ature has produced crystalline matter in every color of the rainbow. Some of these mineral substances have especially unique properties that can bend and alter light so as to create magic.
In this section we highlight different gems and change the photos and information periodically. The following information on ruby and sapphire appeared in our winter newsletter. We hope that you find it interesting.
Corundum - Ruby and Sapphire
Ruby and sapphire are actually the same material which is properly called corundum. All colors of corundum other than the light to deep reds and purple-reds are classified as sapphire, so sapphire can be pink, yellow, green, orange, violet, or colorless in addition to the commonly known shades of blue. Red and purple-red corundum is classified as ruby. Corundum is the second hardest natural material, second to diamond, and because of its durability, as well as its remarkable beauty, makes an excellent gem for jewelry.
Ruby, known as the lord or gems, has been surrounded by a multitude of legends since ancient times. Wearing a ruby was thought to bring wealth, health, and success in the affairs of the heart. It also gave one the magical ability to live in peace with ones enemies. Large, transparent rubies have always been uncommon. High quality stones are not only rare but very valuable and beautiful.
The finest and most valuable blood-red rubies are called Burma rubies, based on their usual place of origin. The place name designation refers to the quality of a stone rather than its actual place of origin. Other rubies mined in Burma (now called Myammar) which are not of the fine blood-red color are not properly called Burma rubies. Siam or Thai rubies are dark red to brownish red. Ceylon rubies are light red to purplish red. Stones that have ruby color and show an asterism or star when placed under a point source of light are called star rubies. These are polished in a cabochon, not with facets. It is common to give more latitude with regard to color when classifying star rubies. Some colors that would be considered pink sapphire if faceted will be regarded as star rubies when they are cabochons displaying asterism. Rubies are among the most desired and valuable of all the colored gems and have traditionally been the birthstone for July.
Sapphire, the traditional birthstone for September, was thought of as the royal gemstone. It was thought to protect kings from harm and envy. As well as ruby, it was believed to have medicinal properties. It was believed to cure eye diseases. It was said to protect its possesor from poisons and demons.
Place names are also used to classify different qualities of sapphire, but they are less meaningful and less consistent than the classifications for ruby. Kashmir sapphire is the term used for violet-blue stones that are not very transparent. Burma sapphire is used for a fine quality, rich royal blue grade that loses some of its color and appears inky under artificial light. Ceylon sapphire is used for pale grayish blue to light blue-violet, fairly brilliant stones. Montana sapphire describes light blue stones that are very transparent. Australian sapphire is very dark, sometimes somewhat green or violet-blue.
Fancy color sapphires are green, yellow, intense orange to orange-red, violet to purplish-violet, pink, or colorless. Because of the durability of natural corundum and the intense beauty of its various colors, these precious gemstones are especially suitable for jewelry, and on their own can complete a varied and interesting jewelry wardrobe.