Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ruby - The Red Sapphire

The ruby is a form of the mineral corundum, as is sapphire The only difference between sapphires and rubies are color. If a piece of corundum mineral is a shade of red, it is a ruby. If it is any other color it is a sapphire. Ruby is the birthstone for the month of July. Along with sapphire, emerald and diamond, it is one of the four precious stones.

The name ruby comes from the Latin word ruber, which means red. About 90 per cent of the world's rubies come from Myanmar, Burma. Myanmar's Valley of Rubies produces the most valuable and rare color of ruby called 'pigeon's blood'. The working conditions of the mines in this region are horrendous, and there are actions being taken to improve the working conditions there. Rubies are also minded in Vietnam, Thailand, Ceylon,. Northern Pakistan, Nepal and Afghanistan.

Rubies have been known and treasured since antiquity. They are mentioned in the bible. India especially has a long tradition of ruby appreciation. The gemstone is mentioned in ancient Indian literature. Even the name of the mineral corundum is a derivative of the Sanskrit word kuruvinda.

Rubies are among the hardest substances known. Only diamond is harder. This has led to the use of ruby-tipped blades for the cutting of other very hard materials, and other industrial applications. Most of these applications use synthetic rubies. Synthetic rubies are also used for jewelry, and make a more affordable choice. But they should always be disclosed as synthetic ruby.

Most natural rubies today are heat-treated in some way to improve clarity and color. With rubies, color is the determining factor of value. Next is clarity. There are authentic rubies used in less expensive forms of jewelry that are more opaque. High quality rubies are very rare, even more rare than diamonds, especially stones that are over 3 carats in weight. A 16 carat ruby was sold at auction for over $3.2 million.

There is also a gemstone virtually identical to ruby called spinel. It comes in many colors, but the most popular is red. These stones can be found in the same locations as authentic ruby, and one of the few ways to tell the difference between the stones is by testing its hardness. Ruby is much harder.

A ruby is the same type of mineral as sapphire except for trace amounts of chromium, which give it its red color. Ruby red is the color of passion, of blood, of life itself. And that makes all the difference.

1 comment:

  1. Nice posting, thanks for sharing with us. Your blog is great and helped me feel better knowing about the ruby gemstone. Thanks again!