Ruby is a form of corundum (aluminium oxide) with a distinctive red color produced by an admixture of chromium trioxide. The exact shade of red varies between pink and brownish red and these shades are often named after the regions in which they are usually found. The majority of high quality natural ruby today comes from Myanmar (formerly Burma).
Corundum of other colours is called sapphire. Light red corundum is known as "pink sapphire". The borderline between pink sapphire and true ruby can sometimes be difficult to determine. It has been said to depend on whether you are tryng to buy or sell the stone.
The ruby is one of the hardest stones in nature, second only to the diamond, but can still be chipped or fractured if improperly handled.
The name "ruby" comes from the Latin rubeus meaning "red", The Sanskrit word for the ruby is ratnaraj ("queen of gems") or ratnayaka ("first of gems"). Most of its mythological associations stem fom its color. The ruby is considered a stone of power and passion. It is supposed to bestow energy and will power. The homes of the gods were sometimes said to be lit by the glow of rubies and rubies the color of pigeon blood were referred to as being drops of the blood of mother Earth herself.
Ruby was traditionally associated with health and long life. The alchemists adopted the "perfect ruby" as a symbol of the philosopher's stone or elixir of life. According to Ben Jonson:
He that has once the flower of the sun,
The perfect ruby which we call elixir
Not only can do that, but, by its virtue
Can confer honour, love, respect, long life,
Give safety, valour, ya, and victory,
To whom he will.
The Alchemist II-i
Various cultures have referred to the value of rubies. It said to be one of the stones in the Breastplate of Aaron, the High Priest. It is written in Proverbs 31:10, a virtuous wife’s worth is “far above rubies.”
“Rubies” has also been translated as jewels and precious stones, depending on the source. Aryuvedic traditions believe these Rubies strengthen the heart, restore balance in both love and spiritual relationships, and help to prevent miscarriages.
Modern ruby lore suggests that the man who gives a woman an engagement ring with a ruby expresses passionate love. The blood red color of rubies symbolizes the heart. Hence, rubies are today the stone most associated with love.
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