Sultry, elegant rubies are the main July birthstone. Fiery and elegant, the rich red of rubies has its own unique charm.
But, July’s an interesting one: there are two Zodiac signs that fall over this month of the year.
The Cancer and Leo signs share this month; some people associate these two different signs with a range of different gemstones.
In the Post
- July Birthstone Characteristics
- Where do These Highly Valuable Gems Come From?
- Ruby History: Where did This July Birthstone Get Its Name?
- Rubies in Action: Famous Ruby Stones
- What Meanings does the July Birthstone Carry?
- How Can I Wear My Birthstone?
- Are Rubies Normally Treated, or Totally Natural?
- Caring for Your July Birthstone Jewelry
The Cancer sign is linked to emeralds, pearls, moonstones and sapphires, while the Leo sign is associated with diamonds, onyx, sardonyx and tourmalines (some tourmalines are actually pink gems, so come closest to rubies in terms of color).
But, it’s the ruby that’s the main, most popular birthstone for July.
Let’s take a closer look at the history and features of these gemstones and advice for caring for your ruby jewelry, plus a quick look at some of the most famous rubies in the world…
July Birthstone Characteristics
Rubies are a type of gemstone that is really highly valued. Their rich, dark red color gives them a mysterious, intense elegance. Plus, they’re very rare.
As is the case with a lot of gemstones, the value of a ruby will increase depending on the quality of its shade of color.
The more intense and gorgeous the red tone, the higher the price tag attached.
The red ruby color
Gemstones that form naturally in the earth are made of mineral materials.
You may know that gemstones naturally come in a huge range of vibrant colors: even famously colorless diamonds can come in shades of green, blue, pink, yellow and even black and red!
Rubies can develop such a strong red shade because of the minerals in the earth where they form.
Rubies are one variety of the mineral known as corundum. Interestingly, all other gemstone varieties that are made of corundum are what we call sapphires.
That’s right: rubies are actually more closely related to gemstones of other, bluish colors than you might think!
This means that their red color is a clear defining characteristic of rubies. In fact, these gemstones actually get their eye-catching color from the mineral chromium.
Logically, the more chromium that is present where these gemstones form, the darker and deeper their eventual red color will be.
More about gems of other colors
Resistance and weakness
Rubies are also incredibly resistant gemstones: the only gem that’s harder than a ruby is a diamond, and diamonds are the hardest natural substance known to man.
However, the chromium that gives rubies their color also weakens them. The more chromium that’s present in these gems, the more likely they are to crack.
This is the reason why high quality ruby stones are so rare, and so expensive.
Not many of these gems are integrally strong enough to grow to high quality gemstones of any noticeable size, because of the cracks and fissures that can naturally form inside them.
So, when you come across a high quality ruby, you know it’s going to be worth a good bit of money.
Chromium is also the cause of one more key characteristic of these red gemstones, known as fluorescence.
Fluorescence is the technical term used to describe gemstones that appear to emit a glow from within their natural structures.
If you look at a high quality ruby, you might well notice a sort of fiery glow coming from within it.
This quality has reinforced the association of rubies with fire, love and passion over history.
Where do These Highly Valuable Gems Come From?
One of the most famous global ruby locations is Myanmar, as this region has consistently produced some of the highest quality rubies the world has ever seen.
The records experts have that show the discoveries of rubies in Myanmar are the oldest of them all, making this area the true home of fine rubies.
As time went on as we neared the end of the 1900s, rubies were also uncovered in areas of Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.
Mozambique is another area famed for the quality of the rubies that come out of its mines.
One mine in particular, the Montepuez mine, even produces some rubies that are close to the quality of the stones that come from Myanmar.
Other global regions that are key to the modern day ruby trade are Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, Pakistan and Afghanistan, to name just a few.
Just how valuable are these July birthstones?
Rubies are actually some of the most valuable gemstones of them all. In fact, the most expensive gemstone in the world – that isn’t a diamond – is actually a stunning ruby.
The Sunrise Ruby, as this famous stone is known, originally came from Myanmar. A couple years back in 2015, a buyer (who kept their identity concealed) bought the Sunrise Ruby at auction for the record price of $30.42 million.
As we’ve just seen, the color of a ruby has a large impact on the value of the gemstone.
In the gemstone trade, those in the know will be aware that pigeon’s blood is a great thing to look out for when we’re talking about rubies.
Sure, it might sound like a very strange term indeed, but pigeon’s blood is actually the technical name for the best of all the ruby color categories.
These gems really stand out from the rest of the ruby crowd and are sure to be a very expensive purchase.
Other ruby varieties tend to include more orange tones along with the main red color, or more brown shades.
While these stones are sure to still be very beautiful indeed, they aren’t nearly as highly valued as the purple and red pigeon’s blood rubies.
Ruby History: Where did This July Birthstone Get Its Name?
