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JULY BIRTHSTONE

Ruby is the modern, traditional, mystical and ayurvedic gemstone for July, with carnelian being the alternate gemstone .

Deep, glowing red, the ruby is sometimes said to contain the original spark of life, "a drop of the heart's blood of Mother Earth." Stories are told of a magnificent ruby which possessed youth giving properties. When rubbed on the body, this miraculous stone would remove visible signs of aging. Because of its flame color, the ruby was used to make water boil. Powers of the ruby were many: it warded off plagues and pestilence (worn on the left side), made the wearer prudent, drove away melancholy, restrained lust, and ensured good harvests. When the color darkened, the wearer was warned of approaching danger. Inserted in the flesh, it made one strong and invincible.

Rubies were used to guard against the elements, and it was said that if a ruby was touched to the four corners of a house or garden, it would ward off tempest, lightning, and worms. The Burmese believed that rubies "ripened in color" while in the earth. For those born in July, the ruby is their natal gem, and they will find it most beneficial when set in gold. Ruby is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 15th and 40th year.

Ruby is known as the "Lord of the Gems" because of its rarity and beauty. Derived from the Latin word "ruber", it simply means red. Ruby, like sapphire, is a variety of corundum and only exists as a true red in color. The finest color is a vivid, almost pure spectral red with a very faint undertone of blue, as seen in Burmese rubies which are considered the finest.

The highest quality rubies are said to protect their owners from all kinds of misfortune. A fine ruby assured the owner he would live in harmony with his neighbors. It would protect his stature in life, his home and land. Its protective powers were intensified when set in jewelry, and worn on the left side. Many believed rubies possessed an inner flame which burned eternally.

As part of the customary fashioning process, virtually all rubies are heated to permanently improve their color and appearance. As with all gemstones, care should be taken to protect it from scratches and sharp blows.

The finest rubies emanate from Burma, having been mined there since ancient times. Other sources include Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Cambodia, Afghanistan and India.

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