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RUBY

Ruby is one of the most prized colored gems available. The most sought-after quality of ruby is its bright red color. Corundum, the main material of ruby, is the second-hardest mineral, after diamond. It is in the same family as sapphire. Inclusions and flaws are fairly common, and many rubies are treated to enhance their color. Only red corundum stones are called rubies. If the color is too light to be called red, it is called a pink sapphire.

A fine ruby was thought to have magical powers. Its color was thought to come from an undying flame inside the stone - or, in some legends, a piece of the planet Mars - and it allowed its owner to live in safety, even in the midst of enemies. It was believed to bring its owner protection and to stop bleeding. In more modern times, ruby has become a symbol of love and passion.

Ruby is July's birthstone. It is a corundum (aluminum oxide), and from the same family as sapphire, with its color coming from chromium. It has a Mohs hardness rating of 9, making it ideal for all types of jewelry – even styles that will take a great deal of wear.