Ruby Meaning and Properties

Ruby History

Ruby gets its name from the Latin word for red, ruber. It is one of the four precious stones along with diamond, sapphire and emerald. Ruby is the third hardest gemstone--with a Mohs rating of 9--after diamond and moissanite. For centuries, rubies have been mined, collected, traded, treasured and used in fashion, such as the breastplate of high priests and to adorn weapons. Ruby is known as the gemstone of nobles. "Blood red" rubies are considered the most valuable. In some ancient cultures, ruby gemstones were used to cast lots to predict the future. Famous rubies include a ruby and diamond ring by Van Cleef and Arpels from Elizabeth Taylor's collection that set a record for price per carat: $4.2 million/8.24 carats.

Ruby is the birthstone for the month of July. It is also used to commemorate the 40th anniversary of weddings and other milestones such as, in 2013, the 40th anniversary of the founding of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

As the birthstone of July, delve into the captivating world of ruby. Discover the factors that contribute to its immense value, learn essential care and cleaning tips, and embark on a creative journey to craft your very own pair of exquisite ruby dangle earrings.

Ruby Metaphysical Properties

Ruby is believed to promote loving, nurturing, health, knowledge and wealth. It has been associated with improved energy and concentration, creativity, loyalty, honor and compassion. Ruby is thought to be protective of home, possessions and family. Ruby is said to stimulate heart chakra and bring spiritual wisdom while shielding against psychic attacks.

Ruby Geological Properties

Ruby (along with sapphire) is part of the corundum species. It gets its red color from chromium. The red of ruby is the only color variety not found in sapphire. Also like sapphire, significant ruby deposits have been found in Southeast Asia (for centuries Burma, now Myanmar, was the main source), Eastern and Southern Africa, the Middle East as well as Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Australia and China.

Most deposits are still worked in the primitive way they've been worked for centuries. They are panned from rivers and picked out by hand from the other minerals around them.

In their natural rough form, rubies are dull greasy-looking stones. But cut and polished, their high luster is dazzling (comparable to diamonds), and their rich red color is pleochroic. Pleochroic is color that varies when you view it from different directions.

Ruby in zoisite is a combination of ruby and zoisite crystal. The only mining deposits have been found in Tanzania. Ruby in zoisite typically displays a green color but can also have pink and red inclusions.

Another combination, ruby in kyanite (also called ruby kyanite) is mined in Myanmar (Burma), India and Thailand. Its color is typically a mottled pink and red with teal and green.

In addition to ruby in its natural state, some ruby gemstones are treated in two ways, dyed and heated.

Rubies of lower quality are sometimes treated with heat (approx. 3300 degrees Fahrenheit) to make gemstones more transparent and make the color more pronounced. Another treatment is filling fractures with lead glass to improve transparency.

Less often than heated, some rubies are dyed. The method of dyeing will vary by source, vendor and the technology. Typically, ruby gemstones, which are porous, are placed in vats of dye containing organic or vegetable dyes. Chemical salts and natural pigments may also be used. The stones may soak for several weeks to allow the dye to fully penetrate the stone and produce uniform surface color.

Mineral Information Aluminum oxide, Corundum group
Chemical Composition AI2O3
Color Deep red
Hardness 9 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 3.97 - 4.05
Refractive Index 1.766 - 1.774

Proper Care of Ruby

Clean ruby stones with lukewarm soapy water and a soft brush. Rinse the stone well after washing it. Ruby can be steam cleaned, but do not boil it. It is usually safe to an ultrasonic cleaner. Although stable for normal wearing, untreated ruby gemstones can be etched by boric acid powder and stones that have been dyed or have fractures or cavities can be damaged by mild acids such as lemon juice.

To learn more about ruby and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with Ruby

The ruby beads in Fire Mountain Gems' hand-faceted strands are pale shimmering red on the outside edge deepening to a vibrant deep red at their center. In cabochons and faceted stones, those rich red colors shimmer in all directions.

Although considered the gemstone or royalty, ruby can be worn with just about anything from a casual t-shirt to a formal dress.

According to Itten's Color Theory, brown (e.g. brown goldstone), orange (e.g. carnelian) and purple (e.g. amethyst) are analogous colors (and gemstones) to the red of ruby. That is, they are close to each other on the color wheel and be readily combined with or substituted for each other. Green (e.g. emerald), is a complementary color to red (directly opposite on the color wheel) and provides a pleasing, yet high contrast effect. Yellow-green (e.g. peridot) and blue-green (e.g. blue-green fluorite) are split complementary colors to red, offering intriguing possibilities of complexity and sophistication.

View design inspirations featuring ruby in the Gallery of Designs

Shop for Ruby Items

**Please note that all metaphysical or healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® does not guarantee the validity of any of these statements.

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