Ruby – July Birthstone Meaning

July is the official month of the ruby. We take a look at this gem’s significance in mythology and modern culture and discover its birthstone meaning.

  • When rubies were discovered
  • Some famous rubies
  • Ruby birthstone meaning, lore & legend
  • What the red colour means
  • Difference between rubies and pink sapphires
  • Where the best rubies come from
  • Ruby anniversary occasions and traditional gifts

Marco Polo’s amazement at the beauty of the ruby

Marco Polo was one of the first history writers to describe the impact that seeing a ruby had on him.

When the Italian merchant sailed to the Island of Ceylon, he was allowed to see the King of Ceylon’s gigantic heirloom ruby gemstone.

Marco Polo was so enthralled by it, he called it “the most precious article that exists in the world”.

These Are the 10 Best Ruby Rings in the UK


Coveted by collectors

700 years later after Marco Polo’s discovery, the ruby is still the most sought after gemstone on earth.

Collected by queens, stolen in heists, and auctioned for millions of pounds, it seems to leave no man or woman indifferent.

Famous rubies

Queen Elizabeth II wearing her rubies
Queen Elizabeth II wearing her rubies
Bohemian crown jewels with large pink ruby via yakub88 /
Bohemian crown jewels with large pink ruby 
Elizabeth Taylor wearing her famous ruby collection

A treasure of legend from the Orient

The ruby was first discovered by man during prehistoric times in Asia. (Even today, the Asian region is the main producer of the world’s best rubies.)

In Eastern mythology, the ruby was said to have legendary powers. Some believed rubies could protect armies from defeat. Others thought it could reveal the presence of poison in food.

Ancient Chinese writers also claimed the ruby could shine and sparkle in the absence of any light.

Ruby encrusted bird statue, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha, Qatar

The red colour of rubies

The ruby is, in fact, a red variety of a mineral called corundum – the very same substance that sapphires are formed from. Corundum is almost as tough as diamonds, but chromium trace elements give it its red colour. The word “ruby” is derived from the Latin word ruber which means “red”.

Different shades of red rubies, via Gemological Institute of America (GIA)


Distinguishing pinkish-red ruby colour from pink sapphires

While all red or dark-pink corundum crystals are called rubies, very pale ones are classified as pink sapphires.


This distinction is often debated, though. Simply because sometimes it is impossible to draw a definite line between light rubies and dark pink sapphires.

As with most gems, their individual beauty is often in the eyes of the beholder.

Ruby birthstone lore

For those born in July, the ruby is considered their “birthstone”. It’s also the gem that astrologists say aligns with the star sign of Cancer.

In European lore, after the ruby was brought over from the Far East, it was said to attract romance, passion and love.

If you’re born in July or under the sign of Cancer, these characteristics are said to multiply by the thousands.

Ruby ring

In many classical texts, the ruby was also attributed with healing properties, especially useful for curing blood, heart and circulatory sicknesses.

In ancient Rome, placing rubies on the body was believed to restore vitality and strength, stimulate good blood circulation, give health in pregnancy, and even help wives not gain weight!

Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers

If you’re a fan of The Wizard of Oz, then you’ll know that rubies have magical powers in popular culture too.

In the film, Dorothy only has to click her heels together three times and say ‘There’s no place like home’ – and she’s back home in Kansas. So even in Hollywood, rubies symbolise love and family.

Dorothy's ruby slippers in The Wizard of Oz

Ruby occasions & gifts

Rubies make meaningful romantic gifts for any loved one in your life.

From ruby eternity rings given for 15th and 40th wedding anniversaries, to sparkling red necklaces gifted on Valentine’s Day, ruby jewellery is an exquisite way to express love.

Ruby jewellery can also provide a symbolic gem for July engagements.

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