The July Birthstone is one of the most desirable birthstones of them all. Ruby is one of the “four precious stones”, alongside diamond, sapphire, and emerald. As befits one of the most beautiful gemstones we know today, it is the sole birthstone of July.
Keep reading to discover everything that you need to know about this stunning birthstone.
- What is the Birthstone for July?
- Myths About July Birthstone
- Locations of Ruby
- Physical Properties
- Famous People With Ruby Birthstones
- Famous Ruby Jewelry
- July Birthstone Jewelry
- Shopping for the Right Ruby
- Caring and Cleaning Ruby
What is the Birthstone for July?
The birthstone for July is the Ruby. Unlike other months that have multiple birthstones, the month of July has one the ruby and nothing else.
The word “ruby” comes from the Latin word “ruber” which is translated to mean red.
Ruby is actually a red sapphire, as both are made of the mineral corundum. Of all gem-quality corundum, it is only rubies that are called anything other than sapphire. All other colors of corundum are labeled under the umbrella of sapphire.
What makes the ruby special is the spectrum of quality that exists within the ruby spectrum. There are ruby stones that cost very little and then there are rubies that can cost millions of dollars. See below.
Myths and Meaning of July Birthstone
Despite the red heart being symbolistic of the concept of love, this hasn’t always been the case. The association with the heart didn’t actually begin until medieval times.
But, for 500 years or more, it is love and the heart which has been dominating the lore of the ruby. Often cut into a heart shape, and with the pure red desirability of the best stones, it isn’t difficult to see how we got to that point.
The ruby is mentioned in the Bible as being the first stone of the High Priests breastplate. It represented the Tribe of Reuven. Ruby is said to help with childbirth.
Mining Locations of Ruby
South East Asia has long been a vital region for the production of ruby. During the early 20th century, it was the border region of Thailand and Cambodia which produced excellent rubies of very high quality. Later came Vietnam, with Mozambique also becoming a major contributor. Through it all, however, it is Burma (now Myanmar) which has led the way.
For over 500 years, the Mogok region of Burma has shown its ability to consistently produce rubies with stunning vibrancy and color. Burmese rubies also have a soft red fluorescence which promotes the soft beauty of the ruby still further.
Here are the primary locations of famous ruby mines:
- Burma (Now Republic of Myanmar)
Other famous locations of ruby mines are India, Namibia , Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, and Vietnam.
Ruby is a variety of the mineral corundum. It is almost chemically identical to sapphire, also a variety of corundum. Whereas sapphire has traces of iron and titanium which produces the vivid blue color, ruby instead contains chromium.
Corundum is actually colorless, but completely colorless examples are incredibly rare. Instead, the crystals take in trace elements from the rocks around them. When chromium is added, this creates the vivid red color of the ruby. Chromium also adds the red fluorescence which adds great intensity to the color.
Found in both marble and basalt rocks, basalt tends to introduce more iron. This gives the ruby a slight purple tint, which reduces the desirability somewhat from that of chromium-based crystals. Considered the greatest of all gemstones by gemologists and scientists alike, it was a ruby that formed part of the world’s first laser in 1960. Still today, the gem is key to the production of lasers, although the use of synthetic rubies is more common for industrial uses.
With a hardness of 9 on the Mohs Scale, behind only diamond, ruby is very durable and suitable for everyday wear.
Different Colors of Rubies
Ruby gems have a red color. However, they can have different hues of red. Expert jewelers categorize ruby colors into three different categories:
Pinkish Red Rubies
The first category of rubies has pinkish-red gemstones. Red is the dominant hue in these stones. The pink color is just an overtone. Pinkish-red rubies’ color saturation ranges from light to dark. If you come across a gem called deep magenta ruby, it refers to dark pinkish-red ruby. On the other hand, lighter pinkish-red rubies are also called rose pink rubies, but lighter shades are sometimes classified as sapphires.
Red rubies are almost as precious as diamonds. They are predominantly red but can have some color blemishes. Rubies in this category can appear light, medium, or dark red. Of the three selections, the most valuable option is medium-red. These rubies are not too light or dark. Instead, their level of redness is somewhere in the middle.
Purplish Red Rubies
The third category of rubies contains purplish red stones. Purplish red gemstones have both chromium and titanium traces. Chromium gives the ruby stone its red hue while titanium turns it purple. Still, red is the dominant color in these stones. The most popularly bought purplish red rubies are either medium or dark.
