• Antiques in Oxford

July Birthstone: Ruby


Ruby is July’s birthstone,

Ruby takes its name from the Latin word ‘rubeus’ for ‘red’. Ruby is the red variety of the ‘corundum’ family, with all other coloured corundum known as sapphires. Important locations for ruby include, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, these are also the varieties most highly sought after.

Burmese rubies are highly prized for their ‘pigeon blood’ red hue, these rubies can demand extremely high prices per carat more than any other variety. Ruby mining goes back over 2500 years in Sri Lanka and India, historical records indicate that rubies were being sold along the Silk route in China as early as 200 B.C. Chinese warriors adorned their swords with rubies for protection.

Rubies are such desirable gemstones due to their amazing colour. They come in a variety of hues ranging from light pinkish reds. They can also be free from inclusions and have very clean tones. Due to their hardness they can have a high lustre.


Rubies are mentioned in the Bible four times. They also feature in the ancient text ‘Natural History’, written by the Roman scholar Pliny, where he describes the ruby’s impressive hardness and density. Queen Elizabeth received a dazzling array of high quality rubies as a wedding gift from the country of Burma. Later, in the 1970s, she had her ‘Burmese Ruby Tiara’ created and named it in honour of the gift from the Burmese people.

In the “Wizard of Oz,” ruby slippers protected Dorothy from evil forces. Harry Winston produced a pair of ruby and diamond slippers to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the film, later selling for $3 million dollars.


Rubies are often gifted for a 40th wedding anniversary to represent passion and devotion.

The world’s largest mined ruby, the ‘Liberty Bell’, was discovered in the 1950s in Africa. Weighing 8,500 carats the ruby was sculpted into a smaller version of the Liberty Bell, sadly this was stolen during a jewellery heist and to this day is still missing.


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