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The Ruby Gemstone

Ruby is a precious gemstone that is typically red or pink hued. The name ‘ruby’ comes from the word ‘ruber’, which is Latin for red. The ruby gemstone is one of two varieties of the mineral corundum; the other is sapphire. Ruby is one of the traditional cardinal gems, alongside sapphire, diamond, emerald and amethyst.

Types of Rubies

Rubies have historically been mined in Thailand, Cambodia, Brazil and more. The Republic of Macedonia is the only country in mainland Europe to have naturally occurring rubies. Different types of rubies include:


  • Pigeon Blood Rubies: Also known as Burmese rubies for their occurrence in mines here. These are sought after because of their deep, blood red hue that has a slightly blue tint to it.
  • Synthetic Rubies: Synthetic rubies were first developed in 1837 by Gaudin. These were particularly popular in Victorian times.
  • Thai Rubies: Rubies mined in Thailand are popular due to their colour; royal red with flashes of purple. They are coloured this way due to their higher iron content.


antique ruby ring
ruby gemstone history
ruby gemstone

Ruby Quality

Unlike diamonds, there is no worldwide standard for assessing rubies and other gemstone jewellery. Therefore, each stone must be evaluated in its own right. The quality of a ruby is determined by four factors; colour, cut, clarity and carat weight.

Colour should meet a minimum saturation level to be called a ruby; otherwise the stone would be classed as a pink sapphire. Drawing a distinction between rubies and pink sapphires is a relatively new and much contented subject between gemmologists.

Ruby cut is another way of establishing quality, however this is incredibly personal. The best cut for a ruby will vary wildly depending on the piece in question.

When judging rubies for clarity, a clear stone will command a premium. However, since inclusions are so naturally occurring in rubies a completely flawless stone would suggest that a stone has been treated, which could reduce its value.

ruby brooch
ruby locket
ruby brooch

Ruby Meaning

Rubies have been considered to be stones of significance by many cultures, for many centuries.

Ancient civilisations believed that rubies held the power to life, due to their similarity in colour with blood.

Rubies are mentioned four times in the bible, in association with qualities such as wisdom and beauty.

Several Asian countries have a rich and interesting history regarding the ruby gemstone. Rubies were used to ornament armour, as warriors believed that the stone possessed the power to make them invincible in battle. Rubies were also laid beneath the foundations of buildings to secure good fortune to the structure.

Western tradition views rubies among the most romantic of stones. They are seen to represent passion, love and desire. As such they are often given as Valentine’s Day gifts.

Famous Rubies

Rubies have remained culturally significant throughout history. Famous rubies include:


  • Liberty Bell Ruby: This is the largest mined ruby in the world, measuring in at eight and a half thousand carats. It was stolen in a heist in 2011 and has not yet been recovered.
  • Sunrise Ruby: This Burmese ‘Pigeon Blood’ stone is the most expensive ruby in the world. This is due to its exceptional colour, clarity, and carat weight. It is the most valuable gemstone (that isn’t a diamond) in the world.
  • Anne of Brittany Ruby: This is a polished but irregular ruby that is housed in the Louvre. It has a total carat weight of 105 carats.
  • Royal Rubies: Rubies have often been the stone of choice for British coronation rings. This tradition dates back to the 13th century. Notable examples include the Stuart Coronation Ring and the Queen’s Consort Ring.
  • Rosser Reeves Star Ruby: This ruby is considered to be the largest fine star ruby in existence. It is located in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C, and has a carat weight of 138.7 carats.


Why Choose Antique Rubies?

At AC Silver we are pleased to be able to offer our customers a large collection of antique and vintage ruby jewellery.

Vintage and antique ruby jewellery is timeless, and is a wonderful choice as a gift for anyone who adores this precious gemstone.

As coloured gemstones for engagement rings continue to grow in popularity, there is no better time to invest in an antique ruby ring. This is the perfect way to add some personality to an engagement ring; the pop of colour adds a twist to tradition whilst still remaining a timeless piece.

Ruby jewellery has been considered covetable for centuries, and we have no doubt that it will remain enduringly popular for years to come.

Proud Members of

International Federation of Art and Antique Dealer Associations CINOA
National Association of Jewellery UK's trade association NAJ