With hot summer days, red strawberries, and watermelon at every summer picnic, it is hard to imagine how any other gem but a Ruby could be July’s birthstone. Jewelers of America first listed ruby as the birthstone for July in 1912.
The ruby derives its name from the Latin word ruber, which translates to red – the color of love and passion. Most rubies are dark red in color, with some variations ranging from pink to purple. The finest color of the birthstone for July is a deep red with a hint of purple, called “pigeon’s blood” in the trade. Ruby is a crystalline variation of the mineral aluminum oxide found in the corundum family, along with sapphire and emerald. The July birthstone is endowed with its deep red color from the element chromium; the more chromium that is present, the deeper the tone of red.
Rubies on the Mohs hardness scale come in at a 9. That harness and its hexagonal crystal structure make rubies ideal for jewelry. They are resistant to most scratching but can be etched with acids and as with all natural stones, they will get damaged if they have inclusions or fractures. Their vivid red color makes them one of the most valuable and sought-after gemstones.
In ancient Asia, the natives described the stone as the ‘King of Precious Stones’ because of its unique features which led people to believe that the stone carried mystical powers. So strong was this belief that Burmese warriors claimed that wearing a ruby necklace into battle made one invincible. The ancient Hindus observed a spiritual connection between rubies and the root chakra, or Muladhara (represented by a deep red color), and believed that the gemstone could ward off negative energy, fight evil, enhance sexual drive, and treat inflammation. In practice, men and women would rub the July birthstone on their skin to improve physical and mental health.
In some parts of the world, the ruby signified peace, harmony, and power; while in others, rubies were a sign of good health, wealth, wisdom, and a happy love life. In the modern age, rubies are strongly associated with vitality, energy, and physical strength. Ruby is the gem for the 40th wedding anniversary.
Because of rubies hardness, they are easy to care for and clean. Usually, a solution of mild soap and light scrubbing from a toothbrush is all that’s needed. If really dirty, a ruby can withstand cleaning from an ultrasonic cleaner.