June 30th, 2015
Over the centuries, they have captured the imaginations not just of lovers but of mighty rulers as well. In fact, in ancient India where rubies were said to originate, whenever a new ruby was discovered, the Maharajahs would send out their most important officials to escort it back to the palace. (What happened to the poor guy who dug it up is not recorded.)
So for thousands of years, the ruby has been considered one of the most valuable gemstones on Earth. It’s got the color. It’s got the hardness. It’s got the sheer brilliance. It’s got the cache of being among the rarest gemstones.
But ‘ruby’ is not the ruby’s real name. ‘Ruby’ comes from the Latin word for ‘red’: rubens. The ruby is actually a variety of corundum, one of the hardest minerals on Earth. Pure corundum is colourless. Nature mixes traces of other minerals like iron, vanadium, titanium and chrome to produce colored gems. And only the red corundum can be called a ruby. All the other colors we call sapphires. That’s right. The relationship is very close, but sapphires—not being red—are not as valuable as rubies. It was only relatively recently that this relationship became known. Up until the 19th century, spinels, or red garnets, were wrongly called rubies. Meaning that among the English Crown Jewels there are some ruby-imposters: The ‘Black Ruby’ and the ‘Timur Ruby’ are actually spinels. I won’t tell the Queen if you don’t.
But back to my brother. He had this crazy idea to re-name the month of July the month of Ruby. In fact, he proposes replacing the names of ALL the months with the names of their birthstones, which at first sounds kinda nuts. Think about it though. Could be a lot of fun.
“Hey Mike, what are you doing for the fourth of Ruby’”.
“I think I’ll take my vacation in Peridot instead of Sapphire.”
“The Boys of Tourmaline are in the World Series!!”