The Jewelry Insider

July 16, 2008

Find out the whys, whats, wheres and worth of July’s red-hot birthstone – a rocking ruby.

RubyThere’s a saying that the ‘price of wisdom is above rubies’. That is certainly true, but hey, you can’t wear wisdom on your finger or around your neck. Ok – so wisdom is probably somewhat more useful than a ruby or two – but this saying just goes to show how highly prized these little red gems have been throughout history.

In England for example, the gold coronation crown of kings (and queens) contains a large, tablet-cut ruby on which the figure of St. George’s cross is engraved. What very well could be the world’s largest gem ruby is tucked away in Czech – also in a royal crown. The 250 carater rocking ruby is set in the St Wenceslas Crown that is hidden behind lock and key in the St. Vitus Cathederal in Prague. According to the history books, Charles IV of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia (1316-78) originally ordered the ruby for the shrine containing the skull of Saint Wenceslas. It was later set in the crown.

Rubies are symbolic of courage and bravery. Warriors were said to have implanted the gems under their skin to bring them valor in battle and make them
invincible. The stone has also been used as a talisman against danger, disaster, to stop bleeding, and a number of other ailments. Its intense color was thought to come from an undying flame inside the stone – or, as some legends would have it, a piece of the planet Mars. In Burma it was believed that rubies grew somewhat like fruit. The redder the color, the riper the ruby. A flawed ruby was considered over mature.

The finest rubies are intensely saturated, pure red with no overtones of brown or blue. After color, the factors that influence value are clarity, cut and size. Rubies that are clear with no visible inclusions are more valuable than those with visible internal flaws.

Rubies are readily available in sizes up to 2 carats, and because of their intense color and durability, they make excellent accent stones. Larger sizes can be obtained, but top-quality rubies are rarer and more valuable than colorless diamonds – particularly in sizes above 5 carats.

A 15.97-carat ruby (known as the Mogok Ruby) belonging to U.S. geologist Allan Caplan was sold at auction in New York by Sotheby’s in 1988 for $3.63 million. At $227,300 per carat, this made it the most expensive ruby in the world. It was purchased by Graff of London, who reportedly sold it to the Sultan of Brunei as an engagement ring for one of his wives.

Fortunately you don’t have to be the Sultan of Brunei to own your own ruby fruit. Make sure your July is royally red-hot with a stunning ruby rock.

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