Published 09/23/2020 by Rebecca Nichols

When you picture ruby, you may think of the fiery red gemstone associated with love and courage or even of Dorothy’s ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, but there is so much more to love about this crimson gem. Here are 10 amazing facts to make you love July’s birthstone even more:

1. Ruby is one of the Big 4 precious gemstones.

The Big 4 precious gemstones, made up of diamond, sapphire, emerald and ruby, are the four most sought after and valuable gemstones in the world. The beauty and rarity of these four gemstones have made them a favorite in crown jewels for centuries.

2. All red gemstones were once thought to be ruby.

The name ruby comes from the Latin word “ruber” which means red. Before modern guidelines, gemstone identification was primarily based on color, so all red gemstones including garnet and spinel were called ruby.

3. Ruby and sapphire are the same mineral.

Ruby and sapphire are both corundum, which is the second hardest mineral after only diamond. In this case, color makes all the difference. Only red corundum is ruby and all other hues that don’t quite make the cut, including pink, purple and orange, are sapphire.

4. Pigeon blood is the most valuable color of ruby.

While ruby only comes in red, variations in hue and secondary colors make a huge difference in the value of a gemstone. Only the most vivid red rubies are called pigeon blood. This term is believed to have originated in Burma, which is world famous for its high quality rubies.

5. Ruby can be found around the world.

While Myanmar (also called Burma) was the historical supplier, ruby can be found throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Australia, South America and the United States.

6. Large rubies can be worth more than diamonds.

Chromium is what gives ruby its beautiful red color, but it is also responsible for causing fractures which makes finding a ruby above three carats very rare. Because of this, a ruby over ten carats can be worth more per carat than a diamond of the same size and quality.

7. The most expensive ruby sold for over 30 million dollars.

The Sunrise Ruby, weighing a whopping 25.59 carats, was sold in 2015 for $30,335,698. This made ruby the first and only colored gemstone so far to have broken 1 million dollars per carat.

8. Imperfection adds to ruby’s beauty.

The same mineral that gives ruby its color is also responsible for almost all rubies having imperfections. However, these imperfections can actually add to ruby’s natural beauty by giving its surface a satin-like appearance. In fact, flawless ruby is so rare that finding no inclusions is often a sign that you are not dealing with a genuine ruby.

9. Ruby was used in the first laser.

The world’s first laser, invented in 1960, used a ruby crystal which gave the laser beam its distinctive red glow. While not as common today, ruby lasers are still used for medical and cosmetic procedures and in high speed photography. Ruby is also used in some microelectronics.

10. July has two historical alternative birthstones.

Though the modern July birthstone is ruby, it was not always that way. Over 100 years ago, July’s birthstones were turquoise and onyx. Turquoise, now one of December’s birthstones, is known for its vivid blue with black webbing and is said to encourage self-realization and creativity. If you think of onyx, you probably picture its bands of black and white, but did you know it actually comes in almost every color? Onyx has long been believed to boost confidence and strength.

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