July’s birthstone is known as the king of precious stones, the gorgeous red ruby. The ruby’s name is derived from the Latin Rubeus meaning red and these beautiful gemstones have been treasured for centuries for their fluorescent vibrant color. Ruby is really a red form of corundum, with all other colors being sapphires.
The presence of the element chromium is actually what gives this stone the appearance of glowing from within, and at the same time, is also responsible for its scarcity, as it causes cracks and fissures in the stones. It’s for this reason that most rubies don’t grow large enough to make fine quality stones, and for those that do, their price can be higher than diamonds.
Rubies are also very tough. Only diamonds are harder than rubies. Because the stone is so strong, rubies are used in many industrial applications, including lasers and medical instruments. In fact, a ruby powered the first working laser in 1960.
The finest rubies have historically come from Burma and are known as pigeon’s blood rubies. Ancient Burmese warriors even implanted rubies in their skin to make them invincible in battle! Myanmar also began mining rubies in the 1990s after it was discovered that heat-treating the stones could improve the color. Ruby deposits are also found in India, Thailand, Vietnam, East Africa, the Middle East, and also the United States.
Because of its rich, vibrant red color, it’s no surprise to learn that rubies are associated with the life-giving force of blood. In alignment with that association, rubies are thought to convey courage, increase awareness, bring the wearer success in battle as well as in finances and love and protect the wearer from evil. Perhaps this association is behind the powers of Dorothy’s ruby red slippers in the Wizard of Oz!
Rubies were particularly revered in Asia, and evidence suggests that the precious red stones were traded on China’s legendary Silk Road as early as 200 B.C. The Chinese even buried rubies in the foundations of buildings to bring good fortune to the inhabitants.
Historically, other stones were mistakenly believed to be rubies when they were actually a red spinel, tourmaline, and garnet. Even the famous Black Ruby, which is one of England’s Crown Jewels, was eventually discovered to be spinel.
In 1919, one of the largest rubies in the world was found, named the Peace ruby, a huge rough 42 carat stone discovered in Burma just two days after the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, ending World War I. The stone was cut and polished in Bombay, India and eventually sold to an American buyer. The present location of the Peace ruby is a mystery.
Besides being the July birthstone, the ruby is a traditional 40th wedding anniversary gift, symbolizing love, passion, and loyalty. For a loved one lucky enough to be born in July, choose a gift of this Claddagh Birthstone Ring Sterling Silver - July Ruby set as the heart.
And even though the ruby has no traditional association with Ireland,
its vibrant color is referenced in the verses of the traditional farewell song,
The Parting Glass: Her rosy cheeks and ruby lips,
I own she has my heart in thrall.
The gift of a fine piece of Irish jewelry featuring the ruby will surely have the recipient’s heart in thrall and in debt to you forever!