Ruby is the birthstone of July. It is a rare and expensive precious gemstone and the red variation of the mineral corundum. It receives its color from the trace element chromium; any non-red variant of corundum is considered a sapphire. The name ‘ruby’ is derived from the Latin word ‘rubeus,’ which means ‘red ‘. Interestingly, the chromium responsible for ruby’s fiery color also causes the rubies to fluoresce (in varying degrees). Myanmar (formerly Burma) produces most of the finest and deepest blood-red rubies in the world, while other ruby-producing countries include Thailand, Vietnam, India, the Middle East, Africa and the United States.
Rated as a ‘9’ on the Mohs hardness scale, the only harder gem is diamond. Surprisingly, large, high-quality rubies are, in fact, usually more expensive and valuable than diamonds of comparable size and quality. Rubies are susceptible to cracking and breakage due to their chromium composition. It is for this reason that they rarely grow and form into large gemstones, which makes large, fine-quality rubies extremely rare and valuable.