Known as the “king of gems,” the ruby is the scarcest of all gemstones. Its presence symbolizes integrity, inspiration, and generosity. In ancient times, rubies were implanted under the skin of warriors to encourage valor and fearlessness. They were also rumored to have medicinal properties as well. According to legend, rubies were ground to a fine powder and placed under the tongue to stop bleeding, ensure good health, and bring peace.
Today, the ruby is known as a symbol of undying love and passion. The birthstone for the month of July, it is also the recommended gift for the 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries. Smaller on average than other gemstones, the ruby comes in sizes up to two karats. However, its tremendous aura often makes it appear much larger.
When selecting a ruby the most important variable to consider is color. The highest quality rubies are a pure red, without overtones of other hues. Rubies also come in a translucent variety, which may display a six-point star when cut.
Although rubies are found in a multitude of countries, the most valuable specimens originate in Myanmar. Other high quality rubies come from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Kenya. Because rubies are rarely pristine when mined, their color and clarity are often intensified through heat treatment. Some stones also have small fractures filled in with glass to improve their appearance. Whether treated or untreated, the best method for cleaning rubies is a brush and soapy water.