Queen of the Gemstones

The Ancient Romans considered this to be the stone of the war-god Mars.  It has adorned the crowns and sceptres of royals for centuries.  It is ruby, one of the most rare and precious gemstones.

ruby crystal

Ruby Crystal - photo by Rob Lavinsky of irocks.com

 
Ruby is a red variety of corundum, a mineral with a value of 9 on Moh’s scale of hardness.  Pure corundum is colourless, but traces of chromium give ruby its legendary colour.
 
ruby crystals in matrix

Ruby Crystal - photo by Rob Lavinsky of irocks.com

 

High quality rubies are mined in limited places.  The most famous rubies are Burmese rubies, mined in Myanmar (formerly Burma).  These stones are often of the highly sought after and expensive “pigeon’s blood” colour.  This is a pure red colour with a hint of blue. 

The colour of rubies is what most highly influences the stone’s price.  Inclusions are acceptable and don’t affect the quality of the stone as long as they don’t affect the stone’s transparency.  Transparency is the secondary factor affecting the price of rubies.

faceted ruby with inclusions

Faceted ruby gemstone with inclusions - photo by Humanfeather

 

Today most rubies are treated in some way.  Heat treatment, to improve colour, is the most common.  Synthetic rubies are also readily available.  Treated and synthetic stones have lower prices than natural stones of the same quality.  Because of their rarity, untreated rubies of excellent quality command premium prices.

Ruby, the “queen of the gemstones” is the birthstone for July.

Ruby and sterling silver earrings

Ruby and sterling silver necklace

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3 thoughts on “Queen of the Gemstones

    • No, the only writing I do is here and on a group blog. I’m just fascinated by stones and like to know as much as I can about the materials I use.

  1. Julie…one more thing lol. My daughter is asking for a ruby ring for Christmas…she’s 9. I can’t find anything in my price range…wondering if you have any real or faux ruby rings that would fit the bill? Drop me an email if you have a chance. Thanks pal

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