I hope you've had a wonderful birthday month, July-babies! Your birthstone is Ruby.
In the gem industry, we often refer to "The Big Three". These three important stones are: Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. They earned this title due to their popularity, beautiful color, and historical significance. Of all of The Big Three, Ruby is the most significant, and you get to call this special gem your birthstone:)
Ruby is the red variety of the gem species Corundum (the same species that sapphire comes from), and it gets its striking hue from the trace element, Chromium. Fine quality Ruby is very rare, and the color of the stone is the most important quality when assessing the gem's value. If the stone is too light, too dark, too orange, or too pink it would be known as a fancy colored sapphire instead of a ruby. And though fancy sapphires are precious, they are much less valuable than a ruby. When I was completing my gem identification classes at GIA, one of the most challenging calls to make was when distinguishing the subtle differences between a dark pink sapphire and ruby.
Ruby has excellent hardness- ranking at a 9 on the moh's hardness scale. Natural ruby typically has some inclusions within the stone. The interior of the stone is the easiest way to separate naturals from synthetics. Many rubies have rutile inclusions that are referred to as "silk" in the industry. Seeing unbroken silk in a Ruby is a good sign that not only is the stone natural, but that it also has not undergone heat treatment. Sometimes the rutile needle inclusions can create a phenomenon called asterism. Rubies with asterism are called "Star Rubies" because of a six-rayed star that moves over the surface of the stone.
I was thrilled to find three beautiful star rubies this week at a gem and lapidary show in North Carolina. I'm very eager to take them back to my studio in Charleston to work with!
Historically, people have believed Ruby stones to bestow good fortune, health, and love to the wearer. Many even believed the stone to be an aphrodisiac! In Burma (now Myanmar), ancient warriors believed that rubies would protect them in battle. Instead of just adorning themselves with the stones for protection, they would actually insert them under the skin.
Burma has a long association with Rubies. It was one of the earliest source of Rubies and produced some of the finest quality stones on the market. In the trade, these stones are often referred to as "Pigeon's blood" rubies due to the intense, deep red color with a hint of blue. Today many Rubies come from India, Thailand, Madagascar, and Vietnam.
This stone is truly special, and I'm so excited to be working on some new pieces that showcase it's gorgeous color. Be on the lookout for some gorgeous and affordable dyed ruby pieces coming to my semi-precious line soon and some precious-quality ruby styles coming to the fine jewelry line!
Again, happy July to everyone and happy birthday to all those who celebrated this month!