The name of this dazzling red gem comes from the Latin Rubeus which means red. Due to its astonishing luster, people used to believe that ruby had an inner fire, and it radiated light from within. According to legends, Ruby is the most valuable gemstone among the 12 others God has created.
Because of its blood red color, many cultures have associated rubies with power and wealth. People presumed that wearing a ruby on the left, near the heart, would protect the wearer from harm, and they would live a peaceful life. The Ancient Burmese people called ruby, stone of the soldier, and they believed that physically inserting a ruby into their body would give them invulnerability.
Ruby has a very special place in the Hindu culture, they called rubies, king of all gemstones. The Kalpa Tree, a symbolic tree made out of precious gemstones to be gifted to Hindu gods, had rubies as its fruits. Hindus also leave rubies and other precious stones to their temples as tribute. Hindus believed that if they worshipped Krishna with rubies, they would reborn as a powerful emperor or king.
Ruby is the red variety of the corundum mineral, and it owes its captivating color to the trace amounts of chromium in its chemical structure. Since both of them are varieties of the corundum mineral, ruby and sapphire are cousins. These two cardinal gemstones share all the same internal and external properties except for color. Color distribution in a ruby is even and consistent. A ruby in its raw form is opaque, but once it is cut, it is as bright as a diamond.
The chromium element, which gives ruby its color, is also responsible for the cracks in the internal structure of a ruby. As a result of this, rubies larger than three carats are very rare, and valuable.
Myanmar has been the main source of rubies throughout history. The Mogok Valley, located in Myanmar has given the world some of the finest rubies. Rubies from Myanmar are known for their distinct “pigeon’s blood” color.
Thailand, Afghanistan, India, and Cambodia are some of the countries where ruby is mined. Republic of Macedonia is the only country in Europe with ruby sources. Macedonian rubies have a very distinct raspberry color.
Just like its cousin sapphire, ruby has a hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs scale, which makes it a very durable gemstone to be used in rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. As a matter of fact, the ruby is the second hardest gemstone, right after the diamond.
Almost all rubies have some internal and external imperfections. The internal imperfections of rubies are called inclusions, and imperfections on the surface are called blemishes. Since these imperfections are only found in natural rubies, they are a great method to identify a genuine ruby from a synthetic one.
While there is no globally accepted ruby grading system, they may be classified according to their external and internal features, mainly their color, and clarity. Rubies with a blood red color are regarded as the most valuable ones.
Rubies in this category are the most common ones as they make up for 60% of all the natural rubies. Decent quality rubies have a light red color and generally have obvious inclusions.
Roughly 30% of all the natural rubies are in this category. Superior quality rubies have an average red color, and they have mild inclusion.
Rubies in this category are considerably rare as they only make up for 10% of all the natural rubies. Finest rubies have a dark red color, and they contain slight inclusions.
Rarest rubies are in this category since only a mere 1% of them qualify to be here. Prodigious quality rubies have an extraordinarily deep red color, and they only contain very small inclusions. This class includes the rubies known for their strong brilliance.