Stone Information & Mining
Ruby is the most valuable variety of the corundum mineral species, which also includes sapphire. Rubies can command the highest per-carat price of any colored stone. This makes ruby one of the most important gems in the colored stone market. In its purest form, the mineral corundum is colorless. Trace elements that become part of the mineral’s crystal structure cause variations in its color. Chromium is the trace element that causes ruby’s red, which ranges from an orangy red to a purplish red. The name ruby comes from the Latin word ruber, which means “red.” The glowing red of ruby suggested an inextinguishable flame burning in the stone, even shining through clothing and able to boil water. The most renowned rubies, like those from Myanmar, the Himalayas, and northern Vietnam, typically form in marble. They’re found in layers that are distributed irregularly within the surrounding marble. In other locations, rubies can be found in basalt rocks. Rubies from these sources can have higher iron content, which can make the rubies darker and less intense in color.
Legend & Lore
Ruby is one of the most historically significant colored stones. Rubies are mentioned four times in the Bible, in association with attributes like beauty and wisdom. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, ruby is called ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones.” Ruby retained its importance with the birth of the western world and became one of the most sought-after gems of European royalty and the upper classes. Many medieval Europeans wore rubies to guarantee health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love. Desire for ruby is just as great today as it always has been. As a symbol of passion, ruby makes an ideal romantic gift. Consumers are drawn to the lush color because it also signifies wealth and success.
Color is the most significant factor affecting a ruby’s value. The finest ruby has a pure, vibrant red to slightly purplish red color. As the color becomes too orangy or more purplish, the ruby moves down the quality scale. The highest-quality rubies have vivid color saturation.
Warm soapy water is always safe. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe for untreated, heat-treated, and lattice diffusion treated stones. Fracture-filled, cavity-filled, or dyed material should only be cleaned with a damp cloth.
This information was excerpted from GIA's Gem Encyclopedia with permission from GIA.