Everything You Need To Know About Rubies

Three Antique Ruby Diamond Rings

The ruby is one of the most highly prized gemstones in existence. In ancient times it was one of the five cardinal gemstones whose value outstripped all others. They have been consistently coveted throughout history and can be found in some of the most extravagant and beautiful pieces of antique jewellery.


Rubies are varieties of the mineral corundum which form deep beneath the earth under extreme pressure and heat. These conditions also lead to the formation of sapphires, which are the same mineral, albeit with different trace elements which give them their distinctive colour. Rubies contain chromium, which leads them to have a colour ranging from bright pink to blood red.

Sapphires contain different elements which can cause them to take on a variety of different colours. Although blue sapphires are the most famous they can also present as yellow, green, clear, black and pink. Pink sapphires and pink rubies are extremely similar, and can be easily mistaken for one another. In the ancient world the pink sapphire was believed to be an infant ruby, whose colour would deepen as it “matured”.

The most highly prized rubies are those with a blood red colour, which is often described as “pigeon blood”. The largest specimens adorn the crown jewels of monarchies across the globe.

Rubies are mined in many places around the world, but the main source for centuries was the Mogok Valley in upper Burma (now Myanmar), and some of the finest antique ruby jewellery will be adorned with Burmese rubies. In modern times the largest reserves of rubies are located beneath Pakistani Kashmir, although very few are mined, which means that rubies are still rare and command a high price.

Unlike emeralds which are fragile and must be handled with care, both rubies and sapphires are extremely hardwearing. Of all gemstones only diamond is harder. It is this durability that makes them ideal for inclusion in jewellery.


Historically, rubies have been worn and coveted by royalty, priests and armies as talismans to protect and guide, provide wisdom and courage and as well display wealth and power.

Perhaps the most astonishing lore connected to the ruby is that of the Burmese people. Whilst Burmese civilians once believed that rubies worn to the left of the heart would allow them to live in peace with their fellow men, Burmese soldiers, in contrast, were known to actually imbed rubies into the flesh surrounding the left side of their heart believing that doing so would make them invulnerable and so enable them to triumph in battle.

Gifting Rubies

Ruby is the birthstone for July, making it an ideal gift for those born in this month. It is also the stone associated with the 40th wedding anniversary, representing the strength, beauty and preciousness of such an enduring relationship.

The colour red has always been associated with love and passion, and rubies adorn the heart of many antique engagement rings. They are often paired with diamonds which serve to refract more light into and across the stone, lending the fire of their scintillation to the bright crimson of a central stone.

At Laurelle Antique Jewellery we have decades of experience in finding and assessing antique ruby jewellery. We are proud to be able to provide our customers with some of the most truly remarkable pieces from the Georgian, Victorian Edwardian and Art Deco eras.

You can view our full collection of antique ruby jewellery here.

If you need assistance in getting to know any of our ruby jewellery feel free to get in touch on 0333 700 4500 or send us an email at enquiries@antiquejewellerygroup.com