July’s birthstone is none other than the King of Gems, the precious ruby. Known as one of the most expensive gemstones in the world, the ruby has carried its regal air since antiquity. In Sanskrit, the ruby was first given its moniker Ratnanayaka, the “king of precious stones,” while the Indians once believed that by offering rubies as sacrifices to the gods, it would make them emperors in the next life.
The highest ranked officials of Qing Dynasty China wore ruby hat pins to signify their rank, but high rank is not the only characteristic of rubies. Medieval Europeans also believed its blood-like hue granted them health, wealth, wisdom and even love. While we may laugh at these notions, it is still common to see ruby jewellery be given today as a great token of love and affection!
Ancient Burmese even wore rubies into battle, believing that the crimson gemstone would make them invincible. While this would seem like a great waste, it probably made more sense to them as the earliest recorded ruby mines were found in Myanmar. Even today, the most valuable and most sought-after rubies are said to come from Myanmar. Rubies can also be found in many other places like Thailand, Vietnam, and even Mozambique, which produces rubies said to be on par with the famed Mogok deposits.
Such is the allure of the ruby throughout the ages, many stones that were once considered or thought to be rubies, turned out to be spinels (birthstones in their own right) or rubellite. Interested to know the difference? Every week this month, Foundation Jewellers will feature a piece of our Peranakan jewellery that highlights the ruby, tell you the story behind its craft, and additional information you wish you knew about the “King of Precious Stones”. Stay subscribed for more developments, and share this with those you know would be interested!