Ruby is extremely rare and one of the most valuable precious gemstones in nature. It offers breathtaking color, ranging from brownish red to light red similar to ripe raspberries, excellent hardness second only to a diamond, and irresistible brilliance. The color of ruby is accompanied by a marked fluorescence, which is stimulated by natural and artificial light making rubies turn brighter red under such light. The color is ruby’s most important attribute, while its transparency is secondary. It is almost impossible to find a ruby of finer quality over 3 carats in size, therefore, minor inclusions are deemed acceptable and most ruby jewelry is made with stones under 3 carats. In fact, inclusions within a ruby are like fingerprints, proving its authenticity and revealing the beauty and the individuality of each stone.
Traditionally, India was considered to be the source of all rubies, as testified by an overwhelming collection of literature for over two thousand years. The highest quality rubies, the most transparent with the best color, are usually from Burma, and can actually be as valuable as diamonds, or even more so. The ruby is actually very closely related to the sapphire, both being part of the corundum family. They are both made of the same mineral, but are of course, different colors. The ruby is a little softer than the sapphire, which may seem strange as they are both made of the same mineral, however nature never makes each gem in a mineral family the same.
The most rare, highly valued ruby is the star ruby, which is also called pigeon or dove blood because its color resembles the blood of a pigeon or dove. It is a deep pure red with a hint of bluish purple, and is the most sought after shade. Inside of the ruby is what appears to be a star, a six-ray star with perfect symmetry. The center of the star moves when the stone is moved. It is usually found in smaller stones, of weights less than three carats. A perfect star ruby is very rare. Sometimes, the stone is flawed, or too cloudy, or the six points of the star are vague or unequal. Star rubies are usually given a mixed cut, which is generally oval, but can be round, or other shapes as well.
Although the finest rubies come from the Mogok region in Burma, many beautiful rubies also come from Thailand, today’s main source for rubies. Thai rubies tend to be a little darker in shade, with a red so deep they are almost violet. The island of Ceylong, which is the “island of gems“, has also been long famous for it’s rubies, which are of a lighter shade. Marco Polo once said that no other place had rubies as beautiful as those from Ceylon. Rubies also come from India, Tanzania, Madagascar, Russia, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Kenya, Mexico, Afghanistan, and North Carolina and Pakistan. Pakistan provides rubies of excellent color, only with less frequency than from Mogok.
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.