All jewellers and jewellery buying companies will tell you that apart from diamonds, rubies are possibly the most popular stone found in the majority of heirloom pieces today. As one recent client at Liquid Finance put it while showing us her collection of heirloom jewellery, “I’m interested in selling my jewellery but I’ve changed my mind about the rubies. They were from my late husband and I can’t bear to part with them. Those stay with me.”
Diamonds may command all the attention when it comes to romance, because of their extreme price and a very clever marketing campaign by De Beers (a diamond is forever, remember?), but nobody can take away the depths of love and romance that come with staring into a sparkling ruby. Doubtless, this age-old association between rubies and romance boils down to its colour, a vivid blood red. Rubies can, however, be many shades of deep pink and even hues of purple. Lighter pink stones are known as fancy pink sapphires, and not true rubies. The deepest and most prizes shade of red is known as “pigeons’ blood”, and it is these stones that command the highest prices.
The ancient Hindus referred to rubies as “Rajnapura”, a name that translates to “the King of gems”. They believed the stones somehow radiated light and heat from a hidden inner flame, and thus rubies became symbols for passion, romance and love, much like they have become in the western world as well.
This July birthstone is the red-coloured variety of the mineral Corundum. Most coloured corundum stones are known as sapphires, but rubies get a name all of their own because people just can’t get enough of that brilliant scarlet colour – the result of trace amounts of the element chromium. Jewellers and jewellery buying companies are also quick to snap up the extremely valuable variation known as Star Rubies, created when rutile crystal inclusions align themselves into a 6-pointed star shape that is simply dazzling to look at.
Rubies are mined all over the world, but the finest stones are found in Thailand, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar and Zimbabwe, but the absolute king of ruby production has to be Burma, where some of the largest and most impressive specimens are found.
Together with diamond, sapphire and emerald, ruby is considered one of the four major precious stones. As well as its association with love, other traditional attributes of the ruby are harmony, contentment, integrity, strength, protection from evil and success.
Main image: gemsociety