If you were born in July, you’ve won the birthstone lottery — the gemstone of your month is amongst the most prized. Loosely translated to “king of precious gems” in Sanskrit, the ruby symbolises everything one’s heart desires, including love, success and wisdom. Most rubies are said to be mined in Burma, while others are found in numerous locations around the world including Mozambique, Pakistan, Vietnam, Malawi and Sri Lanka.
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Uses of ruby
Regarded as a stone of kings, rubies have always been worn by royals and nobility in a show of wealth, wisdom and power. In Marco Polo’s famous travelogue The Travels of Marco Polo, he recounts a tale revolving around the King of Ceylon’s magnificent ruby, said to be “red as fire” and as “thick as a man’s arm”. Kublai Khan offered an entire city in exchange for the stone, but was turned down. Other famous rubies in history include the colossal 250-ct ruby which adorned the crown of Charles IV of Luxembourg in the 1300s; Queen Elizabeth II has the stunningly modern Burmese ruby tiara sitting pretty in her jewel vault.
The rich mysticism of rubies go as far back as ancient times. Worn as talismans, they were said to offer protection. Legend has it that Burmese warriors would bury these precious stones under their skin to be invincible in battles. Rubies were also regarded as healing, detoxifying, and even prophetic— its wearers claim that it could warn of imminent danger or tragedy by turning a darker shade. Even in modern times, the ruby continues to symbolise love and success, with many swearing by its connection to one’s chi, or life force.
Why rubies are so precious
Derived from the mineral corundum, rubies owe their fiery colour to the trace element of chromium. They come in a spectrum of hues, ranging from orange red to purplish red. The bolder and more saturated the red, the higher the value. Too dark and it affects the stone’s brightness. Too light, and it may even be considered a pink sapphire.
The most valuable and rarest of these are Burmese rubies. These come in an intense blood-red colour, coined “pigeon’s blood”, with a soft fluorescence.
Large rubies are also scarce as most are unable to crystallise to form a full-sized gem, making them rarer than same-sized diamonds. Prices shoot up dramatically above one carat, and even more so after two.
Here, we have four stunning pieces of jewellery featuring rubies. They make thoughtful gifts for your July-born loved one, or for yourself as a personal talisman of passion and prosperity.