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Fun Facts About Rubies

Rubies are well known for their vivid red color. Let’s learn about the July birthstone. Here are some fun facts about rubies.

What is a ruby? Why are rubies red?

Ruby gemstones are a variety of the mineral corundum. More specifically, they are the red variety, which is colored by chromium. Other colors of corundum are classified as sapphire.

The word “ruby” comes from the Latin word “ruber” for the red hue. All rubies are red, yet they can have orange, pink or purple tints.

How are rubies made?

Like many gemstones, rubies are made under extreme heat and pressure below the earth. When compressed, oxygen and aluminum atoms turn into corundum. This mineral, along with the presence of chromium, creates rubies and their distinct hue. If ferric iron is also present, the ruby will be a shade of orange or pink.

Where are rubies found in the world? Where are rubies mined?

The finest rubies come from Burma (Myanmar). They are also mined in Afghanistan, Australia, Cambodia, India, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.

How hard are rubies?

Ruby gemstones measure 9 on the Mohs scale. They are tough and durable, yet the chromium can cause cracks and fissures. Few rubies grow large enough to crystallize into fine quality gems—the value of these pieces can be even higher than diamonds.

One of the surprising facts about rubies is that their hardness comes in second place to diamonds. The diamond is the only natural gemstone harder than a ruby.

How rare are rubies?

Rubies are one of the rarest gemstones. The rarest rubies come from Burma (Myanmar), due to their high quality and exceptional color. Good quality rubies larger than one carat are also extremely rare—and expensive.

What are rubies used for?

The most common use for rubies is jewelry—stunning jewelry! However, both natural and synthetic rubies are used in a variety of applications—such as watchmaking, medical instruments, and lasers—because of their incredible strength and red fluorescence.

How big is the largest ruby?

The current titleholder of the largest ruby is the 125West Ruby. This unpolished rough-cut gemstone weighs 8.2 pounds/18,696 carats. The Liberty Bell Ruby is the largest mined ruby at 8,500 carats. It was carved and polished to resemble the actual Liberty Bell.

Other large rubies include the Neelanjali Ruby (1,370 carats); DeLong Star Ruby (100.32 carats); and the Midnight Star Ruby (116.75 carats). 

What does a ruby symbolize?

Since ancient times, rubies have symbolized passion, protection, and wealth. Many cultures have strong ties to it being a symbol of love and commitment, making it a great gemstone for a wedding ring.

In modern times, ruby is the birthstone for July. It’s also the traditional gift for 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries.

mozambique ruby earrings

Where do you buy ruby jewelry?

When it comes to buying ruby jewelry, no matter the occasion, you want to work with a trusted source. Find an American Gem Society jeweler near you.