The ruby is one of the four precious gemstones, and is also the birthstone for July. It can be linked directly to the sapphire in that both stones come from the same mineral: corundum. Rubies usually result from the addition of chromium within the corundum, which gives it its distinctive red color. A single stone can appear slightly different shades of red, as it is a pleochroic stone able to reflect light in various shades.
Despite being restricted to only red colored corundum, the Ruby can come in a variety of shades from pink to bright scarlet red. The reddest of these, known as Pigeon's Blood, is considered the most desirable and highest valued of vibrant shades. This type is most often found in Myanmar, but only in small quantities, making it rarer still. Rubies are most commonly found in the Far East, followed by the Middle East and parts of Africa. They are not limited to these regions, however, as a sizeable deposit was discovered in Greenland and smaller collections have been located within the United States. One of the largest Tuby specimens in known existence now resides in Washington DC, with the National Museum of Natural History. Found in Myanmar nearly 80 years ago, it weighs in at 23.1 carats and is pinkish-red in color. Ruby is classified as the second hardest naturally occurring gemstone according to the Mohs Scale, runner-up only to the diamond.
While they come in several varieties, including the stunning Burmese Ruby, the Star Ruby, and Pigeon's Blood Ruby, the most fascinating might be the Fuschite Ruby and the Zoisite Ruby. The former is a vivid Ruby naturally formed within green fuschite, while the latter is Ruby naturally encased within zoisite. Neither is worth as much as a pure Ruby, but hold collector’s value. Like many gemstones, all Rubies contains at the least a trace amount of imperfections, which makes it easier for experts to determine the authenticity of a stone, as synthetics do not possess these tiny faults. These imperfections can affect value, but color is held in higher regard, having more of an impact on a Ruby's ultimate value.