Ruby Jewelry: The Perfect Gift For July Birthdays & Anniversaries

by Nancy Plante June 24, 2019

Ruby Jewelry: The Perfect Gift For July Birthdays & Anniversaries

Ruby has long been known as the “King of Gems,” and for good reasons. It’s one of the four precious gemstones (including diamond, sapphire, and emerald), and it has a hardness that is second only to the diamond.

Ruby is the July birthstone, and it’s also traditionally given for 40th wedding anniversaries. Its gorgeous hue, powerful symbolism, and durable wearability make it one of the most fascinating of all gemstones.

Let’s take a look at the history of the ruby, tips on how to wear ruby jewelry, and other fun facts about the July gemstone.

Ruby Birthstone Meaning & History

Ruby is the most valuable of the corundum minerals. A fine ruby is more valuable than a sapphire and rarer than a diamond. First discovered about 2,000 years ago in India, ruby has always symbolized power in battle, love, and life. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, ruby is called ratnaraj, which means “king of precious stones.” The color of blood, ruby embodies strength and life force, and is believed to protect the wearer from harm. The Bible mentions rubies several times, and the gem has been called the most precious of the 12 stones created by God.

Ancient Hindus rubbed the gem on their skin to absorb its power and improve their mental and physical health. Medieval Europeans believed that wearing rubies guaranteed success, love, and wealth. The ruby became one of the most desired gems by the upper class and European royalty.

The people of Burma gave Queen Elizabeth 96 rubies as a wedding gift to protect her from 96 diseases of the human body. In 1973, the Burmese rubies were set with diamonds into a stunning custom tiara for the Queen.

The legendary source of the most beautiful rubies is Myanmar, formerly called Burma. Estate jewelry is a source of Burmese rubies, but they cannot be imported into the United States since the Block Burmese Jade Act of 2008 went into effect. Today, rubies are found in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Mozambique.

You may have heard of “pigeon’s blood” rubies. This refers to the richest-colored rubies that are a medium red with slight purple tone. These vivid rubies are prized in Burma as the most desirable color.

Some rubies, like some sapphires, exhibit a phenomenon known as asterism: they have a six-rayed star. As the ruby crystal grows, atoms of titanium form a star when light strikes the gemstone. These gems are cut in a cabochon style—a rounded surface without facets to show the star. Ancient people believed that wearing a star ruby on the head or as a pendant would cause enemies who came face-to-face with the gemstone to lose their power. Rarely, a ruby will exhibit double asterism— a double, twelve-point star.

Dorothy’s ruby slippers in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz are one of the most iconic pieces in popular culture. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film, Harry Winston created a real pair of ruby slippers—adorned with 1,350 carats of rubies and 50 carats of diamonds. The slippers are worth a whopping $3 million!

Ruby Birthstone Care and Cleaning

Ruby is incredibly durable and hard—it boasts a 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. This makes it perfect for everyday wear, as well as for engagement rings and other mountings subject to daily wear. Rubies are often heat-treated to make their color more red than purple. This is a time-honored and permanent treatment. Some lower-quality rubies are glass-filled. This makes them more vulnerable to damage. Use warm water and mild soap to gently clean your ruby jewelry.

Rubies that are not glass-filled may be safely cleaned in an ultrasonic machine. However, if you are unsure if your ruby has been treated, it is best to err on the side of caution and simply use warm soapy water.

Tips for Buying Ruby Jewelry

  • Choose the most vibrant red stone. The most desirable rubies have a clear red color with a slight purplish tone rather than an orangey or purplish tone. If a ruby has many inclusions, it may appear dull, pinkish, or opaque.
  • Look for a quality ruby. A high-quality ruby has a mesmerizing glow or light from within the gemstone. Untreated ruby is the most costly of all, and can cost up to ten times that of a heated ruby. Finest-quality rubies are rarely available in sizes over 1 carat. While synthetic rubies have the same chemical composition as natural rubies, their color is not as deep and mesmerizing as a genuine ruby’s.
  • Choose any metal color you prefer. Traditionally, ruby was set in yellow gold, which tends to complement the amazing color that appears to be lit up from within and minimizes purple tones. A setting of white gold or platinum with diamonds looks stunning with the vibrant, rich red gem.
  • Rubies are perfect gifts for birthdays and anniversaries. A ruby birthstone ring is a lovely gift for someone who has a July birthday. Rubies are also exceptionally meaningful as a 40th wedding anniversary present. The 40th anniversary is one of the most important benchmarks (after the 25th), so it makes sense that the precious ruby is attached to this celebration of passion and love.

