Red ruby is famous as a protector from misfortune and bad health, ruby is also used to open the heart and promote love. Given as a gift, ruby is a symbol of friendship and love. The ruby is also a symbol of vitality and royalty.
There are many names for ruby in Sanskrit, which show it was clearly the stone Hindus valued the most. Some examples are: ratnaraj ‘king of precious stones’ and ratnanayaka, ‘leader of precious stones’. Each of the Hindu castes was assigned a particular type of ruby that they could wear. The padmarâga ‘red as the lotus’ was the Brahmin ruby, and conferred safety upon the owner allowing him to ‘dwell without fear in the midst of enemies’.
In Burma, source of the best rubies, the ruby amulet is not worn in a ring or pendant but must be inserted in the esh, according to Taw Sein Ko’s Burmese Necromancy. By becoming part of the wearer it will ‘confer invulnerability’ to sword, spear or gun.
The glow within the ruby seems like an inextinguishable ame, which may be why these stones are used to promote cheer and overcome depression, preserving the bodily and mental health of the wearer. There is more than enough medical evidence nowadays that good ‘cheer’ and a positive outlook can do wonders for the immune system, so ruby lovers were already onto a good thing. But this is the least that you can expect from the ruby because the ever-glowing re spirit within ‘removed evil thoughts, controlled amorous desires, dissipated pestilential vapours and reconciled disputes’. In other words the ruby contained a spiritual re that quenched all those other striving desires, and cooled overheated minds and bodies. Thus they give the wearer a contented mind, wisdom of the spirit, and through meditation, the ability to focus the healing powers of the universe.
In terms of their more prosaic usage, Sanskrit medical texts from the 13th century CE advised rubies for atulence and biliousness, although I’m not sure how the stones should be applied. The stone was also used to relieve pain and fever, blood ailments, and disorders of liver, spleen and heart – an understandable connection considering its colour. Like the emerald, it was also considered an antidote to poison.
There was a mysterious ‘ruby elixir’ of great potency that could be created by adept physicians who knew how to use gemstones in compounding medicine.
Through the ages the ruby has developed into a symbol of royalty, dignity, zeal, power, love, passion, beauty, and longevity (all qualities appropriate enough for Leo, the zodiacal sign attributed to the ruby).
The ancient astrologers actually assigned the yellow ruby as the stone for Leo, which, in truth, would be a sapphire – but back then they were calling lapis lazuli a sapphire. It’s a good thing we have tidied up all the confusion and can say that while onyx is now considered the gemstone for Leo, the ruby is the modern birthstone for July. However, even this role was not consistent across most cultures – only the Polish and Russian held to the idea that the ruby was the stone for July. But, let’s stop here and rest with the currently held designations lest I confuse you more.
If you are thinking of acquiring a ruby, keep in mind that as a pendant it can be an amulet for combating depression and sorrow, while a ruby ring gives knowledge, health and wealth.
Rubies are 8 on the Mohs scale and so are excellent stones for claw- set rings. However, many rubies are heavily included and this can make them prone to break or crack.
And now for the geology:
Ruby is the mineral corundum composed of aluminium oxide, and is an accessory mineral (meaning it grows with or within) of igneous rock, under-saturated with silica, as well as metamorphic rocks, poor in silica and rich in aluminium.
Corundum is actually used industrially for emery papers and other grinding applications, so is quite a common mineral. However, the crystals of ruby grow when basic corundum has a different experience - a little more heat, a different time span, and other vital ingredients that differentiate the gem from the dross. It is the chromium impurities in the corundum that in the right conditions, yield the pink or red tint of the ruby.
The largest and nest ‘pigeon’s blood’ rubies come from the marbles of Mogok in Myanmar – these are the famous Burmese rubies. They are also found in alluvial deposit on the Malay Peninsula, and in Sri Lanka, as well as Tanzania and Brazil.