July’s birthstone is the ruby. Its name comes from the Latin word ruber meaning red. But its name in Sanskrit reveals more of its mysterious power and value: ratnaraj, the ruler of jewels. Prized for its distinct beauty and believed protective qualities, it is also thought to increase motivation and connect one with their passion for life. Discover what makes this gemstone so rare as well as the history and folklore surrounding it. Read on!
How are they formed?
Rubies are made of the mineral corundum, which is composed of densely packed oxygen, aluminum atoms, and chromium. (Chromium is what makes them red.) When these chemicals combine under extreme pressure, they are formed.
Why so rare?
When the common elements of iron and silica are present, rubies cannot be formed. This is why they so rare.
Where were they discovered?
They are believed to have been first discovered during the Stone Age in the Mogok region of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), India. Since their discovery in India, Hindus valued them as the most important gemstone—greater than diamonds.
Do ruby gemstones come in different shades?
Red ruby stones come in various shades that may be found all around the world. Shades range from pink to orange and deep red color. The most sought after ones have a purple hue known as “Pigeon blood” (not to be confused with spinel).
Natural ones commonly have imperfections called rutile (or silk). Rutile are varieties of the mineral that look like needles embedded within the stone. It is one of the first characteristics one might look for when distinguishing natural rubies from lab-created ones, as this only occurs naturally.
A Bizarre Classification System
Rubies were known as ratnaraj in Sanskrit, which translates to the ruler of jewels.
Hindus created a caste system for this red stone. Those of lower quality were not allowed to be in the presence of higher quality stones. The top of the caste was called Brahmin. Anyone who possessed a Brahmin was believed to live in perfect safety. The Hindus also believed if they offered the precious gemstone to God Krishna, they would be granted rebirth as an emperor.
Protection For Warriors As “The Blood Of Earth”
Many cultures in the East believed the ruby to be the blood of the Earth which held the power of life. They associated the gemstone with vigor, passion, abundance, and protection. Due to the protection that rubies were believed to inspire, they would be inserted into the flesh of warriors for protection in battle.
There is much folklore of them being placed or worn on the left side of the body to inspire protection, wealth, wisdom, and success. This thought of protection carried on into the 14th century. In 1365, Sir John Mandeville wrote of a man who touched the four corners of his land with his ruby to protect his property.
An Eternal Flame Inside
There are others who believed this dazzling stone was created by fire. Due to their inner glow, they were believed to hold an eternal flame. Ancient Greeks would even put rubies in water to make the water boil. (By the way, do you know the best time to boil water when cooking vegetables? Find out.)
Believed To Be Created By God
They are mentioned in the Bible as one of the 12 stones created by God.
A Disaster Forecaster?
There are some who believe rubies can foretell disasters. To this day, people believe their ruby will change color or appear duller prior to a disaster to warn the wearer. It is believed the stone returns to its original color when the wearer is no longer in danger.
Ruby’s Metaphysical Properties
Rubies are thought to hold some amazing properties. They have long been believed to:
- Protect the wearer as well as the the wearer’s household.
- Brings wealth, passion, and longevity.
- Energize and stimulate motivation.
- Inspire a healthy passion for life.
- Connect the wearer with love and compassion by opening the heart chakra.
- Increase concentration, courage, and a positive state of mind.
- In India, an ancient Vedic text describes how rubies were placed at the center of Navaratna (meaning nine gems) jewelry to promote one’s alignment with universal energy.
Famous Rubies In History
Rubies have a long, rich history which is still alive and well today!
The Rarest In The World
The Prince of Burma Ruby is one of the rarest in the world. Weighing more than 950 carats, it was found at the Dattaw-Mine in Mogok, Myanmar in 1996. What makes this stone ultra unique is its pigeon blood color and the fact that it was not exposed to heat during its creation.
Stolen In A Heist!
One with a very interesting past is the DeLong Star Ruby. It was discovered in Burma in the 1930s. This oval shaped, 100 carat gem was donated to the American Museum of Natural History by Edith Delong. This is where things get interesting. In 1964, it was stolen during an elaborate gem heist that included two dozen rare gemstones. A ransom was paid, and the stone was returned in 1965.
The Most Expensive Ever Bought
When looking for a famous ruby, one cannot ignore The Sunrise Ruby. This Burmese gem holds the title for the most expensive precious stone (besides a diamond) ever purchased. Weighing 5.118 grams, it is a whooping 25.59 carats. In 2015, it sold at the Geneva Auction for over $30 million dollars! Its name was inspired by the 13th Century poet, Rumi:
The Sunrise Ruby
In the early morning hour,
just before dawn, lover and beloved wake
and take a drink of water.
She asks, “Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth.”
He says, “There is nothing left of me.
I’m like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world
made of redness? It has no resistance
This is how Hallaj said, I am God,
and told the truth!
The ruby and the sunrise are one.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.
Completely become hearing and ear,
and wear this sun-ruby as an earring.
Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.
Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.-Rumi
Alternative Birthstones for July
There are affordable, natural forms of ruby birthstone jewelry (see below) as well as alternative options to precious stones to celebrate July:
Like ruby, citrine is associated with abundance and manifestation of one’s desires. Citrine is also believed to release fear.
Another stone to consider is garnet, which is traditionally recognized as January’s birthstone. In India, garnet was believed to have a similar vibration to the ruby. Garnet is abundantly available and reasonably priced.
Rubies are said to inspire motivation and help connect one with their passions in life. They are also believed to bring courage and encourage a positive state of mind!
Get this for someone who could use a lift in their spirits!
Join The Discussion!
Were you born in the month of July? Had you ever heard of the connection between rubies and warrior protection?
Do you believe that rubies have the power to protect?
Have you ever seen one in person?
Let us know in the comments below!
Tamra Albright-Johnson specializes in the unique histories and folklore around rare stones. She owns and operates a custom jewelry shop with her daughter, Kennie, in Iowa.