Rubies are among the most valuable gemstones!
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Ruby is one of the most valuable gems used in jewelry. It is a member of the corundum mineral family, which is a form of aluminum oxide. Pure natural corundum is a colorless material, and as with many other gems, the color of a specific stone is determined by the presence of impurities. Rubies are red because the material is "contaminated" with chromium. Colorless corundum is called White Sapphire.
Corundum in any color other than red is a sapphire. This can be clear, or white sapphire, the familiar blue, pink or many other brilliant colors - but only red corundum is a ruby. Many rubies are heat treated to enhance their color.
Fine quality rubies come from many areas, but the most commercially important source is Thailand.
Ruby is a very hard gem. It is a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, which means that it can be scratched only with diamond. When a lapidary (stonecutter) cuts and polishes a ruby, he or she must use diamond saws, laps and abrasives, or diamond polishing compounds.
Many corundum gems contain fine needle like inclusions, which are similar in structure to the inclusions in cats eyes or moonstones. When this occurs, sapphires and rubies that are cut correctly can display a very strong "star" effect. Star rubies are prized for their rarity and beauty!
Modern technology has made ruby jewelry affordable for most gemstone jewelry lovers! Synthetic rubies are beautiful and affordable. To the unaided eye or even through a loupe, they appear exactly the same as natural rubies. Under a microscope, the crystal growth patterns do appear different, so a gemologist can tell natural ruby from synthetic. Anyone just looking at it will think ruby! The ring on the right is an example.
Over the centuries, many powerful leaders have favored rubies. Ruby gemstones are considered by many to be a strong influence on leadership abilities, as well as a stone that promotes healing, friendship and courage.
Ruby Care Tips
Ruby jewelry made with sterling silver or gold can be dipped in a solution to remove tarnish without harming the stone. A set ruby requires little care other than to clean and polish the precious metal jewelry it's mounted in. Of course, like anything else we wear ruby jewelry will get dirty and should be cleaned. Warm water, dishwashing detergent and a soft toothbrush will do wonders to clean up ruby jewelry. Ruby bead jewelry can be washed by hand with some dishwashing liquid and warm water. After washing, jewelry should be polished. The best polish can be obtained with a rouge impregnated jewelry polishing cloth. Ruby jewelry is routinely cleaned in steam and ultrasonic machines.
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