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Ruby has been regarded as “The King of Gems” for thousands of years. Ruby is the red variety of corundum (all other colors of corundum are sapphire). Ruby is also the most valuable member of the corundum family. The birthstone of July and the traditional gift of the 15th and 40th anniversaries, ruby has always been defied by a single characteristic – its radiant red color.
Red is the color of our most intense emotions – love and anger, passion and fury. It is associated with objects of power and desire – sports cars and red roses. So, it is no coincidence that ruby has long been associated with fire and blood. In fact, the most desirable rubies are often described by the trade as “pigeon’s blood” red. Color is the most significant factor affecting a ruby’s value. The finest ruby, as a pure, vibrant red to slightly purplish red. However, gems displaying a pure red color command the highest prices. The historical “pigeon’s blood” term is used to describe rubies that are red to slightly purplish or pinkish red color with a soft, glowing, red fluorescence. While a traditional description like this is useful for evoking emotion it is subject to misinterpretation.
Rubies are expected to have inclusions. Value is significantly diminished if those inclusions affect transparency or brilliance. Due to limited supplies of gem quality rubies, almost all gems are treated. The most common treatment is heating. Heating rubies can improve the color and/or dissolve small inclusions. Rubies that have not been heated are sold at a premium. There are more controversial treatments done to otherwise unsellable ruby gems, such as lead glass filling. Facet Foundry Jewelry Studio does not sell lead glass filled rubies, and we screen all the gems we purchase for potential problems.
Ruby is arguably the most historically significant gem. Rubies are mentioned four times in the Bible, as well as being called the most precious of the 12 stones created by God. In the first century AD, Pliny, the Roman scholar, included rubies in his Natural History. Legends surrounding ruby included the Indian belief that rubies enable their owners to live in peace with their enemies. Medieval Europeans believed that rubies would guarantee health, wealth, wisdom, and romantic success. Today, rubies are seen as a symbol of passion, making ruby jewelry the ideal romantic gift.