The Timeless Allure of Rubies

By Sotheby's

R ich in colour, regal in stature, historic in its past – the ruby is legendary. Discovered more than 2,000 years ago, rubies have been written about for centuries. From the Bible to entries from the great adventurers such as Marco Polo, rubies have stirred emotion and captured imagination throughout time.

Believed to hold the power of life, this majestic gem can be traced back to Burma, a source of rubies since 600 AD. Top grade rubies are called ‘pigeon blood’ after the vivid bright red that they display. Signifying wealth, success and health, rubies have been worn by historic figures throughout history. In ancient Sanskrit, the ruby is called 'Ratnaraj' or 'King of Precious Stones', and was worn by ancient warriors for protection, and royalty to symbolise their majesty.

Rubies | Fine Jewels

A ruby’s chemical properties are identical to sapphires except in colour. Because of its hardness on the Mohs scale, rubies are the perfect gemstone to be cut into different shapes and sizes and then crafted into a piece of jewelry.

For centuries, European royalty have collected some of the world’s most prized rubies to adorn their jewels. From The Sunrise Ruby (sold at Sotheby’s, world record price for a ruby), to a collection of jewels from the Royal Parma Family, rubies are highly esteemed for their mystique and beauty.

Less than 10% of all gem quality rubies are unheated, making them rare and impressive. Darker rubies are more common and are often heated to enhance their shade, but unheated rubies are naturally intense and vibrant. In particular, rubies from Burma react to UV light which creates a fire and natural glow in the stone in sunlight, one of the reasons Burmese rubies are so highly valued.

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