Turquoise and onyx were the designated birthstones for July babies until 1912 when ruby took their place. Historically, rubies represented heat and power, but today the gem’s bright red color signifies love, passion and romance.
Rubies hold a place as one of only four stones considered precious, along with diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. They are also one of the hardest stones, only surpassed by diamonds and moissonite.
Sapphires and rubies are somewhat related. Both are formed from the mineral corundum, but rubies also have some chromium which gives the stone its red hue. Any corundum gem that has an absence of the chromium is called a sapphire.
The price you will pay for rubies depends primarily on the stone’s color, with the deepest red stones commanding the highest prices. Until recently, all corundum stones that had any amount of red in them were considered rubies, but that has changed. In the United States, these stones must have a certain saturation of red in them to be considered rubies. If they don’t meet the level, it is called a pink sapphire.
Cut and clarity will also impact the price, but this is one stone where you can expect imperfections. All rubies, unless they have been treated in some way, have rutile needle inclusions called “silk” running through them, although most mid- to low-end rubies are now heat treated before they are cut. Treating the stones with heat usually improves the silk and color of the stone, removing any purple tinge and blue patches.
When shopping for a ruby for your significant other, first look at the color of the stone. Remember, the deeper the red saturation, the more the gem will cost, so be sure to balance what you find pleasing to the eye with what you can afford. Rubies can be cut many different ways, except for star rubies which are always cut as cabochon. Clarity is also important, but not as much as the gemstone’s color.
Rubies make a wonderful anniversary gift for that special someone, or a Mother’s Day gift to commemorate your precious bundle. Alternate smaller diamonds and rubies in a heart-shaped necklace or tennis bracelet, or use two rubies to flank the stone on a diamond engagement ring. Complement the ring with a set of ruby stud earrings or three-stone drop earrings, or go for a ruby-studded journey necklace to show her how much you care.