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Gemstones: Discover the beauty of Rubies or Pigeon Blood Rubies

Jacob & Co Infinia Ruby collection

Rubies: Have been mentioned in Bible, worn by royalty through human history and believed to protect ancient warriors in battle, the history of rubies is a story rich in grandeur and mystery. They have been thought to act as a talisman for peace and a promise of wisdom and health for the holder. Rubies are connected with love, passion and power, yet its very existence is still considered to be a geological miracle.

The existence of rubies or how they are formed is yet to be explained by experts and professors around the world. It is believed the rubies to be a type of corundum, which is itself colourless when pure, and turns ruby red when chromium is introduced. There is no definitive explanation as to what condition rubies are created. The rubies considered to be one of the most precious gemstones exist to date, commanding the greatest price per carat of any other gem. Even ancient civilisations recognised their value; the Sanskrit word for ruby, “Ratnaraj”, translates to “King of Precious Stones”. Today, the world's most famous rubies in history can be found in the collection of world-class museums like the Louvre and Smithsonian. The Louvre houses the Anne of Brittany Ruby and, Smithsonian homes to 23.1 carat Carmen Lucia Ruby.

Rubies in jewellery

Rubies' colours make them more valuable than their clarity and they are greatly determined by where the rubies are found. Rubies come in different shades, from vibrant orangey-red to tones that are almost purple in hue. Many of the rubies are sourced and use in jewellery from Thailand, Madagascar, Mozambique, Africa and Myanmar (Burma). African rubies thought to be pinker in hue and Thai rubies leaning toward claret shades. The Mogok Valley in Upper Myanmar (Burma) stands as the world's main source for rubies for centuries. Some exceptional and a few good rubies have been produced and found in this region. Central Myanmar, the area of Mong Hsu became the world's main ruby mining area. Namya (Namyazeik) is the recent area, in the northern state of Kachin in Myanmar have found ruby deposit.

Ruby is the birthstone for July, and the gemstones like garnet, which ruby is pinker than garnet and rhodolite have a similar pinkish hue to most rubies when compared. The colour, cut, and clarity, which, along with carat weight mainly affects the value of the ruby. The brightest red is considered to be the most valuable shade and is called blood-red or pigeon blood, which is highly desired premium over other rubies of similar quality. Similar to diamonds, after rubies' colour follows the clarity, the premium is measured by how clear the stone is, without any needle-like rutile inclusion the stone is considered treated.

Photos: Courtesy of Gubelin Gemmology

Blood-Red or Pigeon blood Rubies

Pigeon blood rubies originated from Burma, and it is said that a perfect ruby colour in that area is the same as the first drops of blood from the nose of a killed pigeon. This is the way locals call the finest and most vivid rubies 'ko-twe' meaning 'pigeon blood' or 'blood-red' or some sources claim that the finest ruby is also the colour of the central point of a pigeon’s eye. There is no official description of the colour attached to the gemstone until recently, 'Pigeon's blood' was a popular way of describing the finest rubies in literature. It is said that not all rubies are red and visually pure and as they have secondary hues like pink, purple and orange-pink is a less saturated version of red while purple and orange are near to red on the colour wheel. The gem must be 51% red at least, to be a designated ruby. It has been said that the colour of the ruby identifies the origin that the rubies belong to. Pigeon's blood rubies also named Burmese rubies, to indicate they originated from Myanma, known as Burma. Burmese rubies tend to have rich red colour with an undertone of blue, adding depth to the robust colour and the pigeon's blood is visually pure vivid red gemstone. This vividness of the ruby can be achived when a purplish red ruby is set in yellow gold so the yellow cancels out the blue undertone.  

An official definition of pigeon’s blood created by The GRS (Gemresearch Swisslab AG) by creating a scale based on the intensity of red in rubies. On a scale of 1 to 4, pigeon’s blood was placed at number 3, or vivid red.

The Ruby Drapery ring from Barocko Collection, Bulgari

Stenzhorn's Chrysantem necklace

A Pear shaped ruby ring, Piaget


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