Ruby Jewelry

Ruby jewelry is said to provide health, happiness and wisdom for those who wear it. As the birthstone for July, ruby jewelry is a great gift for birthdays during that month. One historical piece of ruby jewelry includes the Crown Jewels of England, Edwardes Ruby, which weighs an impressive 167 carats. Specimens of that size are quite rare and are normally only found in museums. A 3-4 carat ruby, if of fine quality, is a rare and very expensive gem by today's standards. Rubies are considered the most valuable of all gemstones, except for extremely rare colored diamond varieties.

Interestingly, rubies belong to the group of mineral known as corundum. Corundum is available in a variety of colors, though only the red varieties are known as ruby. All other colors are called sapphire. The red color, from which it derives its name (Rubeus), is caused by trace amounts of the element chromium. The best shade of red for ruby jewelry is often given the name "pigeon blood red", but rubies can be any shade of red up to almost pink. High quality rubies may be referred to as Burma-ruby or Siam-ruby. A unique variety of ruby includes the Star Ruby. This gemstone has crystal inclusions of rutile that are oriented in such a way as to cause a six-rayed star effect, known as asterism. Often cabochon cut, these Star Rubies make beautiful ruby jewelry pieces.

The Moh's scale of hardness lists ruby, the variety of corundum, as a 9. While this is the second hardest mineral known to humankind, it should be noted that it is only 1/140th as hard as diamond, the hardest natural substance. Conversely, it is seven times as hard as Topaz, number 8 on the list. While ruby jewelry is an excellent choice because of its hardness and durability, care must be taken against direct blows, as these may break the almost always included gemstone. Because of its brittleness, care must be taken when ruby jewelry is worked on by a jeweler. It is safe to clean ruby jewelry by steam and ultrasonic cleaning.


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