The ruby is named for its red colour, “rubens or ruber” in Latin, and has for millennia been considered one of the most valuable gemstones on earth. They are extremely rare and ones of fine quality more valuable than diamonds. From the corundum family of gems, of which sapphires are a variety, only red corundum is entitled to be called a ruby, all others are classified as sapphires – hence pink sapphires.
Rubies have long been associated with royalty and the church (one of the cardinal gems) and are held in high esteem in Asian countries. In the ancient language of Sanskrit, ruby is called ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones.” Not surprisingly then, the ruby is (or was) a symbol of power and wealth.
Mined in Thailand, India and Africa, more recently, large deposits of rubies have been discovered under the receding ice shelf of Greenland. However, Burmese rubies are considered the best – the highest valued ruby is the “Burmese ruby”, which displays a rich red colour with a slight bluish tint.