Symbolic of passion, protection and prosperity, ruby gemstones have been revered since ancient times.
Rubies have been particularly prized in Asian countries.
Records suggest that rubies were traded along China’s North
Silk Road as early as 200 B.C. Chinese noblemen adorned
their armor with rubies because they believed the gem would
grant protection. They also buried rubies beneath building
foundations to secure good fortune.
Ancient Hindus believed they’d be reborn as emperors if they
offered rubies to the god Krishna. In Hindu folklore, the
glowing fire within rubies burned so hot that they allegedly
boiled water. Greek legends similarly claimed that ruby’s
warmth could melt wax.
In Burma, a significant ruby source since at least 600
AD—warriors believed that rubies made them invincible. They
even implanted rubies into their skin to grant protection in
battle. Burmese rubies are still some of the most prized of all ruby gems.
Many cultures also admired ruby as a symbol of love and
passion. Rubies have long been considered the perfect
Though ruby has a long history, it wasn’t recognized as a
variety of corundum until 1800. Prior to that, red spinel,
tourmaline, and garnet were also believed to be ruby. Even
the Black Ruby, one of the famed crown jewels of England,
was considered one of the largest cut rubies until
determined to be spinel.
Imitation ruby dates back as far as Roman times, though it
wasn’t synthesized until the early 1900s.
The red fluorescence power of ruby helped build the first
working laser in 1960. Rubies—both natural and synthetic—are
still used to make lasers, as well as watches and medical
After classical Burmese mines depleted, the Mong Hsu region
of Myanmar started producing rubies in the 1990s. Though
these lacked the rich red hue of traditional Burmese Rubies,
they were treated with heat to improve saturation and
transparency. Heat treated rubies is a common practice