July Birthstone
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RUBY

Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum, colored by the element chromium. All other colors of gem-quality corundum are called sapphire, which means color is key for this royal gemstone.
Accordingly, the name “ruby” comes from rubeus, the Latin word for red. In ancient Sanskrit, ruby translated to ratnaraj, which meant “king of precious stones.” These fiery gems have been treasured throughout history for their color and vitality.
Burma’s Mogok Valley historically produced the finest ruby material, famous for its deep blood-red color with purplish hues. These Burmese Rubies, also called Pigeon’s Blood Rubies, command a premium over brownish or orange-tinged varieties from other regions. The Mong Hsu region of Myanmar began producing rubies in the ‘90s after discovering that heat treatment improved the color saturation. Other ruby deposits exist in Vietnam, Thailand, India, parts of the Middle East, East Africa, and even the United States.
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Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum, colored by the element chromium. All other colors of gem-quality corundum are called sapphire, which means color is key for this royal gemstone.
Accordingly, the name “ruby” comes from rubeus, the Latin word for red. In ancient Sanskrit, ruby translated to ratnaraj, which meant “king of precious stones.” These fiery gems have been treasured throughout history for their color and vitality.
Burma’s Mogok Valley historically produced the finest ruby material, famous for its deep blood-red color with purplish hues. These Burmese Rubies, also called Pigeon’s Blood Rubies, command a premium over brownish or orange-tinged varieties from other regions. The Mong Hsu region of Myanmar began producing rubies in the ‘90s after discovering that heat treatment improved the color saturation. Other ruby deposits exist in Vietnam, Thailand, India, parts of the Middle East, East Africa, and even the United States.
In his treatise on the mineral kingdom, Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder spoke of ruby under the name carbunculus, a Latin word for glowing coals. Its later descendant, carbuncle, went on to describe a red gem more specifically, and in the 15th century, was used as a synonym for something of great splendor. When they’re exposed to UV rays, rubies can exhibit fluorescence, further tying the July birthstone to flames and fire.
To Indians, who likely had access to rubies far earlier than Europeans, the ruby is called ratnaraj, Sanskrit for king of precious stones. Corundum, the family name for both sapphire and ruby can be traced back to ancient India as well. We get the word from korund in Hindi and kuruvinda in Sanskrit. Padmaraga, a word meaning red lotus, was often used to describe the most desirable rubies. As legend has it, owning a ruby in ancient Indian culture would ensure wealth, success, and a long life. And according to one Indian gemstone scholar, some of the world’s most valuable rubies might still be hidden away in the safekeeping of the country’s oldest noble families - unknown to museum visitors, auction houses, and the rest of the world.
Rubies have long been associated with blood. Among Burmese soldiers, it was believed that wearing a Ruby on the left would make the wearer invincible. This belief was so strong that some soldiers inserted Rubies into their flesh under the skin. They then were believed to be safe from wounds, and were said to be very fierce in battle as well.
The idea that Rubies protected from wounds had a flip side as well. Soldiers believed that Ruby bullets would inflict more harm. There are instances of this belief as late as the early 1900s.Rubies were said to have many healing benefits as well. The famous gem explorer George Frederick Kunz wrote in his profoundly influential text The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, that ‘Rubies… were thought to be sovereign remedies for hemorrhages of all kinds, as well as for all inflammatory diseases; they were also believed to exercise a calming influence and to remove anger and discord.’
Ruby’s inner glow seems to hint that perhaps it contains an inner fire. This visual effect may have inspired some curious bits of lore. A ruby placed in water could bring it to a boil. If hidden in a wrapping, the gem could shine through and reveal its presence. Stories are told of rubies that emit their own light. One was even described as “shining like a torch.” All varieties of rubies were thought to hold similar properties. In addition to their protective powers, they reputedly helped control evil thoughts, dispel anger, and resolve disputes. However, darker rubies were considered “male” and lighter gems “female.” 
An 8th-century Arabic book on dreams by Achametis discusses the significance of dreams of rubies. If a king dreams of a crown set with red jewels such as rubies, this indicates he’ll have great joy and fortune. His enemies would fear him even more. Other sources tell that dreams of rubies indicate success in business. For tillers of the soil, the dreams mean a good harvest.
[Rubies] are mentioned four times in the bible, always in association with beauty and wisdom. Is is this historical context of beauty and wisdom which led rubies to become sought after throughout the western world, revealing themselves as a favorite gemstone amongst European royalty and upper classes. Many holders of ruby gemstones believed they possessed a unique inner fire. It was told that a ruby placed in water would bring the water to a boil and that wrapping a ruby to hide it was fruitless as the gem could shine though any covering to reveal its true presence. Medieval Europeans wore rubies to guarantee their health, wisdom, and success in love. Rubies became symbols of passion, wealth, and success due to westerner's affinity for the stones. According to legends, rubies protective powers help the wearer to control evil thoughts, dispel anger, and resolve disputes. It is no wonder then, that rubies have held high esteem throughout history as important gemstones. With a rich cultural heritage, it is important to understand where rubies come from, and how they are evaluated.
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