The July birthstone marks the middle of the year with a vivid slash of red across the calendar, commemorating the year's halfway mark with the daring blood-red of the ruby gemstone. Second in desirability only to the diamond, rubies have been associated with regality and luxury for hundreds of years. Take a gander at why rubies have remained so popular with jewelry lovers today and see the different ways you can incorporate them into your daily ensemble.
July's Birthstone - The Ruby
Rubies are red-colored gemstones that come from the mineral corundum, and range in hues from milky pinks to rich crimson reds. These stones have been mined all around the world, but the most precious rubies come from Myanmar and are commonly referred to as Burmese rubies. Along with diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires, rubies make up the quadruplet of most precious gemstones available, and rubies are particularly beloved because they have an extreme durability due to ranking a 9 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. This means that only diamonds and other rubies pose a danger of scratching and marring the red-colored stones.
Rubies Throughout History
Ever since rubies were first discovered, humanity has been revering the vibrant stone and using it for luxurious decoration. Even religious texts admire the ruby, and western cultures have notoriously included them in elaborate decorations and accessories for their kings and queens. Given their luxurious connotations, rubies can be found in some of the most exquisite pieces of jewelry and adornment from the past. Here are just a few examples of these extravagant historic rubies:
- Elizabeth Taylor's Ruby and Diamond Necklace - Just as well-known for her jewelry collection as her acting ability, Elizabeth Taylor's Cartier ruby and diamond necklace was gifted to her by her husband, Mike Todd.
- Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria's Ruby and Diamond Brooch - This delicate bow-shaped brooch/hair ornament with a large ruby center was gifted to the Austrian noble by her father in 1900 and recently sold for $372,304 at auction.
- Queen Victoria's Ruby and Diamond Brooch - Prince Albert gifted this 4.5 carat ruby brooch to his wife, Queen Victoria, in 1849.
- The Jubilee Ruby - This 15.99 carat Burmese ruby ring sold in 2016 for $14.2 million.
Ruby Properties and Symbology
Due to their blood-red color, rubies have been associated with passionate anger and love, as well as protection and the affairs of the heart. Some ancient cultures utilized rubies as a blood-connection, while others wore them as protective amulets. Similarly, rubies are closely connected to the heart chakra and can be used to promote honor, loyalty, and compassion in its wearers. Considering this, it's no wonder that these gemstones were linked with monarchial bodies for so many years.
The Cost of Luxury
Given that rubies are one of the most iconic gemstones ever cut and polished, their prices can be incredibly steep. This is why many people choose to purchase garnets instead because of their strong resemblance to rubies. That being said, you can find small carat rubies for a few hundred dollars; what you sacrifice in size and quality, you can make up for in price. However, rubies can absolutely give diamonds a run for their money in how expensive the most precious examples can cost. For instance, an astounding 4.10 carat oval cut Pigeon Blood ruby from Mozambique is currently listed at Leibish for a little over $52,500. Now, don't be too alarmed at this eye-watering amount, most good quality rubies will cost you anywhere between $1,000-$5,000.
How to Care for Ruby Jewelry
Rubies tend to accumulate a lot of grime because of their hardness, so you'll want to frequently clean any of your ruby jewelry using a mild soap and water. Make sure not to soak your ruby jewelry in the liquid for too long or else you might wrest the rubies loose from their settings. You can also visit a local jewelry store to have your rubies ultrasonically cleaned to get in really deep and attack the layers of grime while creating a lasting shine. Once you've cleaned your ruby jewelry, you can polish it using an appropriate gemstone polish and wipe it in with a lint-free cloth. Given that very few other gemstones can damage rubies, you might think it's safe to store them with your other jewelry. However, putting rubies near softer stones will put those other stones at risk of being scratched and chipped. The best way to store your ruby jewelry is in a cloth or velvet bag, or box, by itself.
Slip Into a Pair of Ruby-Red Slippers
Take one look at the gleam coming off of Dorothy Gale's ruby-red slippers in The Wizard of Oz, and you're sure to lust after the vivacious gemstone yourself. Thankfully, you don't have to have a summer birthday to warrant owning this July birthstone as they make for perfect ways to mark an anniversary, start an engagement, or just to treat yourself.