“There’s no place like home.”, whispered Dorothy, as she clicked her ruby slippers three times and was magically whisked away to the comfort of her Kansas farmhouse. Sparkling red in the glow of Hollywood lights, Dorothy’s ruby slippers were actually nothing more than a rhinestone studded prop. Nonetheless, the allure of rubies and ruby jewelry is so strong that it has worked its way into all the cultures of the world from the beginning of history up to modern time.
“A drop of the heart’s blood of Mother Earth” is how the ruby is described in the Orient. The Indians call the ruby Ratnanayaka, the lord of the gemstones. The Hindus called the ruby the king of precious stones and the leader of gems. They used to divide rubies into castes, much like social classes. Rubies were sorted into upper class, middle class, and lower class in terms of flawlessness and beauty. Much like today’s exclusive county clubs and their upper-class clientele, no inferior Ruby was allowed contact with a superior one because it was believed the inferior one would contaminate the better one, thereby diminishing its magical powers. In India, those who donated rubies to honor Krishna were assured being reborn as an emperor in a future life. Hindus consider light colored rubies to be appropriate for women, and darker ones for men. Elaborate ruby earrings have been a popular jewelry choice in India for centuries. In China, a Mandarin’s rank was indicated by the color of the stone in his ruby ring. A red jewel stone meant he was a key figure among the great. In the 1880’s, French jewelers called the ruby the gem of gems or the dearly loved stone.
The name ruby comes from the Latin word ruber, which means red. It is favorite gem among those in power and those in love, inspiring more emotion than almost any other stone. Some ancient cultures believed that rubies, as well as other gemstones, grew on trees, just like fruit. The rubies would begin budding as small white gems, and would slowly grow and ripen, turning red in the light of the sun. When the ruby was saturated with red color, it was ready to be plucked.
Ruby is deemed to be the most precious of gemstones by the Bible and the ancient Sanskrit writings. Indeed, upon discovery of each Ruby crystal, the Indian Emperor would give a special royal welcome to this King of Gemstones.