaraj, which means “king of gems.” According to the GIA, “Rubies can command the highest per-carat price of any colored stone. This makes ruby one of the most important gems in the colored stone market.”

Ruby basics

Rubies, which come in pinkish red to medium and dark red, are a form of corundum. When chromium is added to the mix, the crystal is red. The more chromium, the deeper the color saturation. When corundum crystals are any other color, they become sapphires. (Corundum is clearly the Kardashian of the crystal family—all forms are popular!)

Color counts

Color—how deeply saturated a stone is with red— is the most important factor in determining the value of a ruby, followed closely by clarity. High-quality rubies over one carat are very rare; as a result, rubies can be more expensive than comparably sized diamonds.

  • While rubies can be all shades of red, is a pink stone a light ruby or a pink sapphire? (Remember, they both come from corundum.) Generally, it’ll be classified as a pink sapphire.
  • Rubies are often heat-treated to enhance their color. When you buy a ruby, unless the accompanying documents state that the stone is untreated, you should assume that it was heat-treated. This generally doesn’t affect the value of the stone.

Caring for your ruby jewelry

Rubies rate a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, just under diamonds. So this is a durable stone for rings, earrings, pendants, and pins. Simple care works the best. Use warm water, mild detergent, and a soft brush to clean off dust and debris. Don’t use high heat, which could cause damage. And be careful cutting those lemons for lemonade…the GIA says that even mild acids can damage rubies and other gemstones in certain instances.

Ruby fun facts

  • Rubies are mentioned four times in the Bible. Psalms notes that a virtuous woman’s “price is above rubies.”
  • Throughout history, rubies were believed to protect their owners from misfortune and bad health.
  • To commemorate the 50th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, Harry Winston created real ruby slippers set with 4,600 rubies.

Celebrate your independence with a brilliant piece of ruby jewelry! And whether your gem is new or a treasured heirloom, don’t take chances. Arrange for an updated appraisal of your jewels so they’re protected from loss and damage.

Brilliantly yours, Aimee

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