July - Ruby
The price of wisdom is above rubies, says Job in the Bible, implying that rubies were highly prized in his time. Indeed, the respect and appreciation for rubies has always transcended all geographical boundaries and social class. The gold coronation ring of the English kings contains a large, tablet-cut ruby on which the figure of St. George's cross is engraved. Around the ruby are set 26 diamonds. Rubies are generously represented in crowns and scepters in the royal jewels of many nations.
Ruby has acquired special attributes from its admirers over the centuries. It has been regarded as a symbol of freedom, charity, dignity and divine power. The Burmese believed that gemstones ripened like fruit. The redder the color, the riper the ruby. A flawed ruby was considered over mature.
Large, gem quality rubies have always been very rare. The huge gems described in medieval romances and oriental literature were most likely exaggerated by the imaginations of ruby admirers and creative authors or were actually garnets or spinels.
Ruby and sapphire are the two varieties of the mineral corundum. Their exceptional hardness is surpassed only by diamonds. Red corundum is called ruby, and all other colors are called sapphire. The cut-off between ruby and pink sapphire on one end and plum sapphire on the other has long been a subject of controversy. Of course, gem dealers want the gem they're selling to be classified as a ruby because the name alone increases its value.
A few rubies have distinguished themselves because of their size or extraordinary beauty and are being guarded for posterity The Louvre in Paris houses the Anne of Brittany Ruby, a 105-carat polished but irregular gem. The 167-carat Edwardes Ruby was donated to the British Museum of Natural History in 1887 by John Ruskin. This 167-carat gem was named in honor of Major-General Sir Herbert Benjamin Edwardes (1819-68) who saved British rule in India during the years of the Indian Mutiny. Two star rubies are displayed in American museums. The Smithsonian displays the 137-carat Rosser Reeves Ruby, and The American Museum of Natural History has the 100-carat Edith Haggin de Long Ruby.
The different geographical sources of ruby are known for characteristic colors and qualities, although they all produce a variety of gem material. Burma is famous for producing the greatest amount of top quality ruby-a fine, clear, deep red. Thailand is known for dark red to brownish-red stones. Typical Ceylon (Sri Lanka) rubies are medium light in tone. And Africa is known for small, sheet-like, purplish-red material.
SIZE DOES MATTER:
Ruby is corundum with trace elements of chromium. Chromium is high on the elemental table and a transitional element. This means Ruby crystal do not grow very large. So a one carat Ruby costing X dollars would not just double when you go to two carats - it might triple or quadruple to 4X. Additionally the crystals grow hexagonal pencils so it is very difficult to cut large Rounds or big Emerald cuts from the rough. You can expect to pay 50% more for round or emerald cut over the normal price for oval Rubies.
Along with the primary hue, tonality helps define the color of Ruby. Almost all gemstones have a tonality of at least 50%. Perhaps it is easiest to explain tonality to suppose you had 2 gallons of white paint. And you begin to pour black white into one. It would take some time for your eye to perceive a color difference.
The best place to see tonality is to examine the edge of the gemstone. This is the area that light has the least amount of distance to travel through the gem. Do no look at the table area for tone. Notice the blackish ring around the girdle or just under the crown facets. That is tone. If the tone reached 100% then you would have a black gem. Therefore a good red Ruby with 98% tone may look like a Garnet when mounted.
Mining for rubies is done by primitive methods, much as it was centuries ago. Miners stake out an area and dig down about 15 feet to unearth the gem-bearing gravel. They sift the gravel through wire screens, then continue with a panning method similar to that used for gold.
A synthetic ruby is nearly identical to the natural gem in physical appearance, chemical composition and optical properties and can easily be confused with genuine ruby by unknowledgeable buyers. Only a trained geologist can tell the difference by locating telltale inclusions in the stone.
Some rubies display a luminous star when viewed in the right light. This is caused by the orientation of intersecting needles within the stone. The light reflecting off them forms a star. Stars may be seen on certain translucent stones that have been cut in a dome shape.
A CLASSIC GEM:
Ruby's dramatic color and regal heritage make it the choice of the most discriminating jewelry lovers. Fine, large rubies may be worth more than diamonds of comparable size. They make elegant rings and pendants. Smaller stones are also set in these pieces as well as brooches, bracelets, and earrings. Small rubies are popular for use in anniversary rings to wear alone or in the company, of diamonds. Rubies are stunning against a backdrop of white, black, royal blue or emerald green.
How to care for Rubies:
Since rubies are so hard and durable, they are easy to care for, however it is not recommended to wear a ruby if you are doing any sort of rough work or are using harsh chemicals. Rubies should be stored in a fabric-lined box, away from other pieces of jewelry, as they may scratch other, softer gemstones. When it is time to clean them, you can use soapy water and a brush, or a commercial jewelry cleanser. It is important to rinse the stone thoroughly and dry it, after cleaning it. If you take care of your ruby, it will stay with you, and retain its beauty for many years to come.
Mohs hardness: 9.0