Mohs scale hardness: 9
One of the most durable and revered of gems -- Rubies, second in hardness only to diamond, but heavier than diamond. Rubies and sapphires come from the same mineral, that is corundum. Ruby is red corundum, other colors beside red are considered sapphires. The Ruby is crystalline form of alumunium oxide, infused with trace elements of chromium which gives the gemstone its red color. The name comes from the latin word ruber, for red. Rubies range in color from orangey-red, purplish-red, pink to red but the most prized rubies are still true red in color. Fine rubies are rarer than top quality diamonds. They are also far more expensive, perhaps because red has always symbolized man’s strongest passions, and no embodiment of red equals that of a first-rate ruby. If Rubies are being heated above around 1000 celsius, the color will change to pink and will back to its original color again when cooled in normal temperature.
Mystical and Healing Powers of Ruby
Rubies are also the wedding anniversary birthstones for the 40th years of marriage. According to Myanmaran tradition, wearing rubies will make your dream come true. The gems are also believed to give their wearers sexual appeal and protect them from dangers. Some believe when the color grows darker it means peril is imminent and to return to its original color once danger was past -- provided it is in the hands of its rightful owner. Rubies are called "rajnapura" or King of Gems by ancient Hindus.
It is believed rubies have special properties:
- Brings happiness in a relationship.
- Cure erectile dysfunction.
- Make people stronger and dashing.
- Expand friendships.
- To guard wearer’s properties and wealth.
- Protect the wearer from bad or negative influences (the color keep changing when danger is approaching).
- Prevent heavy rain and storm.
Fine star rubies and sapphires are highly valuable. The star moves across the face of the stone with shifts in light, an effect known as “asterism”. The word ‘asterism’ is derived from tthe Greek ‘aster’ which means star. The best ones possess an intensely rich body color and a strong sharp star with all six rays equally straight and prominent. It is extremely rare to find a gem that combines these qualities. Star rubies show pleochroism, it means that the gems will show different colors when viewed from different directions.
Many rubies will fluoresce in short or long wave UV and the stone’s geographic origin can be identified using this property. Some rubies fluoresce so strong such as Burmese rubies and the effect is noticeable even in sunlight. Transparent rubies are favored, but inclusions are actually required for a star ruby. The asterism effect is caused by the oriented rutile crystal inclusions (also known as 'silk') that convert a ruby into the desired Star ruby. The wavy star like formation in star ruby is due to the reflection of light from these long and thin needle like inclusions (rutile).
The size and sharpness of the star depend on the quantity and quality of rutile needles. A denser packed rutile gives you a better star, longer needles also produce a bigger star. Too much needles will turn the gem into a low translucent stone, lack ‘asterism’ and also harms the color of the ruby. Since rutile is present in star rubies, they are not completely transparent. Star rubies are cut into round or oval-shaped cabochons to display its best star effect. Other popular gemstones that display asterism are Star Rose Quartz, Star Sapphire, Star Garnet, Star Diopside, Star Spinel, Star Moonstone and Star Opal.
Star ruby can display 4 – 12 rays depending on the crystal system of the stone, 12 rays star effect is very occasional. Usually star ruby displays the 6-legged star effect. The color of star rubies are usually in between pink and red, purple and brown, or purple and red. A red star ruby is extremely rare and costly. The sharpness and strength of the star as well as the intensity of the body colors of a star ruby will influence its value. All 6 legs of the star should be prominent, straight, sharp and centered but not wide and blurry. The star should be milky white or silvery, and the main ray should run lengthwise. From a clarity standpoint, the gem should be semi-transparent.
For every 100 faceted corundum (include sapphires and rubies) mined, only about 3 stars are discovered but then not all of them will have a good body color and a good star. Only one out of a hundred star gems found will probably have a combination of a good star and good body color. This shows you how rare these star gems are.
Asian origins: Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India.
Ruby Heat Treatment
Almost all rubies have flaws, it is estimated that ninety percent of rubies and sapphires on the world market today undergo heat treatment, a permanent process widely accepted by the gem trade. The gem dealers perfected a heat treatment process that transformed the worthless gems into valuable gems. Coatings are also used to camuflage the surface fractures of the sttone, but it will wear off in time. Dyes are another method to intensify the color of rubies.
There are gemstones which often mistakenly called ruby such as the Siberian ruby (it is actually a pink or red tourmaline), balas ruby (is a type of spinel), the Bohemian ruby (it is actually a rose quartz). Other gems that resemble ruby are American ruby, Rocky Mountain ruby, Montana ruby and Cape ruby, those stones are varieties of garnet. Therefore for those who want to buy ruby becareful not to buy the wrong stone.
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