by Darlene Zagata
The ruby is one of the most valued gems in the world. Ancient Asian cultures called rubies "Ratnaraj", which is Sanskrit for "King of Gemstones". The ruby is a gem with a rich color and brilliance befitting royalty. One of the July birthstones, rubies are popular with jewelry lovers of all ages, and ruby jewelry can be worn with everything from elegant eveningwear to jeans.
Features: Rubies are a variety of corundum, which is one of the hardest minerals on Earth. It measures 9 out of 10 on the Mohs' Scale of Hardness, making it more durable than most gemstones. This July birthstone is considered one of the four precious gemstones, and is sometimes more valuable and more expensive than diamonds. Ruby jewelry is available in a wide range of prices and comes in many different styles, including gorgeous ruby rings, pendants and earrings.
Color: When you think of a ruby, you most likely picture a deep red shade, but rubies are also available in pink and purple hues. Ruby gems with a rich red color are the most popular, and the highest quality rubies produce a bright crimson color when they're held up to the light. Rubies with a deep blood-red color are called pigeon's blood rubies.
Asterism: A six-ray star can be seen in some ruby specimens when they are cut into cabochons. The six-ray star appearance is called an "asterism." Rubies that exhibit asterisms are called "star rubies." When this six-ray characteristic is complemented by near perfect transparency, the ruby is said to be extremely rare and valuable. Star rubies are often set into ruby rings and other fine pieces of ruby jewelry in a way that showcases their asterism brilliantly.
Synthetic rubies: Rubies were the first gemstone to be produced synthetically in the 1800s. Synthetic rubies, often called "created rubies," are beautiful in jewelry and look just like natural rubies when viewed with the naked eye. Rubies labeled as synthetic or created have the same chemical properties as their natural counterparts, although gems labeled as "imitation" do not. Trustworthy retailers will carefully specify whether a ruby is natural, created or imitation.