The fiery king of gems: Romantic rubies

The fiery king of gems: Romantic rubies

Red is often considered the colour of love, so what’s more romantic than a ruby? This red-hued stone has been a favourite of royalty for centuries, earning the moniker ‘king of gems’.

Rubies make up one of the four main precious gemstones, joining emerald, sapphire and diamond. The word comes from the Latin “rubens”, meaning red. The stone is made up of corundum, a crystalline form of aluminium oxide containing traces of iron, titanium, vanadium and chromium. Technically, rubies and sapphires are the same stone as they are made up of the same chemical properties. However, a stone of this makeup in any colour besides red is considered a sapphire. The mineral chromium is what gives the stone its characteristic red tinge, differentiating it into a ruby.

Given its deep red colouring, rubies are often associated with love and desire. The stone can range in shades from pink to oxblood. The most desirable shade is called ‘pigeon-blood’, a deep red with a hint of blue.

Rubies are found all over the world, from Myanmar (previously Burma), Africa, Australia to the USA. This precious gemstone has long been highly revered by Asian cultures. The first ruby was discovered in Myanmar back in 600AD and were worn as talismans by Burmese soldiers in battle as a form of protection. In Sankrit, rubies are called ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones”.

Popularity soon spread to Europe and rubies became one of the most sought-after gems for European royalty and the upper class after it was selected as the stone of choice for British coronation rings back in the 13th century. The stone was said to guarantee health, wealth, wisdom and success in love.

As with other gemstones, rubies are graded on the four C’s: colour, cut, clarity and carat weight. The world’s most valuable ruby is the Sunrise Ruby, a 25.59-carat (5.1 g) “pigeon blood” ruby discovered in Myanmar. The stone was mounted by Cartier and set between heptagonal diamonds weighing 2.47 carats (0.49 g) and 2.70 carats. It sold for a record $30.42 million on May 12, 2015 at a Sotheby’s auction in Geneva, Switzerland to an anonymous buyer.

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