Rubies are one of the hardest and luxuriously appeasing gemstones. Originally sourced in the Mogok Valley in Upper Myanmar (Burma) since 600AD, rubies have historically been held in high esteem, particularly within Asian countries. Used to decorate armour, scabbards and harnesses of Indian and Chinese noblemen, rubies were believed to surpass all other precious gemstones including diamonds; a talisman symbolising passion, protection and prosperity.
Traditionally, in Burma, warriors possessed rubies to make them invincible in battle. However, it wasn’t enough to just wear the rubies. They had to insert them into their flesh and make them part of their bodies for the true source of invincibility.
Ruby retained its importance into the western world and became one of the most popular gemstones to European royalty and subsequent upper classes. Many medieval Europeans wore rubies to guarantee health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love. So symbolic was its association that even the Chinese Emperor, Kublai Khan, was allegedly said to have offered an entire city in exchange for a sizable ruby.
Below are our favourite fascinating facts rubies have accumulated historically:
- In 2004, based in Washington DC, USA, businessman and philanthropist, Peter Buck, donated a 23.1 carat Burmese ruby, set in a platinum ring with diamonds,in memory of his late wife, Carmen Lúcia.
- In December 2011 Elizabeth Taylor's complete jewellery collection was auctioned by Christie's including several ruby-set pieces. One definable ring set with an 8.24 carat ruby broke the 'price-per-carat' record for rubies ($512,925 dollars per carat) and together with a necklace, sold for over $3.7 million.
- The Liberty Bell Ruby was the largest mined ruby in the world but was stolen in a heist in 2011.
- The Sunrise Ruby is the world's most expensive ruby. In May 2015, it sold at auction in Switzerland to an anonymous buyer for $30 million dollars.
- A synthetic ruby crystal became the world's first optical laser, conceived, designed and constructed by Theodore H. Maiman in 1961 at the Hughes Research Laboratories. The Ruby Laser was the first device to work at optical wavelengths and is still in working order even today.
We don’t need ruby slippers to make us feel at home, we need the stone itself!