September 10, 2021
6 min read
R for Ruby
R for Ruby

Roses, flames, love, passion or anger? What do you imagine thinking about the color red?

Meanwhile, red is the color of rubies – the most expensive and desired colored gems in the world. 


Ruby is a variety of the corundum mineral species, which also includes sapphire. 

It is one of the most important gems in the colored stone market, since it commands the highest per-carat price. 

Initially the mineral corundum is colorless – there are special trace elements that cause variations in its shades. Chromium is the trace element that causes ruby’s red, ranging from an orangy red to a purplish red. The more chromium, the stronger the red color. Chromium can also cause fluorescence, which adds to the intensity of the red color.

The most renowned rubies, like those from Myanmar, the Himalayas, and northern Vietnam, typically form in marble. Since marble has low iron content, the rubies that originate in marble lack iron. Because of this, many have an intense red color.

In other locations, rubies can be found in basalt rocks. Rubies from these sources can have higher iron content, which can make the rubies darker and less intense in color.

Mineral: corundum
Color: red
Mosh Hardness: 9
Origin: Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Pakistan, Laos, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania
Superpower: holds the power of life
Birthstone: July
Anniversary: 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries


In ancient Sanskrit ruby is called «ratnaraj», or «king of precious stones». Early cultures believed that these gems possess special powers. For instance:

According to ancient Hindus, those who offered fine rubies to the god Krishna were later reborn as emperors;

Warriors from Burma thought that rubies made them invincible in a combat;

Indian people believed that rubies enabled their owners to live in peace with their enemies.

Rubies are even mentioned 4 times in the Bible – in association with beauty and wisdom.

The first rubies were discovered in Burma (new called Myanmar), a country in Southeast Asia. Since at least 600 AD, this country was the only source of rubies, specifically the Mogok region – the “valley of rubies”. Even after these stones were discovered in other countries, Burmese rubies remain the standard by which the global ruby production is judged. 

Today, the desire for ruby is just as great as it always has been. Just remember: in 1968 Richard Burton presented Elizabeth Taylor a magnificent ring by Van Cleef & Arpels set with an 8.24 carat ruby. While being sold at the auction, it caused such a fuss that the bidding was only closed at $4.2 million.

R for Ruby
Elizabeth Taylor wearing her Van Cleef & Arpels Ruby ring

Nowadays, rubies, the symbol of prestige, power and love, are increasingly in demand for outstanding engagement and cocktail rings or luxurious jewellery sets. 

Lucky charm

“The ruby has the strength of a lion, the fearlessness of an eagle and the wisdom of a snake,” –  the Eastern proverb.

For a long time, the ruby has been considered a gem that symbolizes passion and protects love, bringing good luck to the conquerors of hearts.

Ruby was also used to save from the torments of love – especially when a person was grieving over the death of a loved one.

R for Ruby
Faidee Red Emperor necklace with Rubies & Diamonds

As a lucky charm, this bloody stone brings good luck to those who make their own way in life – it gives additional strength to such people.

The ruby ring is recommended to be worn by researchers, scientists and managers of large enterprises – everyone who, by the nature of their activity, must constantly maintain clarity of thinking and keep in mind a lot of disparate facts.

Quality factors


Color is the factor affecting a ruby’s value the most. The finest stone has a pure, vibrant red to slightly purplish red color. Pure shades has the highest prices, while stones with overtones of orange and purple are less valued. 

Too dark color has s a negative effect on the stone’s brightness. If the color is too light, the stone may be considered to be a pink sapphire. 

Burmese rubies are considered the finest – today they are extremely rare, creating a fuss on auctions. They have a specific and saturated color, caused by a high chromium content in the ground where rubies are extracted. Moreover, they have natural fluorescence, which makes the stones «alive» and internally illuminated.

R for Ruby
Bachruch Ruby & Diamond brooch


Rubies without inclusions are practically nonexistent. However, obvious inclusions, or inclusions that reduce transparency or brightness, lower a ruby’s value dramatically.

Typical ruby’s inclusion is thin mineral needles. When the mineral is rutile and needles are present in intersecting groups, it is called silk.

Sometimes rutile needles can actually affect positively to a gem’s appearance. The presence of rutile silk causes light scattering across facets that might otherwise be too dark. This adds softness to the color and spreads the color more evenly across the ruby’s crown.

Moreover, such intersecting needles can also cause the star effect, called asterism.


Rough ruby is very expensive – that’s why many cutters try to save as much weight as possible. Firstly, a ruby’s crystal shape dictates its suitability for certain cuts: the most common are hexagonal shapes, ovals, cushions and step-cut pavilions with concentric rows of rectangular or square facets. Round, triangular, emerald-cut, pear, and marquise rubies are also available. However, these shapes are rare in larger sizes and higher qualities.

Secondly, pleochroism — the appearance of different colors in different crystal directions — also influences cut. In ruby it typically appears as red to purplish red in one crystal direction and orangy red in the other.

Carat weight

Fine-quality rubies over 1 ct are very rare, but commercial-quality rubies are commonly available in a wide range of sizes. The price per carat goes up significantly for ruby as it increases in size.

Reuven’s comment

“If you were looking for the best gemstone for investment, congratulations! You’ve found it – it is a Ruby!

Unheated Burmese Ruby – which costs crazy money – is the dream of any collector. The price of this Ruby is growing from year to year since its reserves are thinning.

Almost all Rubies contain inclusions. A pure red gemstone is a huge treasure and rarity, costing of a small island”.

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