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The traditional birthstone for the month of July, Rubies have phenomenal name recognition.
In the United States rubies are probably the most popular and sought after member of the “Big Three.” (In the jewelry world the “Big Three” refer to the ever popular trio of Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald.)
Nevertheless, while nearly everyone knows the name of a Ruby (and many women and men want rubies) most people are shocked when they learn a few basic facts about rubies.
Rubies are Sturdy.
The precious price of many rubies has convinced generations of women that a ruby is inherently fragile and needs special care. In fact, one of the reasons rubies have traditionally been treasured is because they are amazingly sturdy. A fine –and even a not-so-fine– ruby can withstand daily wear for decades or centuries. (Fun fact… Thousands of years ago in India ruby was considered the gem of warriors and often inlaid in armor. Perhaps that explains the ongoing popularity of rubies in men’s school rings.)
Rubies are Sapphires.
If you feel confused you have the right to be. Sapphires are blue. (And actually a bunch of other colors. If you are interested in Sapphires we have a whole blog post about alternative Sapphire colors.) Rubies are red. However, both sapphires and rubies are Corundum. They are part of the same family in much the same way both Citrine (a yellow form of Quartz) and Amethyst (a purple form of Quartz) are part of the same family. Within the trade there is always a bit of a debate about how red a red sapphire technically has to be to be called a “Ruby” instead of merely a pink Sapphire. So… if you like the idea of a Ruby, but you are only shown very dark stones at a jewelry store –and you prefer something a little lighter or brighter– feel free to ask for a “pink sapphire.”
- Rubies are Rare. Not exactly. Good rubies –with ideal red color and perfect transparency and relatively few inclusions– are rare. Natural red corundum is not that rare. In other words there are a lot of rubies that are not quite perfect. That doesn’t mean they aren’t pretty, or they aren’t goo. But perfection is rare in the natural world so a “perfect” natural ruby demands a premium that a less than perfect natural ruby does not.