The ancient king of gems is once again enjoying a sensational rise to power thanks to today’s cult of connoisseurship. The ruby has become the most sought-after colored gemstone at a time when color dominates the market and rarity drives it.
What makes the ruby so exceptional is not only the limited supply of unheated specimens, but also the stone’s associations with regal splendor and its blazing color: that of passion, and of luck in Asia.
This spring particularly, after vibrant color raged at Paris Couture, and as a contemporary classicism shapes high jewelry collections, the majestic ruby is again ready to radiate.
For centuries, the most desirable rubies of extraordinary hue have come from the heritage mines of Mogok, in Myanmar, the world’s main source of rubies. Enveloped in myth and mystique, legend imbued the ruby with supernatural properties, linked to peace, power, leadership, and invincibility. Burmese warriors wore them into battle, sometimes embedded in the skin.
The biggest stones were the prerogative of the ruler, yet rubies were traded along the Silk Road, and later by merchant-adventurers such as Tavernier and Edwin Streeter, to take their place in noble collections, including those of Catherine the Great, Empress Joséphine, Queen Victoria, and Empress Eugénie.