July Birthstone: Ruby

June 15, 2021

July Birthstone: Ruby

July’s birthstone is one of the most coveted gemstones, the ruby. Rubies come in various shades of red and are traditionally thought of as deep and rich in color. However, they also occur in more delicate shades of red closer to pink and purple hues as well as earthy orange-red and red-brown tones. 

Rubies are a variety of the oxide mineral corundum, the same hardy base material sapphires are composed of. A red sapphire is technically considered a ruby, but this classification of gemstone can be a source of debate among gemologists. The depth and intensity of a ruby’s red color is due to the amount of chromium present in each stone. Rubies with deep, rich red tones have a higher content of chromium and are considered more valuable. As the amount of chromium decreases, the stones become lighter in color. The resulting color may be more pink, as opposed to red; therefore, an argument can be made as to where to draw the line between a dark pink sapphire and a light pink ruby.

The beautiful red tones of rubies were initially associated with blood and were thought to represent love, passion, vitality, happiness, and youthful energy. Beyond their beauty, rubies are popular due to their durability and are perfect for everyday wear in the form of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings. With a hardness rating of 9, secondary only to diamonds, rubies are resistant to scratching and can endure the test of time making them a great colored stone option for an engagement ring. 

Most rubies need only warm soapy water and a gentle brushing to maintain their beauty, but cleaning recommendations can vary based on the treatment of the stone. It is common for rubies to be heat treated, which results in a more pure color but does not affect the durability of the stone. Natural and heat treated rubies can undergo ultrasonic or steam cleaning if necessary. However, if a ruby has been dyed or glass-filled, its strength may be compromised and should not be subjected to cleaning beyond the use of a damp cloth.

While deposits of rubies can be found in numerous areas around the world, including in the United States - specifically in Montana, they are primarily sourced from regions in Asia and Africa. The world’s oldest source of rubies is in the Southeast Asian nation of Myanmar – formerly Burma. Like most gemstones, rubies vary in quality, and therefore price. High-quality rubies can be some of the most expensive gems, even when compared to other gemstones and have sold for over $1M per carat. The Sunrise Ruby is considered the world’s most expensive ruby. The 25.59 carat Burmese ruby is of the finest purity and color; ‘pigeon’s blood’ red. It sold at auction for $30.42M and is currently the most expensive colored gemstone ever auctioned. That said, some rubies are priceless. 

This brings us to introduce you to Ruby Zaj Sawv Vang-Johnson, a precious gem that graced us with her presence on June 7, 2020. This powerful little nugget is one of the reasons Emily spends so much time in Seattle, Auntie duties!

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