The name Ruby derives from the Latin ruber, quite simply meaning ‘red’.
When molten rock cools slowly under the earth’s surface, coarse-grained igneous rocks are formed. A mineral called corundum forms inside these rocks and chills into crystals. In its purest form, corundum is colourless. Trace elements that become part of the mineral’s crystal structure cause variations in colour. Whilst the presence of iron and titanium are what cause corundum to become sapphire, chromium is the trace element that creates the red ruby, which ranges in hue from a terracotta orange through to a deep purplish magenta.
The strength of ruby’s red depends on the volume of chromium present - the more chromium, the more powerful the red hue. Chromium can also cause fluorescence, which adds to the intensity of the red shade.
Red is the colour of our most intense emotions: love, anger and passion. It has been said that the ruby's red glow is caused by an internal flame that cannot be extinguished, making a gift of this stone symbolic of everlasting love. Early cultures treasured rubies for their similarity to the blood flowing through their veins, believing that they held the power of life. It’s for these reasons that rubies have long been a popular pick for engagement rings.
Rubies can command the highest per-carat price of any coloured stone. On the 12th May 2015, a ring set with a breath-taking 25.59ct ruby sold for a whopping $1,266,901 (£810 per carat), setting a new world record at auction for a coloured gemstone.
Rubies have long been associated with power, wealth and luxury. In European folklore, possessing a ruby purportedly benefits and protects the owner’s estates and assists in the accumulation of wealth.
In Sanksrit, ruby is ratnaraj,meaning ‘King of Gems’. The Bible claims that ruby was the most precious of the twelve stones created by God when He created all things. Ancient Hindus believed that those who offered fine rubies to Krishna were granted rebirth as emperors.
Ruby has accumulated a host of legends over the centuries. People in India believed that rubies enabled their owners to live in peace with their enemies. In Burma (a ruby source since at least 600 AD, now called Myanmar), warriors possessed rubies to grant them invincibility in battle. However, it wasn’t enough to simply wear the rubies; they had to insert them into their flesh and make them a part of their bodies.
Ruby retained its importance with the birth of the western world and became one of the most sought-after gems of European royalty and the upper classes. Many medieval Europeans wore rubies to guarantee health, wealth, wisdom and success in love.
Beautiful, ethically-sourced rubies are found glowing across our engagement collections, from the sumptuous scarlet sparkler in our Athena ring to the splendid rose-pink gem in our flashy Efflorescence ring.
The rubies we use in our jewels are mined using best practice principles, with minimal environmental impact, fair labour conditions and community benefit of the utmost importance. They’re sourced primarily from Chimwadzulu Hill Mine in Malawi, which practises fair trade principles that safeguard workers and the environment. Mining is only permissible for half of the year in order to protect local wildlife habitats and bodies of water. The mine supports its 70 employees by offering above-average wages and health care - as well as a recently-built medical clinic and an elementary school - and is a significant contributor to the local economy.