Our expert gemologists explain why having the ruby as your birthstone means you’re passionate.
The month of July is upon us, and for many people that means holidays – far flung destinations, family times, relaxation. Here at the Jewel Box we love all of those things, but July also means… Rubies.
Gorgeous, stunning, blood-red rubies. They are the birthstone for July, so we thought we’d add a bit of light reading about these fabulous stones to your holiday reading list.
Historically, rubies have always been a highly important gemstone. They are mentioned in the Bible a total of four times and were believed by early cultures to hold the power of life, as their colour matched that of the blood which flows through our veins.
Red is a symbol of passion, desire, anger – all of our strongest human emotions, and ‘ruby red’ as a colour carries that symbolism too.
Rubies are actually the gemstone equivalent of ‘cousins’ with sapphires, as they come from the same crystal family, called Corundum, chemically known as Aluminium Oxide. When Corundum contains trace elements (or tiny tiny amounts) of the chemical chromium, it is red, and it therefore called a Ruby.
Any other trace elements within the gemstone, such a titanium, iron or vanadium, will make the corundum blue, green or purple – these stones are then called Sapphires. Pink sapphires do exist, but pink corundum containing chromium is called Ruby. The more chromium in the stone, the richer the red colour.
With a hardness of 9 on the Moh’s scale, rubies can be worn every day for normal use in necklaces, earrings and rings, without risking damage. The only material which is harder than them and able to scratch them is diamonds, as they score a 10 on the Moh’s scale – so please never store diamond jewellery with your ruby jewellery!
They can be easily cleaned by your jeweller with an ultrasonic machine, but unlike other stones such as tourmaline they aren’t known for collecting dust and grime, so will stay clean and glowing for a long time.
The most prized rubies are known as ‘pigeon blood’ rubies, as they have the strongest saturation of red colour… so saturated that it recalls blood. Rubies with this colour were originally mainly found in Myanmar, however there are now some very beautiful rubies coming out of Mozambique too.
Rubies can also display two different phenomenal effects – ‘asterism’ and ‘chatoyancy’. Asterism is created due to very fine parallel inclusions intersection at angles within the stone, and results in a 4 or 6-line star which be seen of the surface of the gemstone.
Chatoyancy comes from the French term oeil de chat, whereby the parallel inclusions within the gemstone don’t intersect, but simply create one straight line across the stone, which looks like exactly like a cat’s eye. For either effect to be seen the ruby must be cut as a cabochon with a rounded dome shape, rather than faceted.
As one of the ‘Big 3’ coloured gemstones, along with sapphire and emerald, rubies were also among the first to be re-created in laboratories by man. Whilst the first examples of synthetic rubies were very easy to distinguish from the real deal, like everything else, synthetic ‘lab-grown’ rubies have improved over the year too.
This fact, combined with the knowledge that natural rubies can also be subjected to a series of treatments to improve their clarity and colour, mean that it’s always best to buy your gemstones from a well trusted jeweller, and once you reach a certain budget, to request a certificate showing the details of your ruby, including any treatments is may have undergone.
Whilst the heating of rubies is completely common place (about 90% of all corundum are heated to improve their colour) and permanent, other treatments such as the glass filling of cracks definitely need to be disclosed. A glass filled ruby in an ultrasonic will shatter!
At The Jewel Box, we have a vast selection of rubies, and would love the opportunity to discuss your bespoke ruby jewellery needs with us. Call us on +65 6733 4100 to make an appointment.
Know someone who was born in the month of June? Read about June’s birthstone, the pearl.