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Rubies

The power of beauty and wisdom
Rubies have long been associated with the power of beauty and wisdom, and are a corundum mineral that’s blood red to pink in colour. They are also the birthstone for July and the traditional gift for 40th wedding anniversaries.

First discovered in India around 2000 years ago, rubies have a vivid blood-red shade that can also be orange-y, purple or pink in tone, and have a far deeper colour intensity than other gemstones because of their ability to reflect light, enabled by the presence of chromium atoms which create a vibrant near glow. Historically, rubies are most commonly found in Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia, as well as Mozambique, Madagascar and Australia, with Greenland being a relatively new source of deposits.

Hindus regarded rubies as the most prestigious gem, the sanskrit word translates as ‘king of precious stones’ and by the Medieval period rubies were used by European royalty and nobility as a sign of wealth and protection.

Fun fact: Scientifically speaking, rubies and sapphires are composed of the same mineral named corundum, but they’re each formed with the presence of different chemical deposits within the crystal which results in their bold colour contrast.

Ruby Grading

Rubies are graded by their colour, as well as cut and clarity, with the finest classification rated as R6/6 meaning the stone is a deep-toned red with the most vivid saturation. Rubies are transparent to translucent and vitreous (or glass-like) on the surface, they also display pleochroism, meaning they absorb light at different wavelengths and can appear altered in colour when rotated to another angle.

Ruby Hardness

Rubies measure a 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness – diamonds measure 10 – and they have no cleavage, aka the term for an area in the mineral bond structure which is naturally weaker and vulnerable to breakages when struck, similar to the grain of wood for a clean cut. While they’re not immune to breakages and can be chipped on impact, overall, most jewellery settings can be used for rubies without too much risk. They can be cut to pretty much any shape but are most commonly in emerald, round and cabochon cuts and are particularly well offset when paired with diamonds.

Ruby Care

The rule for cleaning your ruby jewellery is to keep it simple. Avoid abrasive products or sonic cleaning devices, as you really can do some irreparable damage to your design. Instead, clean away any dullness or residue with setting with a warm (not hot) and soapy water bath, using a very soft-bristled brush to gently wipe away any dirt if necessary, then let it air dry.