Rubies are one of the most coveted gem stones in the world, and yet a significant proportion of those who own, wear and love rubies know little about their origins, lore and significance. Hence, here is everything you need to know about your rubies and why so many love them.
One of the worlds most valuable and famous coloured stones, rubies are one type of a stone called a corundum, along with sapphires. Therefore, like sapphires, rubies register a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale and are only slightly softer than diamonds, the worlds hardest registering stone. Unlike sapphires, which are most famously a blue coloured stone, corundums which are classified as rubies bear levels of the mineral element chromium, from which they derive their trademark red colour. The name ruby, in fact, originates from the Latin word ruber, which means red.
Over the years, rubies have been found in a number of countries and continents, including Myanmar (once Burma), Thailand, Africa, Australia and the USA. For many years the most valuable and precious rubies were those mined in Myanmar - hence the Burmese ruby which continues today to be a term given to many of the worlds finest rubies.
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, yet true lore of 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 and war over their adversaries.
Rubies are spoken of four times in the Christian Bible and, as stated via the GIA website are considered the most precious of the 12 stones created by God.
Rubies are not only an important stone to those of the Christian faith though; Hindus too prize rubies, which in Sanskrit are referred to as ratnaraj, which translates to mean the king of all precious stones. Most prized by Hindus, the Brahmin ruby is in Hindu belief said to protect and keep a person safe from harm. Meanwhile, ancient Hindus further believed that those who made the gift of rubies to the God of Krishna would be reborn after death as emperors.
Long before the discovery of rubies, the colour red was considered one of passion and passionate emotions such as anger and love, probably in large part due to the fact that red happens to be the colour of blood and so represents life force, pain and as well war and bloodshed. Consequently, ancient civilisations championed rubies due to their intense red colouring, even believing that they held the power of life and could protect wearers from death.
Today, red continues to be one of the most powerful colours, not only as a symbol of love and life, but too of power and passion and desire. Hence, along with symbols such as the red rose and Dorothys Ruby Slippers, many advertisers and businesses have too capitalised on the colour to conjure and endow their products with a feeling of power, lust and passion, most famously perhaps, Ferrari, adopted red as their signature colour for this reason.
Hence, rubies have continued throughout time to be gifted and worn as a symbol of love, passion and power due to their colouring.
It is the fashion and has long been an established one to gift rubies to anybody born in the month of July, as the 7th month of the Roman calendar is represented by the birthstone, ruby. It is also customary in the UK and much of the western world to gift rubies on 15th and 40 th wedding anniversaries to congratulate couples on their enduring love for one and another. Of course, many couples also gift rubies to each other long before marriage as rubies are one of the stones most associated with love and the heart.
To view a varied and exquisite collection of ruby and some stunning examples of the pieces rubies have been used to create over the different periods in Jewellery design, begin by taking a look at our ruby collection here at Heritage Antique Jewellery.