About Ruby

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Keep reading to discover more about ruby

  • Mineralogy and geology*
  • Metaphysical, Spiritual and Healing** Properties***
  • Common Associations

Mineralogy and Geology of Ruby

Mineral formula: Al2O (a variety of corundum)

Mineral group: member of the Hematite group

Crystal system: trigonal

Crystal habit: Often steep pyramidal; rounded, barrel-shaped crystals varying from short prismatic with a large base to steep pyramidal. Less commonly, flat tabular or rhombohedral.

Cleavage: none

Fracture: irregular / uneven, conchoidal

Color: blood red; to be gemstone, must be clear as well. The red color is due to minor amounts of Cr replacing Al in the crystal structure. Pink corundum is called pink sapphire.

Luster: vitreous, adamantine, pearly

Diaphaneity: translucent

Moh’s scale hardness: 9

Streak: none

Specific gravity: 3.98 – 4.1

Named after:  its color, via Old French rubi, from medieval Latin rubinus, from the base of Latin rubeus ‘red’. Undoubtedly the name was applied to other clear, red gemstones such as garnets and red spinels.

Geological occurrence: found in silica-poor rocks, such as Nepheline-Syenites, alkali igneous undersaturated rocks, contact aureoles in altered aluminous shales, aluminous xenoliths in high temperature plutonic and hypabyssal rocks, metamorphosed bauxite deposits, and as a detrital material in sediments.

Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum; corundum also occurs in shades of pink (termed pink sapphire) through all intermediate shades of pink-red. Many rubies are heat-treated to improve their clarity, color, or both. It was believed by ancient Hindu and Burmese miners that colorless or pale pink sapphires were rubies that had not completely ripened.            

In Sanskrit, ruby is known as ratnaraj, "king of precious stones".  Rubies tend to be small (stones more than 10 carats are unusual) as the presence of chromium has an inhibiting effect on crystal growth--hence the high value of large rubies. Star rubies occur (as do star sapphires); the asterism moves across the cabochon in a silky matrix, the silky appearance is due to rutile inclusions that have an orientation.

Geology and Uses

Historically rubies came from Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, India, and Namibia; newer economic deposits have been found in Madagascar, Tanzania and the region around Nepal-Pakistan-Tibet. In the US, rubies have been found in North Carolina, Montana and Wyoming. Like other varieties of corundum, ruby forms in igneous rocks where there is abundant alumina and usually less silica, typically in nepheline syenites. Other geologic settings include metamorphism of alumina-rich shales or bauxites. Due to their hardness, rubies (along with sapphires) do not weather, so they are found in alluvial or placer deposits, downstream from their source rocks. For a more detailed account of the geology of rubies, click HERE.

Rubies tend to be small (stones more than 10 carats are unusual), so large ones are rare and command a high price. As one of the “cardinal” gemstones, the high demand for ruby stimulated the creation of synthetic stones. The first synthetic rubies were made in 1837. The first commercially viable process was perfected by Frenchman August Verneuil around 1903. 

In addition to their use in jewelry, the hardness of ruby makes it valuable in industrial processes requiring durability of surfaces, such as abrasives, or moving parts in clock works. The relatively simple chemistry and crystallography of ruby makes them suitable as lasers and masers. The first ruby laser was made by Theodore Maiman in 1960 using a rod of synthetic ruby. 

Is there ruby in New Mexico? Probably not. Some tourist-oriented shops selling jewelry may display and sell “New Mexico rubies” – these are pyrope garnet, another clear, dark red gemstone, but not even close to genuine ruby in gemological value. Read more about this HERE

Ruby Trivia

  • A beautiful article on the world’s most famous rubies courtesy of Galerie Magazine, click HERE
  • The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History has some amazing rubies. One of the most famous is the Carmen Lucia ruby ring, a 1 carat Burmese ruby flanked by two triangular diamonds, set in platinum, donated by Peter Buck in honor of his wife, Carmen. Read more HERE.
  • In 2011, the price-per-carat record for rubies was broken by the sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s ruby jewelry – a ring with an 8.24 ct gem, and a necklace. The prices were $512,925 PER CARAT.
  • The Liberty Bell Ruby was carved from the largest mined ruby in the world. It was stolen in a heist in 2011 and has never been recovered.
  • The Sunrise Ruby is classified as the world's most expensive ruby, most expensive colored gemstone, and most expensive gemstone other than a diamond. In May 2015, it sold at auction in Switzerland to an anonymous buyer for US$30 million. 


Metaphysical, Spiritual, and Healing** Properties***

Ruby has many metaphysical, spiritual and healing properties:

  • Known as the “stone of nobility,” ruby gathers and amplifies energy, especially supporting mental concentration and discernment. This aids in resolving disputes with gentleness.
  • Ruby shields and protects on all levels, safeguarding from psychic attack
  • Ruby helps to overcome tendencies to martyrdom, releasing any need or desire to experience anguish and suffering.
  • Ruby promotes financial stability
  • Ruby can help one to find and birth the spark of light that leads the way out of the shadow, promoting creativity. 

