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Stone Of The Month - July - Ruby

July's entry in this series of stones of the month features the spectacular Ruby.


The ruby aptly received its name by being red by definition. The name is derived from the Latin word 'Ruber', meaning red if you had not already guessed. Rubies find themselves from the Corundum family of minerals, sharing it with another big player on the stone stage, the sapphire. Whilst rubies are indeed red, they do appear in many different tones and hues, with some obviously being far more desirable. The common ruby will feature a brownish hue due to the content of iron, whereas the fine red tones are from minute traces of chromium. The rarest and most desirable colour of ruby is called 'pigeons' blood', where the ruby would be of pure red, with hints of blue. These stones were initially found exclusively in Magok, Burma. Due to constant political strife, production was unpredictable and irregular, and so very little of these rubies are ever exported to the rest of the world. However, more of these coloured rubies were discovered in Kenya, and so the likelihood is that they exist in other places too.

Rubies can be found in a few other places across the world, including Sri Lanka, Thailand, Afghanistan, India and Africa. These stones wont all be of exceptional worth though, as only the clearest, largest and most pure red of rubies find themselves earning the attribute of very rare and valuable. Most rubies are not perfect stones, and often the colour is unevenly distributed, with parallel lines of rutile needles producing lines of soft white light. This provides the unusual side effect, that if the stone is polished, a star effect can be seen. Due to the nature of rubies commonly possessing less than desirable traits, heat treating has been a skillful practice used for many centuries. This is an accepted practice within the industry, as it allows the ruby to show off its true finer colour permanently, without adding anything artificial or damaging the stone. There are many more drastic methods of altering the appearance and price of poorer quality stones, including filling cavities with glass and chemically inducing colour, all of which are frowned upon.

Sitting just below the diamond on the mohs scale of mineral hardness, the ruby is at 9. This makes ruby an incredibly hardy stone, though due to the nature of it, it should still be protected from scratches and abrasives, especially by other stones. The fine red colour allows rubies to be placed with equal beauty within white or yellow settings, and has found itself to be very popular as the leading choice of gem if you are after something red.

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