Types of Rubies
Many types of ruby stones are available for sale. Here are some of the most wanted types of rubies you might encounter in jewelry.
As their name suggests, Burmese rubies originate from Myanmar (formerly called Burma). These gemstones boast a deep red tone because they have a high chromium concentration. An original Burmese ruby will almost always have a blemish.
Pigeon Blood Red Rubies
Pigeon Blood red rubies are the rarest because of their distinctive red hue. Unlike other rubies, pigeon blood stones have red as their primary and only color. They are the most unique and most wanted rubies.
Star rubies display asterism, i.e., a star visible under certain angles caused by other metals and minerals in the crystal lattice. The most sought-after star rubies have clearly visible six-rayed stars.
These gemstones come from Mozambique and Kenya. They may have a purplish to dark red shade. However, the best rubies have a dark red color. African rubies also appear in many quality levels and sizes.
These rubies have traces of chromium and iron. That’s why they have a darker tone. Thai rubies hail from Bangkok.
Tanzanian ruby gemstones come from Songea mines. Tinier rubies display higher color intensity than larger ones. They are among the affordable rubies.
Madagascar ruby stones originate from Vatomandry and Andilamena mines. They are high-quality gems in reddish-brown, orange, and red colors.
These gemstones are mined from Jagdalek and Badakshan. Each mine produces unique rubies. For instance, Jagdalek rubies have a light red to deep red color. Because of this, these gemstones boast distinctive properties not found in rubies from other regions.
July Birthstone Jewelry
Ruby suits “fancy” cuts very well, and its red color makes for spectacular effects in all settings. With ruby, it is almost all about the color. A pure, deep red is most sought after, although a slight hint of orange is acceptable. A stone that is too orange, or with too much purple usually has a much lower value than a good red example.
As well as providing ruby with its red color, chromium also creates inclusions within the stone. Usually, inclusions would diminish the value and desirability of any gemstone, but they are an asset for the ruby. The inclusions are called “silk”, as they give a soft appearance to the glow of the ruby. In extreme circumstances, the silk can also cause a very rare star effect. This will increase the value of the ruby significantly.
The inclusions are also a good indication of a ruby’s authenticity. All natural rubies will have inclusions as a consequence of the presence of chromium. Synthetic rubies have no such inclusions.
Shop our collection of Ruby Engagement Rings.
Famous Ruby Jewelry
Elizabeth Taylor Ruby and Diamond Necklace
Although Mike Todd was husband number 3, and the marriage lasted barely a year, it did give us one of the most stunning jewelry pieces ever created. The necklace has 7 round rubies, held within a lattice framework of round and baguette diamonds. The piece is finished with a diamond and ruby clasp. The necklace sold at auction in 2011 for $116m. All the proceeds went to charity.
The Wallis Simpson Collection
Wallis Simpson was the woman who brought down a monarchy, when King Edward VIII of England abdicated so he could marry the American divorcée. Wallis was an enthusiastic collector of jewelry, in particular that which contained rubies. She had a particular affection for a Cartier set of ruby jewelry. The entire collection of 214 pieces sold in 1987 for a then record $54m dollars.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Boucheron Ruby Set Belle Epoque Necklace
Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was presented with many wonderful pieces. These were later given to Queen Elizabeth II. Among them was the Boucheron Ruby set Belle Epoque Necklace. With classic Edwardian style, containing a floral pattern and it is a stunning work. Containing rubies and diamonds, the piece is unusual in that it almost entirely as it was when first made. The only alteration is some slight shortening.
Elizabeth Taylor’s Ruby and Diamond Ring
With her second appearance in this list, we have what might be Ms Taylor’s most famous piece. Designed by Van Cleef and Arpels, the ring was presented to Taylor by Richard Burton on Christmas Day 1968. The ruby weighs 8.24 carats and is pigeon blood color, the most desirable of all tones for any ruby.
Queen Amelie’s Ruby Necklace
The necklace was famously owned by Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. Hutton died aged just 33, and the diamond came into the hands of Queen Amelie of Portugal, the last queen consort of the European country. The ruby necklace soon became a fixture during the Queen’s public appearances, being her favorite piece.
