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A Guide to the History of Ruby: 10 Legends and Myths

4 min read

Rubies are steeped in history and folklore. How many of these myths and legends do you know?

1 – Ruby Associations

Rubies are associated with love, anger, passion, danger, and romance.

2 – Rubies in Religious Texts

Rubies are mentioned four times in the Bible. Ruby was said to be the most precious of the 12 stones created by God. Hindus regarded Rubies as the most valued gem. It was called ‘Ratnaraj’, meaning ‘king of the precious Gems’, and later ‘ratnanayaka’, meaning ‘leader of all precious stones’. In the Harita Smriti, it is written that ‘He who worships Krishna with Rubies will be reborn as a powerful emperor’.

3 – Rubies and Blood

Rubies have long been associated with blood. Among Burmese soldiers, it was believed that wearing a Ruby on the left would make the wearer invincible. This belief was so strong that some soldiers inserted Rubies into their flesh under the skin. They then were believed to be safe from wounds, and were said to be very fierce in battle as well.

The idea that Rubies protected from wounds had a flip side as well. Soldiers believed that Ruby bullets would inflict more harm. There are instances of this belief as late as the early 1900s.

4 – Rubies and Healing

Rubies were said to have many healing benefits as well. The famous gem explorer George Frederick Kunz wrote in his profoundly influential text The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, that ‘Rubies… were thought to be sovereign remedies for haemorrhages of all kinds, as well as for all inflammatory diseases; they were also believed to exercise a calming influence and to remove anger and discord.’

‘Rubies… were thought to be sovereign remedies for haemorrhages of all kinds, as well as for all inflammatory diseases; they were also believed to exercise a calming influence and to remove anger and discord.’

5 – Created by Fire

It was said that Rubies were created by fire. This belief was so strong that it was thought that if you cast a Ruby into water, the liquid would boil. Kunz wrote that ‘the flashing and ruddy light of the ruby suggested an igneous origin, and induced the belief that Rubies were generated by a fire from heaven, in other words, by the lightning flash.’

6 – Glowing Rubies

A 16th Century legend has been passed down which says that a Ruby was once left under a tablecloth, the Ruby’s owner came into the room in the dark and saw the Ruby glowing under the cloth. When he took the Ruby out, it returned to normal.

7 - Protection

Rubies have long been associated with protecting one’s assets. In 1365, Sir John Mandeville wrote a book of his travels and wrote that he’d heard that ‘Once a man had touched the four corners of his land with his Ruby, then his house, vineyard and orchard would be protected from lightning, tempests and poor harvest’.

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8 – Male and Female

The ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus (371-287 BC) wrote that Rubies could be male or female. The ‘male’ stones were darker and more brilliant than the ‘female’ stones, which are lighter with a weaker lustre.

9 - Clairvoyance

Even to this day, some jewellers may have heard stories of Rubies foretelling calamities. Some people have said that Rubies can change colour or grow dull to warn of impending disaster.

10 – Associations of Red

Whether or not you believe any of Ruby’s legendary properties, its red colour has some strong associations. The relatively new science of Colour Psychology associates certain colours with certain emotions. Ruby red is supposed to evoke feelings of lust, power, excitement, and love. Sports teams who wear red consistently perform better on average than teams in other colours. It is thought that this is because humans have evolved to associate red with power and aggression.

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