Your birthstone is Ruby, a pinkish-red to an orangy-red colored gemstone that is a variety of the mineral corundum. Sapphire is also a variety of the mineral corundum but if the colour is dominant red, it is called Ruby.

Ruby is one of the most coveted of gemstones. The name is derived from the Latin word ruber, meaning “red” – the color of love and passion. It is a very eye-catching stone! The finest color of the birthstone is a deep red with a hint of purple, called “pigeon’s blood” in the trade. Ruby gets its colour from trace amounts of the element chromium. The more chromium, the stronger the red.

In ancient India, ruby was called the “king of precious stones” for its rarity, hardness, beauty, and seemingly “mystical” powers. Long associated with the life force blood, ruby was a symbol of power and youthful energy in Indian jewelry. In past centuries, some believed this birthstone cured inflammatory diseases and soothed anger. Burmese warriors believed it made them invincible in battle. Medieval Europeans maintained that rubies bestowed health, wisdom, wealth, and success in love.

One of the oldest recorded sources of fine rubies is in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. For more than five centuries, the Mogok area in Myanmar has produced some of the most sought-after stones with vibrant red colour. Vietnam is another important source of rubies. The Luc Yen region in northern Vietnam produces rubies of red to purplish-red color. Farther south, the Quy Chau district has also yielded many fine rubies. To this day, artisanal miners in Vietnam work the soil in hopes of finding a gem that will change their lives and fortunes. Mozambique is an important new source for rubies. This African nation is home to the prolific mines at Montepuez, where rubies found there have been compared to the famed gems of Mogok.

In the late 1900s, the ruby deposits along the border between Thailand and Cambodia were the major source of rubies in the marketplace. Other important producers of rubies include Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, and Madagascar.

Rubies are often heat-treated to remove purplish coloration, leaving a purer red. The process can also remove minute needle-like inclusions that can cause a gem to appear lighter in tone and be more opaque. The trade typically accepts heat treatment, as it is stable to normal conditions of wear and care.

In most cases, the July birthstone can be safely cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe for untreated, heat-treated, and lattice diffusion–treated stones. Glass-filled or dyed stones should only be cleaned with a damp cloth. If you are uncertain about cleaning your Ruby, bring it to your jewellery store for a professional cleaning.

Ruby is also the gemstone for a 40th wedding anniversary.