Ruby – Forever in the Spotlight
The name ruby comes from the Latin word ruber, which means red. To the ancients, ruby was known as the king of gems. In ancient Sanskrit, the word for ruby, Ratnaraj, translates to King of Precious Stones.
For thousands of years, ruby was an important stone, considered the gem of love, energy, passion and power. It was also known as the stone of courage, and legend tells us that a person possessing a ruby can walk through life without fear of evil or misfortune.
In China, a Mandarin’s rank was indicated by the color of the stone in his ruby ring. A red jewel stone meant he was a key figure among the greats. In the Middle Ages, rubies were viewed as a stone of prophecy. It was thought that the stone darkened when danger was near. Ivan the Terrible of Russia stated that rubies were good for the heart, brain and memory. A 13th-century prescription to cure liver problems called for powdered ruby. In the 15th and 16th centuries, rubies were thought to counteract poison. When rubbed on the skin, they were also thought to restore youth and vitality.
French jewelers called ruby the gem of gems or the dearly loved stone. It was the stone of choice for the British Crown Jewels, following a tradition dating back to the 13th century, with notable examples being the Stuart Coronation Ring (c. 1660) and the 19th-century Queen Consort’s Ring.
Among the world’s historical rubies are such remarkable gems as: a 400-carat Myanmar rough that yielded 70- and 45-carat gems; a rough of 304 carats found about 1890; the Chhatrapati Manik ruby; and the 43-carat Peace Ruby. Among some of the other notable rubies are: the 138.7-carat Rosser Reeves star ruby (red, Sri Lanka); the 50.3-carat (violet-red star ruby, Sri Lanka); the 33.8-carat (red star, Sri Lanka), all housed in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC; and a Burmese ruby crystal of 690 grams in the British Museum of Natural History in London.