If we look into the origins of the modern day word ‘ruby’, we eventually find ourselves transported back to Ancient Roman times.
The modern English word we use today came from the Latin word rubeus, which literally meant ‘red’.
Even back in Ancient Roman civilization, the color red – and especially the dark, blood red shades that rubies can come in – was associated with love and passion.
Over time, the Latin word rubeus developed into ‘ruby’, which kept much of the same connotations and associations as its original source meaning.
Rubies in Action: Famous Ruby Stones
Over history, experts have created several famous pieces of jewelry using these highly valuable gemstones.
But some of the most famous rubies in the world simply speak for themselves…
The Sunrise Ruby Ring
We talked about the Sunrise Ruby – the most valuable gem in the world that isn’t a diamond – a little earlier on.
What we didn’t touch on before, though, is that this gorgeous gem has actually been set in a ring.
Placed between two exquisite diamonds, the Sunrise Ruby is really enhanced by these surrounding gems, making a truly beautiful – and almost priceless – piece of jewelry.
The Midnight Star Ruby
This ruby is another example of a highly valuable, purple-red stone.
Originally found in Sri Lanka, the Midnight Star Ruby is safely housed in the American Museum of Natural History, or AMNH.
This stone was stolen in a well-publicized heist that took place in the 1960s, but was eventually recovered from the thief.
The Rosser Reeves Ruby
This gorgeous gem stands out from the crowd for reasons apart from its highly alliterative name!
The Rosser Reeves Ruby is one of the most stunning rubies in the word.
The ruby’s final owner – a highly successful figure in the advertising business named Rosser Reeves – decided to donate the gemstone to an organization that would allow the wider public to appreciate its beauty.
So, for several decades this impressive ruby has been in the safe hands of the American Smithsonian Institution, which manages multiple museums and galleries.
The Liberty Bell Ruby
The Liberty Bell Ruby is the largest ruby ever mined and was discovered in the mid-20th century.
This ruby had around 50 smaller diamonds set in it and was carved into a replica of the Liberty Bell, a key representation of American independence that’s situated in Pennsylvania, USA.
Several years back, the Liberty Bell Ruby was also stolen in another high profile jewelry heist.
In 2014, several suspects were arrested in connection with the theft, but police were unable to recover this famous ruby.
What Meanings does the July Birthstone Carry?
With their fiery red tones, rubies perfectly encapsulate the searing hot days of summer when we soak up the sun’s rays.
Apart from this seasonal connection between the month of July and the color of these stones, rubies have a whole range of interesting historical meanings attached to them.
The following information combines ideas derived from historical Indian cultures and medieval European beliefs.
People used to believe – and some still do nowadays – that the ruby birthstone would bring its wearer:
- Good fortune
- Valiant outlook
- Success in war and battle
- Luck in love and passion
- Life force
- Wealth, riches and success
Some of these beliefs were developed from more ancient ideas about these dark red stones:
- The ability to warn of bad luck before it happened
- Letting people know about dangerous circumstances before they unknowingly walked into them
- Helping to cure diseases that had symptoms of inflammation
- Aiding people to avoid becoming too angry, and calming them if and when they did
How Can I Wear My Birthstone?
Rubies would be a beautiful addition to any jewelry collection of a person with a July birthday, but there are also other occasions when they’d be the perfect fit.
Rubies are also a traditional gift for celebrating 15 and 40 years of marriage.
Plus, if it was a July wedding that the couple chose, that would mean even more to them!
Are Rubies Normally Treated, or Totally Natural?
In the ruby trade, it’s quite normal to come across rubies that have been treated in one way or another to enhance their quality and appearance.
These treatments can get quite technical, so we’ll break down some of them for you here:
Quite a number of rubies that are out there on the market will have undergone some heat treatment.
Specialist heat treatment is designed to remove some of the purple color that might be present in a natural ruby, to give the gem a purer red tone.
Rubies are prized because of their stunning, dark red color. So, lower quality gemstones are sometimes dyed to enhance their shade of red.
Glass filling treatment
Some natural rubies with a lower quality rating might have cracks or fissures that reach right up to the surface of the gemstone.
Experts are able to fill these cracks and fissures with glass, working in the tiniest of detail to make sure these flaws aren’t as visible as they would be otherwise.
So, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking at before you make your purchase!
Clear labeling should let you know what synthetic treatments any gemstone has had, or the jeweler on hand should be able to let you know.
Caring for Your July Birthstone Jewelry
The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) recommends gently cleaning these July birthstones using warm water and soap, along with a soft brush.
That’s if we’re talking natural rubies, though.
If you know your jewelry is set with rubies that have been treated in some way, then different advice might apply for keeping it looking just as good as new.
If you know your stone has had some cracks filled with glass to enhance its overall appearance, just use a damp cloth to clean the gem.
The same applies if your ruby has been dyed to reinforce its striking red color. Again, just use a damp cloth to gently clean the stone.