What Factors Determine the Quality of Rubies?
The highest quality ruby has a pure red color which is neither light nor dark. It’s the most expensive ruby. Ruby gems with pink, purple, or orange overtones have a lower value.
Some rubies are heat-treated and unnatural. Original rubies have thin intersecting inclusions called silk. Rubies without inclusions don’t exist. A top-quality ruby should have silk inclusions with a star effect. However, the needle-like inclusions should not extend to the stone’s surface or interrupt its brilliance.
Gem-quality rubies are rarer than diamonds. Anything beyond 1 carat, which weighs 0.2 grams is rare. Hence, the more carats a stone has, the more expensive it will be. For instance, a 5 carat gem is the costly and one of the most noticeable.
Ruby crystals from various mines have different shapes. Jewelers consider these shapes when choosing the most appropriate cuts. Hence, the most popular cuts are oval and cushion. Facets can be rectangular, square, triangle, etc. Less popular ruby cuts include round, pear, marquise, and emerald.
Shopping For The Right Ruby
Carat for carat, a ruby is far rarer than a diamond, making it also far more expensive. Rubies over 1 carat are extremely rare, and only a handful of 3-carat rubies have ever been discovered.
Oval cuts are very common with rubies. Round cuts, unlike diamonds, are the example rather than the rule. Because inclusions are of benefit to a ruby, fancy cuts work very well as they offer a little more freedom to the cutter. Great effort is taken with diamonds to avoid flaws in the stone. This is not the case with rubies.
Look for good red color. Try it under various light conditions and avoid anything which looks too purple or too orange. Also, avoid stones being sold as “pink” rubies. Such things are a curious American invention. No other country recognizes a pink ruby, simply classing it as pink corundum. Also, try to see the ruby under a black (ultra-violet) light. A high-quality ruby will fluoresce with a soft red glow. The better the red color, the more fluorescence is generally present.
Even when not the center stone, rubies have the ability to make any already wonderful ring simply stunning. With a halo of French cut rubies around a 1.78c,t L color, VS2 clarity diamond, you have enough contrast to grab anybody’s attention. Milgrain topped bezels add a certain delicacy, and arch-inspired openwork on the under gallery completes the picture.
Tips for Buying a Ruby Ring
Rubies are among the four most precious stones on most engagement rings. When choosing your ruby
rings, consider these quality factors:
- The first thing to consider is color. Medium-red rubies are lovelier and more expensive because of the vivid, pure red tone. Ruby cuts that mostly appear on rings have oval and cushion shapes. The more carats a stone has, the more expensive it is. When considering clarity, look for stones with invisible intersecting inclusions.
- On the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, ruby (and sapphires in general) define a nine. A ruby is almost as hard as a diamond.
- Be careful not to buy sapphires. If a corundum crystal looks more pinkish or purplish than red, it’s not a ruby. That’s a sapphire.
- Other gems with a red color are often called “[location] ruby,” so always ensure that what you’re getting is a genuine ruby. Pyrope is a common substitute but is softer than a ruby.
- Choose rubies with a colored stone report from GIA, Gubelin Gem Lab, International Gemological Institute, or Gemological Institute SSEF.
- Choose rubies sourced from Fair Trade mining Companies.
- Use rings made of precious metals like white gold and platinum. These metals do not steal ruby’s glamour as yellow gold did in the past.
Caring and Cleaning For Ruby
As most rubies have heat treatments to improve the color, they do not stand up well to high temperatures during cleaning. As a result, only warm water and mild dish soap are truly safe as a cleaning method. Ultrasonic and steam cleaning can both cause serious damage to any ruby.
Cheaper rubies may also have oil filling to reduce the appearance of surface fractures. Irrevocable damage can occur under heating. Do not use any chemical cleaner, even if specified as safe for jewelry. Generally, only diamonds and one or two other gemstones are safe for such products.
Dry the ruby with a clean cloth and allow to finish air-drying.
Now that you’ve finished the June Birthstone article, you can learn about the other birthstones:
- January Birthstone
- February Birthstone
- March Birthstone
- April Birthstone
- May Birthstone
- June Birthstone
- July Birthstone
- August Birthstone
- September Birthstone
- October Birthstone
- November Birthstone
- December Birthstone
Talk To A Jewelry Expert
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