Known as "Ratnaraj" in Sanskrit, the Ruby is known as the "King of Gemstones". It is associated with strong emotions like passion, love, power and anger in human beings.
Historical and Cultural Significance : A Ruby is a pink to blood-red coloured gemstone, and a variety of the mineral Corundum. The red colour is caused mainly due to the presence of the element Chromium. Ruby gets its name from 'ruber and rubin', meaning Latin for red. It has a similar origin like the Sapphire. The Ruby is considered one of the four precious stones, together with sapphire, emerald and diamond.
Ruby is one of the most historically significant coloured stones and mentioned four times in the Bible, in association with attributes like beauty and wisdom. In the first century AD, the Roman scholar Pliny included rubies in his Natural History, describing their hardness and density. 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.
Early cultures treasured rubies for their similarity to the redness of the blood that flowed through their veins, and believed that rubies held the power of life. Blood is symbolised with a Ruby's colour and compared to the "blood from the right ventricle" or the first two drops of blood from a freshly killed pigeon. Hence the term "pigeon's blood" this describes the red to slightly purplish or pinkish red colour of rubies with a soft, glowing, red fluorescence.
Ruby is considered as a 'Hot' gemstone unlike sapphire which is considered as a 'Cold' gemstone even though both are types of Corundum. Ruby is the birthstone for July. It represents the 40th anniversary and ought to be worn by individuals with Leo as their zodiac sign, or if the sun`s position is weak in their horoscope. It is helpful for highly ambitious people to enjoy immense wealth, political fame and power. Rubies should be worn on the left side of the physique as rings, a bracelets, or brooches for maximum effect.
Rubies have always been held in high esteem in Asian countries. It is considered as one of the most precious of the 12 stones created by God and supposed to represent the Sun and our soul. The gemstones were used to ornament armour, scabbards, and harnesses of noblemen in India and China. Dragons and snakes had been favoured in engravings to attract wealth and enhance magical energies. Rubies were laid beneath the foundation of buildings to secure good fortune to the structure. Ancient Hindus believed that those who offered fine rubies to Lord Krishna were granted rebirth as emperors. Indians believed that rubies enabled their owners to live in peace with their enemies. In Burma (a ruby source since at least 600 AD-now called Myanmar), warriors possessed rubies to make them invincible in battle. They had to insert them into their flesh and make them part of their bodies. During the Qing dynasty, the highest rank achievable by a 'Mandarin', the governor of a Chinese province, was signified by wearing a hat-pin made of ruby. The lower ranks were signified by hat-pins made of coral, sapphire, lapis lazuli, white jade, gold, and silver.
A red Ruby or Manimya / Manik helps to cure peptic ulcer, fever, rheumatism, and gout. Ladies should wear Ruby set in Gold to enhance body lustre.
Prices of rubies are primarily determined by colour. The brightest and most valuable "red" called blood-red, with good clarity commands a large premium over other rubies of similar quality. However, a Ruby without any needle-like rutile inclusions may indicate that the stone has been treated. Cut and carat (weight) are also an important factor in determining the price.
Ruby Cut :
Several factors affect the cut and proportion of rubies on the market. A ruby's crystal shape dictates its aptness for certain cuts. The most common shape is a flat tabular hexagonal shape, but ruby crystals from some sources can be elongated. To accommodate these crystal shapes, the most common shapes of fashioned rubies are ovals and cushions, with brilliant cut crowns of kite-shaped and triangular facets, and step-cut pavilions with concentric rows of rectangular or square facets. Round, triangular, emerald-cut, pear, and marquise rubies are also available. But these shapes are rare in larger sizes and higher qualities. A rough Ruby is very expensive, so cutters try to conserve as much weight as possible. They might fashion flattened rough ruby into shallow stones, even though light escapes through flattened pavilions, causing an unattractive see-through area in the stone called a window.
Pleochroism; the appearance of dissimilar colours in different crystal direction, is another feature that influences cut. In ruby it typically seems as red to purplish red in one crystal direction and orangey red in the other. Cutters can diminish the orangey red colour by positioning the table facet perpendicular to the long crystal direction. Even so, it's not always possible to position a ruby for ideal colour reappearance, because the potential loss of weight becomes excessive.
Ruby Colour :
Colour is the most noteworthy factor affecting a ruby's value. The finest ruby will range from a pure, vibrant red to a slightly purplish red colour. As the colour becomes too orangey or more purplish, the ruby moves down the quality scale. The highest quality rubies have intense colour permeation.