Feng Shui of Ruby

Minerals placed in the home or work environment with intention can enhance that energy. The art of feng shui helps to understand how certain parts of your home or work place can benefit from the placement of objects. 

As one of the most valued and expensive of all gemstones, ruby works well in the wealth area of the home or workspace. The xun sector of the bagua is located in the far left corner opposite the entrance to your home. Placing ruby in that area with intent will support manifestation of abundance.

In the feng shui bagua, the Fame area (li) is associated with fire and the color red, both aspects of ruby’s energy. When standing in the entrance of your house, Li is located in the third directly across from and farthest from the door. Place ruby in this area with the intention of being “seen” and your value recognized by others.

To bring the energy of fire to your overall health, place ruby in the center of your home; this brings fire, in balance, to all areas of your life.

Wearing Ruby

Historically ruby jewelry has been prohibitively expensive - in gemology, only clear, deep red ruby is considered to be a gemstone. Fortunately, there’s lots of ruby on the market these days that is not clear but still beautiful, giving rise to affordable ruby jewelry. Worn anywhere on the body, ruby jewelry supports your heart and provides protection and joyful energy.

To support your heart chakra and psychic abilities, consider a pendant made with ruby-in-zoisite (also called anyolite), as the green of the zoisite also resonates with the heart chakra. Earrings and rings made of ruby or ruby-in-zoisite also support the overall health of the heart chakra.

Ruby for Grids and Rituals

Ruby is a form of corundum, and its crystal structure is trigonal. According to Kiera Fogg in her book Crystal Gridwork, trigonal crystals are most appropriate in crystal grids as seeker crystals, ones that help find and attract new energies. In the sample grids in her book, you can substitute ruby crystals (or jewelry) any place she has used amethyst, quartz, rose quartz, citrine, blue lace agate, aventurine or tigers eye. Ruby’s symbolic association with ever-burning love and wealth supports its use in grids focusing on heart-based love or manifesting abundance of any type.

The book Crystal Muse, authors Heather Askinosie and Timmi Jandro provide many examples of working with stones in ritual. The “Opening your heart to your shadow” ritual incorporates ruby-in-zoisite as an aid to transforming “negative” to “positive” energy. Ruby can also substitute for other stones with heart associations.

Ruby History and Lore

Ruby has been mined from the gem gravels of Sri Lanka since 18th century BC.  Its beauty led it to be one of the most sought-after gems of European and other royalty and the upper classes. Many medieval Europeans wore rubies to guarantee health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love. In Sanskrit, ruby is known as ratnaraj, "king of precious stones".  Rubies are mentioned four times in the Bible, in association with attributes like beauty and wisdom.

Other ruby lore includes:

  • the glowing red of ruby symbolizes an inextinguishable flame burning in the stone, shining through clothing, and reputed to be able to boil water.
  • People in India believed that rubies enabled their owners to live in peace with their enemies.
  • In Burma ruby was a talisman of good fortune, bestowing invincibility to warriors who possessed rubies 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. 
  • Hindus divided ruby into four castes, calling the true Oriental ruby a Brahmin. Someone in possession of a Brahmin was believed to have the advantage of perfect safety. Ancient Hindus believed that those who offered fine rubies to the god Krishna were granted rebirth as emperors.
  • In classical antiquity, rubies were reputed to banish sorrow, restrain lust, and resist poison.
  • Other early cultures treasured rubies for their symbolism of blood, so it was used in the preparation of medicines to staunch bleeding
  • In Islam, after Adam was expelled from paradise and arrived in Mecca, he was shown a ruby canopy under which lay a glowing stone--a meteorite. He was instructed to build the Kaaba over this site.

Associations for  Ruby

  • Color – bright clear to opaque red, sometimes pinkish
  • Chakras – heart and root
  • Numerology - vibrates to the number 3
  • Planets – Mars,
  • Zodiac – Aries, Cancer, Leo, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Pig
  • Bagua – Fame (li), wealth (xun)
  • Elements – fire
  • Birthstone - July
  • Wedding Anniversary – 40th


* Mineralogical information is from mindat.org

** Always consult with your medical professional for any physical or long-term healing issues.

*** Metaphysical properties come from: 

Love Is in the Earth (1995) Melody, Earth-Love Publishing House, 726 pp.

The Crystal Bible, A Definitive Guide to Crystals (2003) Judy Hall, Walking Stick Press, 399 pp.

Crystal Muse (2017) Heather Askinosie and Timmi Jandro, Hay House, 285 pp.

Crystal Gridwork (2018) Kiera Fogg, Weiser Books, 128 pp.