The luscious ruby has for centuries been one of the most sought after and admired gems. Along with diamond, emerald and sapphire it forms the 4 “precious” gems.
As some of you may know, ruby and sapphire are actually the same mineral (corundum – from the Tamil word Kuruvindam). Red corundum is ruby and the rest are sapphire.
It’s found in many places around the world – but most famously in Burma. Happily, for ethical reasons there are other options. Tanzania, Malawi and Sri Lanka all offer excellent choices. (See my previous blog about sapphires for info on Sri Lanka’s mining practices.)
I source my Tanzanian rubies from a fantastic company called Ruby Fair who have taken ethical sapphire and ruby mining to Tanzania. Ruby Fair is a partnership between British jewellers and Tanzanian miners where both the miners’ welfare, the environment and ecology of the land and the final quality of the gemstones are all given careful consideration. I can source my sapphires safe in the knowledge that both the miners and the land are given due care and reward and I thank them for it!
Malawian rubies come from the Chimwadzulu mine in the southern African county of Malawi. I source them through another great company called Columbia Gem House.
Columbia Gem House has extensive contracts with mine operators around the world. Its mining partners agree to support the company’s efforts to safeguard workers, the environment, and the integrity of the gems they produce. In fact, Columbia Gem House was one of the first jewellery industry companies to join the Fair Trade movement. Founder and director Eric Braunwart puts it beautifully: “This is what romancing the stone really means – making sure that people and the earth are treated with respect, and so that gemstones bring positive emotions to the lives of everyone who touch them.”
Finally, and a little more practically, rubies are hard little nuggets. They rate 9 on the Mohs scale (Diamond is the only thing harder at 10). Which makes them not only beautiful, ethical but durable too…perfect for an engagement ring.