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Ruby Second Hardest Mineral after Diamond

princess cut ruby gemstone

Perfect Rubies are Extremely Rare

Ruby is red corundum the hardest mineral on Earth after diamond.  From a geological perspective sapphire is almost exactly the same stone. The most significant difference is colour.

Impurities of chromium are the primary cause of colour in this highly sought after gemstone.

Only red corundum is ruby, all other colours are sapphire.

The similarity between rubies and sapphires has only been fully understood since the beginning of the 19th century.  Until then red garnets and spinels were also believed to be rubies.

The Black Prince's Ruby and Timur Ruby both incorrectly identified as rubies were later found to be spinels.

The word 'ruby' comes from the Latin word 'ruber' meaning 'red'.

Colour is the most important factor for determining value.  The finest grade gemstones command extraordinary prices.

Almost all rubies have minor imperfections or anomalies.  Millions of years ago whilst growing deep within the core of the earth, the chromium responsible for the stone's colour also caused fissures and cracks within the crystal.  Hardly any were given the right conditions to grow undisturbed in order to crystallize to perfection.

An important mining area for rubies during the 1990's was a small town in north east Myanmar (formerly Burma).  The first stones to be discovered were not classified as gem grade.  This was because they displayed two colours, a purple to black core and bright red periphery.

It was some time before it was discovered the shade of red could be deepened by the heating the stone.  This increased the value dramatically.

Ruby can be found in a number of locations worldwide.  About 90% are heat treated to enhance or change the colour.

It's usually the rough stone that's heated before cutting begins.  An unheated ruby is considered to be extremely unusual.

Ruby is believed to have been the first stone in the first row of the high priest breastplate.  This religious garment was worn during biblical times by the first Jewish high priest.   

Ruby which grades 9 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness is the birthstone for the month of July.  On the traditional birthstone chart onyx is used as an alternative.

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