A ruby is a pink to purplish-red colored gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum. All other varieties of gem-quality corundum are called sapphires. 
ruby roughThe word ruby comes from Latin ruber (red). The color of a ruby is due to the element chromium.
Rubies have a hardness of 9.0 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Among the natural gems only moissanite and diamond are harder, with diamond having a Mohs hardness of 10.0 and moissanite falling somewhere in between corundum (ruby) and diamond in hardness.

The brightest and most valuable shade of red called blood-red or pigeon blood, commands a large premium over other rubies of similar quality. 
All natural rubies have imperfections in them, including color impurities and inclusions of rutile needles known as "silk". Gemologists use these needle inclusions found in natural rubies to distinguish them from synthetics, simulants, or substitutes. 
Usually, the rough stone is heated before cutting. 
Today, almost all rubies are treated in some form, with heat treatment being the most common practice. Untreated rubies of high quality command a large premium, a clear stone will ask a higher price, but a ruby without any needle-like rutile inclusions may indicate that the stone has been treated. 

rough rubyThe Mogok Valley in Upper Myanmar (Burma) was for centuries the world's main source for rubies. That region has produced some exceptional rubies, however in recent years few good rubies have been found. In central Myanmar, the area of Mong Hsu began producing rubies during the 1990s and rapidly became the world's main ruby mining area. Rubies are often evaluated on the basis of their geographic origin.
Ruby is defined to be red. 
All other hues of the gem species corundum are called sapphire. 
The finest ruby is described as being a vivid medium-dark toned red. Pink, orange, and purple are the normal secondary hues in ruby. 

Improving the quality of gemstones by treating them is common practice. Improvements used include color alteration, improving transparency by dissolving rutile inclusions, healing of fractures (cracks) or even completely filling them.
Ruby is the traditional birthstone for July




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