The colour must be neither dark nor light to be considered of the finest quality. If the colour is too dark it has a negative effect on the stone's lustre. At the other extreme, if the colour is too light, the stone is mistaken as a pink sapphire, even if colour strength or intensity is high. In some gem-producing nations such as Sri Lanka, pink colours were always considered ruby, while in other countries it is classified as pink sapphire. This distinction between rubies and pink sapphires is relatively new, having arisen in the 20th century. If a distinction is made, the line separating a ruby from a pink sapphire is not clear and highly debated. As a result of the difficulty and subjectivity of such distinctions, trade organizations like the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICGA) have adopted the broader definition for ruby which encompasses its lighter shades, including pink.
In ruby, the primary hue must be red. All other hues of the gem species corundum are called sapphire. Ruby may exhibit a range of secondary hues like orange, purple, violet and pink. The appearance of stones from a particular source often varies over time, and the original quality associated with that source might no longer match the material produced. New sources can produce beautiful stones very similar to rubies from classical sources or with a slightly different appearance.
The finest ruby is best described as being a vivid medium-dark toned red. Secondary hues add an additional complication. Pink, orange, and purple are the normal secondary hues in ruby. of the three, purple is preferred because, firstly, the purple reinforces the red, making it appear richer. Secondly, purple occupies a position on the colour wheel halfway between red and blue. In Burma where the term 'pigeon blood' originated, rubies are set in pure gold. Pure gold is itself a highly saturated yellow. When a purplish-red ruby is set in yellow, the yellow neutralizes its complement blue, leaving the stone appearing to be pure red in the setting.
Ruby Clarity :
Gem traders expect rubies to have at least some inclusions because inclusion free rubies are rare to find. A Ruby's value depends on the visibility of the inclusions. obvious inclusions or inclusions that diminish transparency or intensity lower a ruby's value affectedly. If large and conspicuous inclusions are located under the table facet, they greatly reduce the transparency, brilliance, and value of the stone. Inclusions can also limit a Ruby's durability. Noteworthy surface reaching fractures can pose durability threats.
Typical ruby clarity features include thin mineral inclusions called needles. When the mineral rutile is present in intersecting groups, it is called 'silk'. Needles might be short or long and slender, and they might appear to be woven tightly together. Ruby can also contain 'silk' made up of other minerals, small crystals, areas of colour variation, or inclusions that resemble fingerprints. Some inclusions can actually contribute positively to a gem's appearance. The presence of rutile 'silk' causes light to scatter across the surface that might otherwise be too dark. This adds softness to the intense colour and spreads more evenly across the ruby's crown. Needles that traverse can also cause the star effect, called asterism, when the stone is cut with a curved upper surface.
Ruby Carat :
Fine quality rubies over one carat are rare, but commercially viable rubies are commonly available in a wide range of sizes. The price per carat goes up considerably for ruby as it increases in size. A good quality 5 carat ruby might sell for about two to five times as much per carat (10-25 times the total stone value) as against a 1 carat ruby. These examples are not meant for pricing guidelines, but expound how much the per carat price can go up as the size and the quality rise.
Ruby also comes in more dull opaque forms that are fairly inexpensive, and are often polished into cabochons. A unique gemstone form composed of opaque red Ruby in contrasting green Zoisite is well known in Tanzania, and used as a minor gemstone for carving into ornaments. Ruby is also pleochroic, and will sometimes display a lighter and more intense colour when viewed at different angles. It is a tough and durable gem and the only natural gemstone harder than Ruby is Diamond. Despite this, Ruby is still subject to chipping and fracture if handled roughly, and care should be taken to ensure it is properly handled. Ruby was first synthesized in 1902. The process of creating synthetic Ruby is known as the Verneuil process. only experts can distinguish between natural and synthetic, lab-created Ruby.
Spinel, another red gemstone, is sometimes found along with rubies in the same gem gravel or marble. Red spinel may be mistaken for ruby by those lacking experience with gems. However, the finest red spinels can have a value approaching that of the average ruby. In fact, many old famous red gemstones thought to be Rubies were determined to actually be Spinel. The most famous ruby, the Black Prince's Ruby, is in fact Spinel. Garnet (particularly Pyrope) and red Tourmaline (Rubellite) may also resemble Ruby, though Ruby is significantly harder.
