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Sell With a Story: Rubies

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Read more about July's birthstone and its deep history and hue

Who can resist the luscious red of Rubies? Their vibrant color commands attention and garners more than a lingering look. Those with July birthdays have every reason to celebrate their special gemstone. And since it is the “King of Precious Gems,” Ruby enjoys a passionate following from many devotees.

SWAS Rubies Group Gemstones

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Love, Courage, and Devotion

This sounds like a recipe for a great marriage, yet ruby symbolizes all this and much more.

Through history, Ruby has embodied all of life’s intensity: power, passion, and love. Kings, princes, and the wealthy sought rubies for their exquisite beauty, rarity, and prestige. In medieval times, many Rubies were not set in jewelry but simply admired for their intoxicating shade.

Ruby was the very essence of wifely devotion, a fire burning within enduring challenges and temptation. It also had the power to warn its owner against danger — perhaps someone was trying to steal the Ruby!

Ancient warriors implanted Ruby beneath their skin believing it imparted both courage and invincibility. Not a bad combination to have on the battlefield. Others thought it bestowed perfect safety, cured diseases of the blood, and denoted both integrity and generosity.

Wow! That was a lot of responsibility, even for the King of Precious Gems.

Today, we’ve toned down our Ruby expectations. It symbolizes love, romance, and — especially recently — appears as a center stone in engagements like those featured here.

Peak Hue

Ruby was first mined about 3000 BCE in the ancient Burmese region around Mogok. There, the finest Ruby was described as having the color of pigeon’s blood. This is a vibrant medium red with secondary purple hues— and those purple hues are very important. The Burmese set Ruby in pure gold because of its intense yellow color. This canceled out the blue in the purple undertones and produced that most rare occurrence: a visually pure red.

To this day, the “pigeon’s blood” remains the most valuable Ruby color. So much so that large, transparent Rubies command higher prices per carat than diamonds of the same weight. Read on.

Sunrise Ruby

Named after a poem by Rumi, a 13thcentury Sufi poet, the Pigeon Blood Burmese Sunrise Ruby is an extremely rare 25.596-carat gem of the finest purity. In May 2015, it set an astounding record for a colored gemstone, selling for $30 million USD to an anonymous buyer. This price was three times the previous record for a Ruby and is the most expensive one sold to date.

SWAS Rubies Gemstones Shot Caliper

Savvy Marketing?

Ruby and Sapphire are both corundum. Color separates them with Ruby’s hue resulting from trace elements of chromium. In fact, the more chromium, the deeper the shade. Historically, Ruby included all shades of red from light rose — a pink — to the blood red. The lighter hues were once termed Female Rubies while the darker were Male Rubies.

Today in Asia, these lighter reds are still considered rubies. In North America and Europe, these light Rubies are called Pink Sapphire. The change is fairly recent happening the late 19th to the early 20th century. Here’s why: a vibrant medium-red Ruby is the preferred and most valuable color. This color made the lighter Rubies less valuable. But these lighter Rubies, however, are very beautiful and deserve their share of value. So, by creating Pink Sapphire, there was no need to compare it to Ruby. Pink Sapphire has its own category and its own standards. That sounds like savvy marketing to me!

Rubies Hate to Lose Weight

Actually, it’s not the precious gemstone that resists weight loss. It’s a simple fact that larger Rubies are rare, so gem cutters are on a mission to preserve weight. The result is an amazing array of scientific and artistic techniques that remove as little weight as possible while cutting it strategically to maximize the color and sparkle.

SWAS Rubies Gemstones Beauty Shot

Did you know?

Because of Ruby’s crystal structure, oval and cushion cuts show it to greatest advantage. But Rubies are beautiful in many other shapes. In addition to oval and cushion, our Stuller Gemstones™ feature round, antique square, emerald, pear, marquise and heart-shaped Rubies. In other words, you have wonderful choices.

Ruby Sources

Rubies were originally found in the country we now call Myanmar, and it remains a major source of the precious stone. Rubies are also mined in other Asian and African locations, including Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and Mozambique.

How popular are Rubies in your store? Do you have a special sales technique for Rubies? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


Elizabeth Raffel

I've been with Stuller since 2013 • Primarily read books on physics and other sciences • Was blown away by 'Breaking Bad' • I believe no woman can have too many boots or too much jewelry • Been writing professionally longer than I care to admit • Studied tailoring after college.