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The Mystique Behind the Ruby

Mar 20, 2008
The vibrant red-colored ruby was fodder for many a lore and legend. The gemstone spurned a mystical quality that led people in history to revere it as a magical item, something that enhanced human traits like intelligence, bravery, passion and all red color associated emotion across many world cultures. This will be a brief on a little history of the ruby, its lore and some straight facts about the stone.

It has been postulated that man has had fascination with the ruby amongst all other gemstones before written language came about. Cave paintings have provided such evidence. Later in civilization the ruby came to be valued the most among gemstones, often making diamonds second runner up. Crowns and breastplates would often display the ruby central with diamonds that perimeter around it. It was elevated to royalty status.

In fact, the crown of Charles IV of Luxembourg, from the 1300s, held a ruby faceted within what was an enormous 250 carats. It was something that could fit snugly inside one's fist. Like many people of his time, the bohemian king held a belief of the occult alongside Christian doctrine.

The power of colors was important; they were symbolic as well as magical derivatives of the ruby and other precious gemstones. The ruby in this case may have shared several symbolic meanings; many think that people during Charles' time associated it with the blood of Christ.

Without the Red It's Just a Sapphire

Ruby gemstones are in a family of mineral compounds called corundum. This is a crystalline form of aluminum oxide. The compound normally yields a clear color if unaltered, but the earth will impart impurities that give the crystal a color. With rubies, the elements chromium and vanadium are the impurity and imparts a red color.

If there is any other element other than chromium, like titanium or iron the stone will be considered a sapphire. In fact with titanium and iron present in the crystal lattice structure, you can end up with the highly sought after blue sapphire.

Rubies, as well as its sapphire cousins, share some similar properties. They of course build a similar crystal lattice structure; they also are some of the hardest gemstones on the market. They rank a 9 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale (where a diamond ranks a 10).

Rubies, like all natural gemstones, will carry with them small physical imperfections. The imperfections are called inclusions. This is not really a bad thing to have inclusions. Gemologists and geologists will look for these natural imperfections to see if the ruby is the real deal and not some synthetic.

Special inclusions, called rutile needles, often known as "silk," make the ruby reflect patterns of light or show color changes in some cases. This can actually increase the market value.
About the Author
Africa Gems (http://www.africagems.com) offers a vast array of strait cut gemstones and other jewelry online. Africa Gems' owner is a professional who has gone on many gem safaris and speaks from experiences that come, literally, from the trenches. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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