Varieties of Ruby include Burma Ruby, Burmese Ruby-Ruby with an exceptional red colour. occasionally also used to describe synthetic Ruby. Ruby Fuschite-Describes a dark red Ruby in a green Fuschite mica matrix found in India. Many deceitful names are given by unscrupulous dealers to less valuable red gems in connotation with Ruby to confuse inexperienced buyers. Generally speaking, any time the word Ruby is used with a prefix (except for those outlined above), it is a fake or a less valuable red gemstone. The list below describes false names for Ruby that are in fact Pyrope: Adelaide Ruby, American Ruby, Arizona Ruby, Australian Ruby, Bohemian Ruby, California Ruby, Cape Ruby, Colorado Ruby, Elie Ruby, Montana Ruby and Rocky Mountain Ruby.
other red gemstones have also been assigned false names in connotation with ruby. These include: Alabandine Ruby-Almandine Garnet, Ancona Ruby-Rose Quartz, Balas Ruby-Pink to pale red Spinel, Brazilian Ruby-Pink Topaz, Copper Ruby-Cuprite, Garnet Ruby-Red Garnet, Geneva Ruby-Synthetic Ruby, Ruby Garnet-Red Garnet, Siberian Ruby-Red Tourmaline and Verneuil Ruby-Synthetic Ruby.
Ruby is distinguished for its bright red colour, being the most famed and fabled red gemstone. Besides its bright colour, it is a most desirable gem due to its hardness, durability, lustre, and rarity. Transparent rubies of large sizes are even rarer than Diamonds. Ruby is the red variety of the mineral Corundum with Sapphire, the other gem variety. In essence, Ruby is a red Sapphire, since Ruby and Sapphire are identical in all properties except for colour. However, because of the special allure and historical significance, Ruby has always been classified as an individual gemstone.
Rubies can command the highest per carat price amongst the coloured stones. For better quality material, slight differences in colour can make significant differences in value. For a good colour ruby that's also free of visible inclusions, the price rises considerably. The per carat price of ruby can also increase dramatically as size increases, especially for quality stones.
All natural rubies have imperfections in them, including colour impurities and inclusions of rutile needles known as 'silk'. Gemmologists use these needle inclusions found in natural rubies to distinguish them from synthetics, simulants, or substitutes. usually the rough stone is heated before cutting. Almost all rubies today are treated in some form, with heat treatment being the most common practice. However, rubies that are completely untreated but still of excellent quality command a large premium.
Some rubies show a three-point or six-point asterism or "star". These rubies are cut into cabochons to display the effect properly. Asterisms are best visible with a single-light source, and move across the stone as the light moves or the stone is rotated. Such effects occur when light is reflected off the "silk" (the structurally oriented rutile needle inclusions) in a certain way. Furthermore, rubies can show colour changes-though this occurs very rarely-as well as chatoyancy or the "cat's eye" effect. A superb ruby is characterised by transparency, excess of redness, lustre, and heaviness. It has been stated that the Ruby's red glow comes from an internal flame that cannot be extinguished. With its hardness and durability, it can be a most desirable gem for gifts bringing effective fortune to its wearer.
Heating can remove the purplish coloration giving a more pure red colour. The process can also remove "silk" that can cause a gem to appear lighter in tone and be more opaque. It can also cause recrystallization of the silk inclusions to make them more prominent which allows the gemstone to have stronger asterism.
Natural colourless quartz can sometimes be subjected to thermal shock, known as "quench crackling." The colourless material is heated, and subjected to quenching in a cold, liquid solution, such as water. The sudden contraction causes the material to develop cracks that radiate throughout. Because these are surface-reaching fractures, the quartz can be dyed allowing the fractures to be filled with coloured liquid. This makes a convincing simulant to natural gems like emerald, ruby and sapphire, although the fractured and dyed appearance can quickly be seen under the microscope.
Another popular treatment like the lattice diffusion allows the penetration of certain elements into the atomic lattice of a gemstone during heat treatment, with the objective of changing or accentuating its colour. Beryllium which has a much smaller atom than titanium or chromium was able to diffuse all the way through a sapphire and ruby successfully changing or accentuating their colour.
The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. has received one of the world's largest and finest ruby gemstones. The 23.1 carats (4.62 g) Burmese Ruby, set in a platinum ring with diamonds, was donated by businessman and philanthropist Peter Buck in memory of his late wife Carmen Lucia. This gemstone displays a richly saturated red colour combined with an exceptional transparency. The finely proportioned cut provides vivid red reflections. The stone was mined from the Mogok region of Burma (now Myanmar) in the 1930s.
In 2007 the London jeweller Garrard & Co featured on their website a heart-shaped 40.63-carat ruby.
On December 13/14, 2011 Elizabeth Taylor's complete jewellery collection was auctioned by Christie's. Several ruby-set pieces were included in the sale, notably a ring set with an 8.24 ct gem that broke the 'price-per-carat' record for rubies ($512,925 per carat, i.e. over $4.2 million in total), and a necklace that sold for over $3.7 million.
The Liberty Bell Ruby is the largest mined ruby in the world. It was stolen in a heist in 2011.
On May 29, 2012, a 6.02-carat ruby ring sold for $551,000 per carat, setting a new record at auction for a coloured gemstone.