What is a Ruby?
Ruby is the most valuable variety of the corundum mineral species, which also includes sapphire.
The word ruby comes from the Latin ruber, which means red. In Sanskrit texts, the ruby is referred to as the ‘king of gems’. This magnificent gemstone is available in different hues of red – from pinkish to bluish red. Like sapphire, ruby is also a variety of corundum, one of the hardest minerals on the earth. From the beginning of civilisation, rubies were prized possessions of many kings and queens. In the middle ages, the royals and the aristocrats in Europe coveted rubies more than any other gemstone.
Rubies can command the highest per-carat price of any colored stone. This makes ruby one of the most important gems in the colored stone market.
For centuries, Burma (Myanmar) has been the key source for the finest rubies. These gemstones are also sourced from Mozambique, Thailand, Sri Lanka, China, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, India, Cambodia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Nepal, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Tajikistan, the USA and Vietnam. The Montepuez mine in Mozambique, which was discovered in 2009, is the world’s largest known ruby deposit.
Caring for Your Ruby
To ensure the long life of your glowing rubies, here are some tips that you can follow:
- Unless it’s your wedding ring, take it off when performing everyday chores.
- Put them on after applying perfume, lotion and hairspray to prevent the surface from getting cloudy.
- Gently clean your rubies using a soft toothbrush and mild liquid soap water. Immediately rinse with fresh warm water and dry with a lint-free cloth.
- Store them separately to your other jewellery to avoid scratches from harder stones and to also prevent your ruby from scratching softer stones.
Stick to the Four Rules of Jewellery
- No swimming
- No Gardening
- No heavy lifting
- No gym workouts.
The ruby crystal’s shape decides its suitability for certain cuts. The most common shape a ruby comes in is a flat tabular hexagonal shape. Commonly, rubies are cut in oval and cushion shapes, with brilliant-cut crowns and step-cut pavilions. Round, triangular, emerald, pear and marquise rubies are also available, but are rare in larger sizes.
All these factors translate into certain quality grades. Although not universally followed, these grades are the only standardisation available when buying rubies and ruby jewellery.