July’s birthstone is the ruby, a beautiful red gemstone that has long been associated with love, passion, and vitality. But what exactly gives the ruby its iconic bright red color? And what does this fiery hue represent for those born in July?
The Science Behind Ruby’s Red Color
Rubies get their vivid crimson color from trace amounts of the element chromium. When chromium is present in the crystal structure of corundum (aluminum oxide), it leads to the formation of ruby, while other elements such as iron or titanium form different colored sapphires. The specific shades of red in rubies can range from pinkish to blood-red depending on the amount and oxidation state of chromium present.
The chromium atoms absorb certain wavelengths of light, especially in the yellow-green region of the visible spectrum. As a result, when white light enters a ruby, the yellow and green components are absorbed, and the remaining wavelengths of light are transmitted back to our eyes as red. This selective absorption of only certain colors is what gives rubies their signature crimson glow.
The Meaning and Symbolism of Ruby’s Red Color
The vibrant red color of the ruby has carried deep symbolic meaning since ancient times. Here are some of the common associations and attributes of ruby’s rich red hue:
- Love and Passion – Red is the color of love, desire, and sensuality. Rubies have long been considered the ultimate romantic gemstone.
- Courage and Nobility – The ruby’s deep red recalls blood, and has been connected to courage, bravery, and royalty.
- Vitality and Life – The pulsing color of the ruby evokes themes of energy, vitality, youthfulness, and life.
- Prosperity and Success – In many cultures, red symbolizes prosperity, success, and good fortune.
- Protection – Rubies were thought to offer protective powers and ward off evil.
- Beauty and Brilliance – The ruby’s vibrant color is the essence of beauty, brilliance, and perfection.
So for those born in July, the ruby takes on special meaning. The fiery July birthstone reflects the peak of summer, when the days are long, spirits are high, and life is vibrant. July-borns are said to share many of the ruby’s glowing attributes – passion, courage, charm, and vigor.
Geographic Source of Rubies
While rubies can be found around the world, certain regions and mines are prized as sources for high quality stones. Here are some of the top geographic locations for sourcing fine rubies:
|Key Ruby Mining Areas
|Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are especially prized for their rubies. The Mogok valley in Myanmar has produced some of the world’s finest “pigeon’s blood” rubies, known for their intense saturation and blueish undertones. While rubies arise in diverse geologic settings, they often form close to marble deposits, with the marble providing sources of chromium and other trace elements needed for ruby formation.
July Birthstone Lore and Legends
In addition to its rich symbolic meaning, the ruby has accrued many myths and legends over the centuries. Here are some intriguing bits of July birthstone lore:
- Ancient Sanskrit Writings – Some of the earliest mentions of ruby’s powers come from ancient Sanskrit texts, which stated that those who offered fine rubies to the god Krishna were granted rebirth as emperors.
- The Ruby Slippers – In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy’s magical ruby slippers not only transported her home, but also made her impervious to evil – reflecting the protective powers ascribed to rubies.
- Pigeon’s Blood – The most coveted shade of ruby has been described as the color of “pigeon’s blood.” Precisely how this vivid crimson hue was chosen remains a mystery.
- The Black Prince’s Ruby – A fabled ruby the size of an egg adorns the British Imperial State Crown. Legend claims it was worn in a 14th century battle by Edward, the Black Prince.
- Ruby Glasses – Medieval European nobles were thought to wear ruby-tinted glasses to correct vision or ward off eye ailments. The rubies’ supposed curative properties led to huge demand.
From ancient texts to classic films, the legends around the July birthstone are as captivating as the stone itself. Throughout history, the ruby has been shrouded in mystery, romance, and allure – qualities still associated with it today.
Caring for July’s Birthstone
As a very hard and durable gemstone (9 on the Mohs scale), rubies are well-suited for jewelry use and everyday wear. However, proper care is still advised. Here are some tips for maintaining your ruby jewelry:
- Avoid harsh chemicals and extreme heat – Exposure to certain cleaners or high temperatures could damage the stone.
- Use a soft cloth for cleaning – Gently wipe rubies with a soft brush or cloth to remove oils and dirt.
- Ultrasonic or steam cleaning only when needed – Most rubies don’t require more than surface cleaning.
- Store pieces separately – Harder gems can scratch rubies, so keep them in separate compartments.
- Take off during strenuous activity – Protect your rubies from hard knocks, pressure, or chemicals.
- Have them inspected annually – Check for any damage or loose settings over time.
With occasional cleaning and sensible wear, your ruby jewelry will glow for years to come. Consult a gemologist if you ever need advice about cleaning, repairs, or appraisals.
Shopping Tips for July’s Birthstone
Ready to add a gorgeous ruby to your jewelry collection? Here are some essential factors to look for when shopping for the July birthstone:
- Color – Search for rubies with a vibrant, rich, red hue – neither too dark nor too pink.
- Clarity – Eye-clean stones are ideal, but minor inclusions can be acceptable.
- Cut – Well-cut rubies maximize color saturation through their precisely faceted surfaces.
- Carat – Larger carat sizes command exponentially higher prices. Consider size vs. budget.
- Source – Ask about the ruby’s geographic origin. Certain localities are more prestigious.
- Certifications – Reputable gem labs like GIA provide quality assurance.
- Treatment – Determine if the stone has been treated or enhanced to improve color.
Working with a knowledgeable jeweler is the best way to source a high quality ruby you’ll treasure. Ask plenty of questions and examine stones in different lighting conditions to accurately judge their true color and brilliance.
July Birthstone Jewelry Gift Ideas
Ready to give the gift of July’s birthstone? Here are some ruby jewelry ideas to inspire you:
- Ruby stud earrings – Classic and elegant go-with-anything earrings to add a pop of color.
- Ruby pendant necklace – A solitaire or cluster ruby pendant brings timeless beauty.
- Ruby ring – From vintage looks to modern designs, ruby rings make stunning gifts.
- Ruby tennis bracelet – Line up eye-catching rubies for luxe wrist candy.
- Ruby cufflinks – For sharp men’s accessories with just a hint of color.
- Ruby jewelry sets – Matching necklace, earrings, and ring for a coordinated look.
- Ruby watch – A watch with ruby markers or accents adds subtle sparkle.
- Vintage ruby jewelry – Search for one-of-a-kind antique or vintage pieces.
Any jewelry featuring July’s birthstone is sure to delight someone born in that month. Ruby’s allure spans classic to contemporary styles. Work with your jeweler to find that perfect ruby gift within your desired price range.
July’s birthstone, the beloved ruby, has dazzled for millennia with its entrancing red glow. For those born in July, the ruby’s vibrant color energizes the dog days of summer and reflects a zest for life. With its mix of science, symbolism, history, and lore, the ruby will continue to captivate jewelry aficionados for centuries to come. Whether given as a gift or acquired for oneself, the ruby’s sparkling crimson beauty outshines all other gems.