Among the colored gemstones, one stone stands out in particular: the ruby, the king of gemstones (from the Sanskrit ratnaraj). The ruby is linked to a strong symbolism and to many legends. Its blood-red color represents anger and passion. In many cultures, it is said that the ruby holds the power of life. Prized by royalty over the centuries, ruby is primarily a stone of prestige.
It is one of the four traditional gemstones, along with diamond, emerald and sapphire. It has many similarities with the latter, and for good reason: ruby and sapphire are two varieties of the same mineral - corundum. Ruby is the name given to red corundum, while all others are called sapphires.
Ruby owes its distinctive color, which distinguishes it from other corundum, to a chemical element: chromium, present in small quantities in its crystal structure. The color of ruby can vary from pinkish red to purplish red, or with a tinge of blue... The most sought after, and most famous, shade is pigeon's blood.
While rubies can come from Mozambique, Thailand or even Tanzania, some rubies stand out: those from the legendary Mogok Valley in Myanmar. This region is so famous that it is called "the valley of rubies". It is a geological marvel: there are stones of exceptional quality - rubies, sapphires, spinels... Mogok rubies are generally not heated, unlike the vast majority of other rubies, which are heated to enhance their color.
The Mogok Valley, like many other gem mining areas, is shrouded in myth and legend. It is said that the valley of rubies was born from the mythological snake Naga. This one laid three eggs: from the first two hatched the king of Pagan (one of the first Burmese empires) and the emperor of China. The third egg was stolen, but was lost in a stream where it cracked, releasing a number of rubies that scattered throughout the Mogok region.
Many rubies were formed in Asia when India collided with the Asian continent, creating the Himalayan Mountains. Rubies generally form small crystals, so faceted rubies over ten carats are extremely rare. Thus, rubies are rarer than diamonds of the same size, and can reach a colossal value. One of the most famous rubies is the Sunrise Ruby, which sold at auction at Sotheby's in 2015. This 25.59ct pigeon-blood Burmese ruby set two records: the most expensive ruby ever sold, and the highest price per carat for a ruby in the world. It sold for approximately $30.4 million (over 27.2 million euros) - about $1.2 million per carat. Only diamonds have a value that rivals that of rubies.
The Black Prince ruby, actually a spinel
The ruby is so famous that many famous stones that were thought to be rubies were not, and were actually spinels or tourmalines. The Black Prince's ruby, set in the Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom, is a spinel. A stone of prestige and power, coveted by royalty, the "king of gemstones" is a stone of symbols that has not finished telling us its legends.
Discover without delay our collection of rubies, available on Nascendi Paris.