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July birthstone

Learn more about the fiery red ruby, the July birthstone!
Cluster of rubies_hero
Snow White

The idea of a different gemstone representing each month of the year dates back to Biblical times. The Jewish historian Josephus made a record of Aaron from the Book of Exodus wearing a breastplate decorated by twelve stones all the way back in the first century. If you've noticed a pattern, it's that exploring the history surrounding each month's birthstone is part of a series for us, and last but not least is the beautiful red ruby stone of July! 

When I think of ruby red, the image that almost always comes to mind is that of Snow White and the contrast of her ruby red lips against snowy milk-white skin. The purity of the white suggests innocence, but her ruby-red lips imply passion. 

Now, as I'm writing about the ruby, a precious gem and the July birthstone, I see a parallel between Snow White and this stunning stone: a pure ruby is recognizable for its vibrant blood-red color and throughout history, has been worn as a symbol of love and passion. Much like Snow White's ruby red lips touching her prince's lips ultimately gave her success in life, so too did others find their own success by donning the ruby.

Three rubies in a row
Ruby fire
Ruby crystal
Ring of Fire

If you haven't guessed it yet, the magic of this stone is in its color. While the sapphire shares its origin with the ruby from the mineral corundrum family, what sets the ruby apart is its lustrous red color, gifted to it by the element chromium. Chromium might be what gives ruby its stunning color, but ironically, it's also what makes it so rare on the market: chromium can cause cracks and fissures, meaning few rubies nowadays develop into full gems.

Speaking of chromium, this element also causes fluorescence, which is why you may notice a glowing, ember-like effect within the stone. Because a ruby isn't a true ruby without a fire "burning" within: just consult Ancient Hindu folklore. The Hindu believed this alleged glowing fire within rubies was so hot that it could actually boil water. And they were not alone: the Greeks spun tales of the warmth of rubies being able to melt wax!

As you can see, the ruby is truly a fiery little gem!

Ruby heirloom
Rubies in history

Burma's Mogok Valley historically produced the finest ruby material - since at least 600 AD - and while Burmese mines were eventually depleted, Myanmar still remains a significant source of ruby production. In the 90s, the Mong Hsu region of Myanmar discovered that heat treatment improved the color saturation of rubies. As such, heat treating rubies is a common practice nowadays. Other ruby deposits can be found in Vietnam, Thailand, India, parts of the Middle East, and East Africa.  

While traditionally popularized by its deep-red color, the stone's appeal is, in fact, far greater. Throughout history, the ruby has served as a symbol of passion, protection, and prosperity, particularly in Asian countries.

Legend suggests that China's North Silk Road was a popular trading spot for rubies as early as 200 B.C.

Warriors from Burma's Mogok Valley, famous for their Burmese Rubies, believed that rubies made them invincible. Similarly, Chinese noblemen adorned their armor with rubies during battle as a testament to its powers of protection.

In Ancient Hindu folklore, rubies were offered to the god Krishna in an effort to grant rebirth as emperors to its bearers.

Laser Focus

Remember those legends about the fluorescence from chromium being hot enough to melt wax and boil water? Well, it turns out, ancient folklore wasn't so far off base. In the 1960s, scientists used the red fluorescence of the ruby to help build the first working laser! Since then, rubies are still used to make lasers, as well as watches and medical instruments.

In addition to acting as a guardian stone, rubies are offered to new couples as a precious wedding gem. Because of its association to the life force and vitality of blood, it is believed to amplify energy, height awareness, and promote courage. It may hang from a chain around your neck or be embedded in the stone of a ring instead of a piece of armor, but it still holds the same power it did all those centuries ago!

Laser ruby
Antique watch
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