Ruby - Lord of Gems

by : Nigel Makin

The Ruby Gemstone is the red variety of Corundum and the birthstone for the month of July, it is also the anniversary stone to celebrate forty years of marriage. The finest colour is a pure rich red with a hint of blue, the Ruby gets it's colouring due to the presence of iron and chromium. Rubies are mined in Afghanistan, Australia,Cambodia, India and Kenya, Myanmar (formerly Burma) other good sources are Pakistan, Russia, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam. Within the United States, North Carolina also produces gem quality Rubies.

Heat treatment is very popular on these gemstones especially with rough stones that would not normally make the grade as gem quality, this treatment enhances the gems colour and clarity by melting some of the 'silk' that is common place in this jewel. This form of treatment often disturbs and melts many of the natural inclusions in a Ruby and it is these tell tale signs that can indicate as to whether the stone has been heat treated or not, however a good reputable jeweler should be more than happy to offer a certificate to validate treatment. Despite the stones hardness the Ruby has many flaws and cracks which can be well hidden by the application of oils, waxes and resins it's structure means that it has a preferred direction of separation this can make the stone brittle and prone to damage.

Burmese deep blood red stones are the most craved and by far the most valuable, these are known as pigeon's blood rubies. Thai rubies are a darker more purplish red, but very often they are cleaner than Burmese Gemstones with less inclusions of rutile needles.
The inclusions that a Ruby contains can very often give away where they originate, for instance Burmese rubies very often have inclusions of rutile, olivine and Spinel.
Burmese stones do flouresce under ultra-violet light and some top quality rubies will also fluoresce in daylight but a good way to single out a synthetic Ruby is their very strong fluorescence. When rutile needles align in a Ruby this can display a six-ray star, this is known as asterism, a cat's eye effect is also possible in rubies but this is exceptionally rare. Most rubies are usually found in the step or mixed cut.

Ancient Hindu's referred to the Ruby Gemstone as the Lord of Gems and for centuries it has been mistaken for Spinel. Red Corundum is called Ruby, every other colour of Corundum is known as Sapphire. The Ruby Gemstone is worn for good health and gives protection from enemies, it's protection keeps on working for four eyes from the day it was last worn.
Ruby lasers are used by tattooists and also for the removal of hair. Natural healers use the Ruby Gemstone to ward off headaches and to give protection from psychic attack.

The Ruby has a hardness of 9 on the Moh scale and is second in durability only to the Diamond. Because the Gemstone is so durable it is ideal for use in Jewelry that will take a lot of wear and tear, in fact it is a good idea to keep a close eye on the setting or claws that hold your Ruby in place as these will usually falter before the stone will.
The best way to clean your Ruby Jewelry is with a toothbrush and mild soap and warm water, do avoid chemical cleaners as this could have an adverse effect on any oils used to treat your Ruby, however it is perfectly safe to use a steam or ultra-sonic cleaner on your beautiful red Corundum.