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Ruby Gemstone - The Official New Zealand Guide

Updated: Nov 13

Ruby derives its name from the Latin Rubens which directly translates to red.

The Sunrise Ruby Ring by Cartier
The Sunrise Ruby by Cartier

Ruby is the red variety of the mineral 'corundum' and belongs to the same family as sapphire. Colour is what distinguishes Ruby from sapphire. Rubies are exclusively red, while sapphires are blue or any other colour. The corundum mineral is a combination of aluminium oxide. A trace of chromium gives Ruby its distinct red colour and sets it apart from sapphire. The more chromium a ruby contains, the richer the red colour. The red colour of Ruby varies with individual deposits, and characteristic red shades of rubies originate from different countries. Burmese Ruby is a full-bodied red with a touch of orange, often referred to as 'pigeons blood' or 'Burmese red'. A Ceylon Ruby is a more pinkish variety of red. A Thai Ruby is a slightly violet shade of red and often exceedingly brilliant, and an African Ruby can be a brownish shade of red. Active mining of rubies occurs in Burma, Madagascar, Vietnam, Tanzania, Mozambique, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan & Tajikistan.

"A clear transparent, and faultless ruby of a uniform deep red colour is at present time the most valuable stone known" ~ Max Bauer (1896)

Pigeon Blood Ruby Gemstone Ring
2.45ct Pigeon Blood Ruby

Rubies are becoming increasingly rare to find in a 1 plus carat size. Depending on the cut, clarity and colour, prices range from $3,000 to $25,000 per carat for a good quality gemstone. Heat or Thermal treament of Ruby is considered acceptable even in high-quality examples. Although 95% of Rubies on the market have had heat applied, this doesn't affect the price too considerably. Other treatments such as lead glass filling, heat treatment with flux, and surface filling substantially lower the value of ruby but increase its overall appearance.

Ruby has one the longest documented histories out of all the coloured gemstones. References to Ruby date back to the old testament of the bible, with mentions in Job, Proverbs and Lamentations. Other early references to ruby include early Chinese literature documenting its transportation in 200BC along the North Silk Road, an ancient travel route from China moving westward. Ruby has a red aura. In the sunshine, you can see its distinct glow. The ancient Burmese said this aura could even be seen in the dark. According to one legend, a king in Burma had rubies that glowed so brightly; that they lit up the city at night.

"Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies?" ~ (Proverbs 31:10)

The most iconic mention of Rubies in popular culture is the sparkling red ruby slippers worn by Dorothy Gale in the 1939 adaption of The Wizard of Oz. Interestingly one of the most famous names in jewellery design Harry Winston recreated Dorothy's slippers in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the film. Bedazzled with 1350 carats of rubies and 50 carats of diamonds, Harry Winston's red ruby slippers became the most expensive pair of shoes ever produced, costing a staggering 3 million dollars in 1989.

Ruby is the only coloured precious gemstone to reach the USD 1,000,000.00 per carat mark in a Sotheby's auction in 2015. The 25.59 carat Sunrise Ruby designed by Cartier sold for an astonishing $30,335,698, equating to $1,185,451 per carat.

One of the most high-profile ruby jewellery sets is the breathtaking Danish ruby parure, which dates over 200 years. Its story begins with the coronation of Napoleon I in 1804. To ensure his coronation was of the most spectacular fashion, he gave all his marshals funds to buy new jewellery for their wives. Among them was Jean Bernadotte, who commissioned the parure for this wife, Desiree Clary. Both were commoners then; however, Bernadotte was late elected heir to the Swedish throne, and Desiree became Queen Desideria. The parure passed into the Danish royal family in 1869 when Princess Louise received the jewels as a wedding present. Although Swedish, she was marrying the future King of Denmark, Frederik VIII of Denmark. The gift was deemed appropriate since the diamonds and rubies echoed the colours of the Danish flag. The parure currently belongs to Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. The showpiece of the parure is the stunning tiara, composed of diamond-encrusted leaves and ruby "berries". The tiny rubies have been cleverly set in clusters to appear more prominent. The parure also consists of a necklace, earrings, brooch, and bracelet (later added by Crown Princess Mary).

The Danish parure ruby tiara
The Danish Parure Ruby Tiara

Ruby is the birthstone for those born in July. It is also the symbol of a 40th wedding anniversary. It is said that Rubies were traditionally used to inspire romance and passion! The natural aura of a Ruby represents the flame of love in the hearts of a couple who have spent 40 years together in marriage.

For the first time, The Sapphire Merchant has available two exceptional examples of high-quality ruby gemstone. The first is a huge 2.45ct pigeon blood red ruby from Mozambique, and the second is a 0.98ct pigeon blood red ruby with incredible clarity. In addition, both rubies come with detailed gemstone identification reports and independent New Zealand insurance valuations. If you are looking for ruby options and neither of these is appropriate, please inquire about our gemstone brokering service.


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