Among most peoples, ruby has symbolised since time immemorial the highest of earthly possessions – love

The ancient Sanskrit Indians named this fiery relic “Lord of Gemstones, Ratnanayaka”. Today’s name originates from the Latin word “Ruber”, meaning red, but it is the Indian name that hints at the stone’s noble, indeed royal, charisma. Throughout history, royalty of all countries and cultures have regarded ruby as a particular symbol of everlasting beauty, wealth and power. In the orient, ruby was held to be a good luck talisman that possessed special powers, such as warning its bearer of danger by turning to a darker shade of red. As a gift, ruby was therefore an expression of special devotion – and remains so to this day.


The first discoveries of rubies are only vaguely traceable to the 15th century. It is said that criminals, as a punishment, were banished to Mogok, a Burmese valley where they discovered these red stones. The king of Burma, to whom the Mogok valley did not yet belong, cunningly exchanged a worthless piece of land for these promising red grounds, the Shan princes unknowingly losing out. Royal documentation of 1597 refers to these findings, which became the exclusive property of the Burmese throne.


Ruby owes its popularity to its intense fiery colour and symbolic values. The shades of ruby are countless: they range from pink through blood red to darkest purple. The most highly regarded colour is what is known as “pigeon blood” red rubies, a dark, saturated shade of carmine red. The more intense the colour and vivid the sparkle, the more sought after is the ruby. Dr. Eduard Gubelin described ruby as a “flaming beacon” which owes its popularity to the majestically glowing colour of a fiery red ember under a surface featuring a lacquered sheen.


Gemmological Properties
Ruby is a member of the colourful corundum family, members of which occur in every imaginable colour and shade of the spectrum. Its chemical composition is a combination of aluminium and oxygen that turns these delicate gems into one of the world’s hardest minerals. The red of the ruby is the result of minute amounts of chromium found within the original corundum composition. The intensity of the red depends on the amount of chromium present; the higher the percentage, the darker the red. As with most gems, Mother Nature is again sparing in her combination of aluminium with chromium, allowing for only a rare supply.


Mining Areas
The world’s first source of rubies was the island of Ceylon, presently Sri Lanka. However, the discovery of vibrant red rubies in large sizes was sporadic at best and extremely rare. The first source to produce a plentiful supply of richly coloured rubies was a remote valley in the upper Shan State of Burma, named Mogok. Throughout most of their diverse history, the gems of Mogok had remained a well-guarded secret of the Burmese kings and local ruling lords. However, by the late 1700s, the ruby mines of Burma had become renowned around the world as a pre-eminent source of finest-quality rubies.


In more recent times, the number of ruby sources has increased significantly. In addition to Burma (Myanmar), high-quality as well as low-quality rubies are recovered from a number of sources around the world, including Afghanistan, Vietnam, Tanzania, Mozambique, Tajikistan, Thailand, Madagascar, Pakistan, Zambia and Cambodia.