One of the most sought-after gemstones in the world is the ruby, which also happens to be the July birthstone. Even though rubies date back some 50 million years, one of their most notable moments in modern times was when they were used to bejewel the famed ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the classic musical film The Wizard of Oz.
As for its illustrious and lengthy history, the ruby has been coveted by civilizations for millions of years. Second only to the diamond, rubies are known for their hardness as well as their rarity. Their rich red hues have long been associated with one of human beings’ most vital biological attributes, blood. Many mystics fabled that those who wore rubies could ward off danger, bring good fortune and wisdom, and even cure diseases to bring about wellness and health.
If you have long wondered how rubies are created, their origin, or what gives them that unmistakable crimson coloring, search no further. Here is everything you need to know about the beloved ruby, July’s birthstone.
All You Need to Know About Rubies
If your birth month is July, you’ve been blessed with the ruby as your birthstone. So much is known about this alluring gemstone, but few people take the time to delve deeper into this bewitching and rare rock.
July Birthstone Meaning & Symbolism - For centuries, the majesty of the ruby has captivated its onlookers. During Medieval times in Europe, it was said that rubies brought health, wealth, and wisdom to aristocrats that were typically the sole owners of ruby-studded jewelry. It held significance on the battlefield as well. Burmese warriors that were fortunate enough to bare them in battle claimed that it made them invincible. The ruby was hailed as the ‘king of precious stones’ in ancient India. It was widely believed that rubies held magical powers and would bring prosperity and success to anyone that possessed them.
Where Are Rubies Found - The oldest recorded ruby deposits were found in Burma, now known as Myanmar. The Mogok region of Myanmar has been host to these legendary ruby mines for more than five centuries. Found beneath Buddhist temples, these vast formations of weathered marble seemed to create the idyllic sedimentary conditions for some of the world’s most sought-after and rare rubies. While Burma may be home to some of the oldest ruby mines, they aren’t just found in this one part of the world.
Africa is a treasure trove to all sorts of gemstones and they are also home to the everlasting ruby. If quality is your main focus, the closest you’ll get to the rare rubies of Mogok exist in the African nation of Mozambique. The mines of Montepuez churn out rubies that have the same depth of color as those found in Burma.
Aside from Burma and Mozambique, from the late 1900s on, ruby deposits have been located along the border of Thailand and Cambodia. And while they have more imperfections and lack a certain richness in color, the July birthstone can also be found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of Kenya and Tanzania.
How Rubies Are Formed - Considered the most valuable gemstone on the planet due to its rarity, rubies require the presence of a very rare mineral to get their unique coloring. This special mineral is corundum. Corundum is comprised of densely packed aluminum and oxygen atoms. If there is an absence of aluminum or there is another element present in the sediment, it can significantly change the color of the gemstone.
A lesser-known fact about rubies is that they are technically sapphires. Sapphires are also formed by the same mineral corundum. The only difference is that sapphires contain traces of iron and titanium which are not present in rubies. When the pocket of corundum turns red it will create a ruby, and when the corundum deposit is blue, it creates a sapphire.
Ruby Jewelry Care & Cleaning - If you are lucky enough to be the owner of ruby jewelry or a single ruby gemstone, you’ll want to care for it properly. Rubies are especially hard and rank high on the Mohs scale, right up there with diamonds. That doesn’t mean they are indestructible though. Blunt impact and rough treatment may fracture or chip your ruby. Avoid hands-on work while wearing ruby rings or ruby pendants.
If you want to keep your July birthstone gleaming and sparkling red, here are some things you may want to consider when cleaning your ruby jewelry:
- Always remember to put on makeup, perfumes, and any skincare products BEFORE putting on your ruby jewelry.
- As with most precious stones, it is recommended that you steer clear of harsh cleaning agents and chemicals. Instead, wash your ruby rings and necklaces in warm water with mild dish soap.
- You can scrub your ruby jewelry with a soft bristle toothbrush.
- As far as storage goes, keep your rubies away from softer gemstones. Due to the durable nature of rubies, they may unintentionally scratch or chip other pieces in your jewelry box.