The Passion of
A symbol of wealth and nobility.
Referred to as the king of precious stones, ruby is
the red variety of the mineral corundum. The name
comes from the Latin “ruber,” meaning red. Red is
the color of our most intense emotions—love and
anger, passion and fury. It’s associated with objects
of power and desire—like fast cars and red roses.
Early cultures valued rubies for their similarity to the
redness of the blood that flowed through their veins,
and believed rubies held the power of life. Ruby retained
its importance with the birth of the western world
and became one of the most sought-after gems of
European royalty and the upper classes. Many medieval
Europeans wore rubies to guarantee health, wealth,
wisdom and success in love.
The color of ruby is caused by traces of chromium.
Color is the most significant factor affecting a ruby’s
value. Rubies are available in rich red to dark red and
orangey red to purplish red. The most sought-after color
by collectors worldwide is a deep red sometimes with a
hint of purple, called “pigeon’s blood” in the trade.
Inclusion-free ruby is practically nonexistent so the
value varies with how visible the inclusions are.
Inclusions can also impact a ruby’s durability, especially
if there is a surface-reaching fracture. Typical clarity
characteristics include thin mineral inclusions called
needles. Rutile needles, or “silk,” can sometimes
contribute positively to a gem’s appearance.
The most famous ruby mines are in Myanmar (formerly
known as Burma) but rubies can also be found in
Vietnam, Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, Tajikistan,
Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Heat treatment is often used to improve the color or
clarity of a ruby. Heat can also cause some fractures
to “heal” in certain conditions. Lower quality material
may have surface-reaching fractures filled with a
glass to decrease their visibility and make the gem
Color is the most significant factor affecting a
ruby’s value. Fine gems are a pure, vibrant red
to slightly purplish red.
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