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July's Birthstone: Ruby

Rubies are essentially red sapphires as they are part of the corundum family. Their value increases immensely with size, as they are much harder to find than a large diamond or sapphire. There are few places where rubies are found, and the source for the finest and most rare rubies—known as “pigeon’s blood”—is in the Mogok valley of Upper Burma. They can also be found in Thailand, though those stones are more dark and brownish-red in color.

The ruby has vast significance in the pasts of many cultures, most of them regarding it for the brilliant light that was cast from the stone. Various other ancient cultures believed that sapphires were just “unripe” rubies and, if buried deep into the earth, it would become a ruby. They were also thought to do everything from stopping bleeding to warn the owner of misfortunes. It has been said that the first wife of King Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon, predicted her downfall by the darkening of her ruby.

Since large rubies are so rare, there are very few that have been recorded in history. In fact, some that had been previously reported as rubies were proven otherwise; the Timur ruby given as a gift to Queen Victoria was later found to be a ruby spinel.

Pictured above are pear-shaped, cabochon, and marquise-shaped rubies of various shades of red.