How to Wear Ruby Jewelry

Prized for its glorious red color, ruby is a very durable gemstone, making it perfect for jewelry, especially rings to commemorate a significant occasion. The glow of ruby is fun to wear as earrings or a pendant, since its deep true red is flattering to all skin tones. For a contemporary look, choose a simple pendant or ruby stud earrings. If you love vintage styling, the lacy look of filigree is beautiful with ruby. Yellow gold with vintage details is also a gorgeous look with rubies.

A ruby ring can be worn as an anniversary band, next to the engagement ring and wedding band, or as a right-hand ring. Choose a band style with rubies set smoothly in a channel setting, or try the sparkly look of prong-set rubies and diamonds.  If you’d rather have a larger center gemstone, a ruby with an oval, cushion, or round shape can be set in prongs or a bezel with the diamonds of your choice. You can also go with a simpler design, where the ruby is set flush or in a bezel, with no diamonds at all.

A fun, fashionable look is rough ruby beads in a narrow strand, with or without metal beads between. In this style, the ruby has inclusions, giving the gem a pinkish-red, more rustic look. The beads are shallow cylinders rather than round beads, and the overall look is casual and artsy.

Men can wear rubies too! A classic men’s style is a large oval or cushion-shaped created ruby set in yellow gold. With the lower price of a created ruby, you can get a larger size gem to achieve the look you desire.

Famous Rubies

It’s not surprising that a gemstone with so much history has captured the imagination of gem lovers for centuries. Below are some of the most famous rubies of all time:

  • The Sunrise Ruby—A 25.29ct pigeon’s blood ruby from Myanmar, known for the purity of its color and cut. Auctioned in Geneva in 2015 for over $30 million (more than 1 million dollars per carat!), it is the most expensive ruby in the world.  
  • The DeLong Star Ruby—A 100.32ct purplish-red ruby with a well-defined gray, 6-ray star. It was donated to the American Museum of Natural History by Edith Haggin de Long. In 1964, it was stolen by “Murph the Surf” and two accomplices. It was eventually ransomed for $25,000 and recovered in a phone booth in Florida.
  • The Rosser Reeves Star Ruby—The largest and finest star ruby in the world at 138.7ct. It was found in Sri Lanka and donated to the Smithsonian Institution by its owner, ad mogul Rosser Reeves. He believed it was his lucky stone.
  • The Neelanjali Ruby—The largest double-star ruby in the world, weighing 1370 carats. This ruby is incredibly rare. Estimated at a value of $100 million, it has been passed down in a family in India with royal ancestors.

  • The Liberty Bell Ruby—The largest ruby ever mined. It weighs 8500 carats! It was found in East Africa in the 1950s. In 1976, to commemorate the Bicentennial of the United States, the sculptor Alfonso de Vivanco carved the ruby into a 5-inch, 4-pound replica of the Liberty Bell, with a bald eagle standing guard at the top. The statue is decorated with 50 diamonds, one for each state. In 2011, the Liberty Bell Ruby was being held at a jewelry store in Delaware for the owner, who was planning to sell it and donate the proceeds to charity. Four men robbed the store, and among the very valuable items taken was the Liberty Bell Ruby. Valued at $2 million, it has never been recovered.

Rubies are elegant, timeless, and romantic. Whatever your personal style is, Plante Jewelers offers a wonderful selection of gorgeous July birthstone jewelry. Our custom jewelry designers in Swansea, Massachusetts can help you create a ruby jewelry piece that is purely your own.

Nancy Plante
Nancy Plante


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Blog

The Making Of A Ring
The Making Of A Ring

by Nancy Plante August 16, 2023

Wax Carving
Wax Carving

by Nancy Plante June 01, 2023

Past And Present
Past And Present

by Nancy Plante March 16, 2023