July Birthstone May 1, 2018 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog

The ruby is one of only 4 precious stones, along with diamond, sapphire, and emerald. All others are semi-precious and carry neither the same affection nor (usually) the same value. As befits probably the most beautiful gemstone we know today, it is the sole birthstone of July and the height of summer.

Ruby is actually a blue 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. In short, in true Henry Ford fashion, you can have any color ruby you want, as long as it’s red.

In true Henry Ford fashion, you can have any color ruby you want, as long as it’s red.

Myths and Meaning of July Birthstone

Ruby Stone Birthstone July

Despite now being forever entwined with the concept of love, this hasn’t always been the case. The association with the heart didn’t actually begin until medieval times. Before that, the blood-red color led to the ruby’s ability to prevent hemorrhaging from being its main use.

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.

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.

Physical Properties

Buccellati Ruby Cocktail Ring

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 which 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.

July Birthstone Jewelry

Vintage Ruby and Diamond Earrings

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 People with a Ruby Birthstone

The birthstone for July, ruby has lots of famous people associated with it.

Actors

  • Margaret Robbie
  • Tom Cruise
  • Shelley Duvall
  • Kevin Bacon
  • Anjelica Houston

 Singers and Musicians

  • Missy Elliott
  • Mick Jagger
  • Slash
  • 50 Cent
  • Ringo Starr

Politicians

  • Nelson Mandela
  • George W Bush
  • Calvin Coolidge
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • George McGovern

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.

Shopping For The Right Ruby

Large Ruby Buccellati Ring

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 with diamonds, are the example rather than the rule. Because inclusions are of benefit to a ruby, fancy cuts work very well as the 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 a 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.

July Birthstone Jewelry Examples

Tours Ring

It’s almost as if “go big or go home” was coined for this ring. Here is a natural ruby of exceptional color. Most stones undergo heat treatment in order to improve the color, and rarely is a ruby deliberately left untouched thanks to its natural color. But this one has had no heat treatment whatsoever. Not only that, but the center ruby is 3.73ct. This makes it a perfect candidate to be a collector’s stone, even when not set. As part of a vintage ring, with diamonds on each shoulder, it becomes incredibly special.

Ruby Halo Engagement Ring

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.

Buccellati Ruby Ring

Italian ring design breaks all the rules. Where other design houses have leaned more towards subtlety, Buccellati and others continue to produce huge, bold designs centered around the use of yellow gold. This M. Buccellati signed ring has an amazing 3.38ct ruby, surrounded by white gold openwork and a yellow gold setting.

French Cut Ruby Wedding Band

Not so long ago, wedding bands were strictly plain yellow gold. Then we moved to white gold or platinum, perhaps with engravings. Now, the genre has taken even greater steps forward, inspired by its own often unheralded history. Wedding bands in ancient times were incredibly decorative, often using several precious stones. This wedding band has 2.40ct of French cut rubies in platinum, enhanced by exquisite milgrain. At exact opposite positions on the band is a diamond, and delicate engravings adorn the sides of the band itself.

Estate Ruby and Diamond Cocktail Ring

Nobody ever said cocktail rings should be shy and retiring. As a result, this incredible ring has 0.75ct of pave diamonds and 0.80ct of calibre rubies above a scroll-inspired gallery. The design extends along the band, following the natural curve of the mount. It is very pretty, and incredibly daring, a ring fit for any occasion.

Caring and Cleaning For Ruby

Estate Ruby Ring

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.

Click here to read more about all the birthstones.