Well, July babies, it's only fitting that you have an intensely colored birthstone to carry you through what is traditionally one of the hottest months of the year—ruby!
Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum. Trace elements of chromium give ruby its luscious color. The more chromium present, the more intense the color, which can range from deep orange-red to more of a purple-red. You may also be familiar with its corundum sister, sapphire. (We'll talk about that one in September!) Like sapphires, they can display asterism, or "stars" when inclusions of the mineral rutile are present and positioned in a certain way within the stone.
Ruby symbolizes courage, love and passion.
Rubies have been mined and treasured for centuries. They have been worn by warriors and royalty. They are found in locations across Asia, such as India, Thailand, Afghanistan and Myanmar (formerly Burma; natural Burmese rubies actually glow under black lights due to their fluorescence! They are considered to be the highest quality in rubies). They are also found in Brazil, Namibia, Australia and even in here in the United States.
With a Mohs scale hardness of 9, that are nearly as hard as diamonds, so they make durable pieces of jewelry (or instruments of battle if you are one of those aforementioned warriors).
Like most other gemstones, ruby is usually treated or enhanced. Fractures in the surface are often filled with glass to make them less noticeable and make the stone look more transparent. Gem-quality rubies can be heat treated to remove the purplish color or rutile inclusions. Ruby beads are often treated with a permanent dying process to enhance their color and make them a more intense red. Any of these processes should be disclosed if used if you are purchasing a ruby.
One thing is for sure, no other stone represents passion, courage or love quite like a ruby!