July's birthstone is the beautiful and highly coveted Ruby. Its deep red hue has enchanted collectors and jewelry enthusiasts for thousands of years.
Ruby is a stone from the mineral family corundum. It is a highly valuable stone, and the most valuable variation of corundum. Corundum is originally colorless, and the presence of chromium in the mineral gives it a red color. The deepest red rubies have high amounts of chromium. This element also gives rubies a fluorescent glow under ultraviolet light.
Over centuries, ruby has been cherished and held in high esteem as one of the world's great treasures. The name "ruby" comes from the Latin ruber, meaning red. In ancient Myanmar, warriors would wear rubies on their armor, as it was believed that the stone would help them succeed in battle. In other regions such as India, rubies were offered as gifts to deities. Rubies are also mentioned many times in the Bible, with one verse stating that "wisdom is more valuable than rubies".
Many stones have historically thought to be ruby. These stones include garnet, red spinel, and tourmaline. A famous example of this was the Black Prince's Ruby, one of England's crown jewels. Dating back to the 13th century, this stone was long thought to be a large ruby, but was discovered in the late 18th century to be a red spinel. These discoveries only add to the value and rarity of a true ruby.
Today, the most valuable rubies come from Myanmar (Burma). Rubies that come from this region are often untreated, and therefore very valuable. Other regions in which rubies are found are Eastern Africa, Pakistan, and Thailand. The value of these stones is many graded by color and clarity. The most valuable rubies have a rich and vivid red color. The clarity of these stones also is factor in ruby grading. Although it is almost impossible to find a flawless ruby, stones without visible inclusions are worth more. When rubies are cut as cabochons, some exhibit a star effect.
Ruby today has not lost its status as one of the world's most beautiful stones. As July's birthstone, its red color reflects the fiery heat of the summer. It is also known as the stone for the 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries.
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