July birthstone ~ Ruby
The idea of “birthstones” or a gemstone for specific months made its way into the Judeo-Christian tradition through the description of the breastplate of Aaron, the High Priest, in Exodus 28 and 39. Over the centuries theologians have debated the importance and symbolism of these gems, and even the identity about what specifically some of the gems may have been. (Read more about this in our post on the origins of symbolic gifts for birthdays and anniversaries.)
One gem about which there is no confusion is the ruby, or Stone of Judah, which has been recognized for milennia. Rubies are a variety of corundum, the second-hardest mineral after the diamond. When corundum is any color other than red, it is considered a sapphire. (The word ruby comes from the Latin, ruber, which means “red”.) Rubies range in color from an orangey-red to almost purple, but the most valued rubies are a deep, true red.
Due to the Bible’s description of rubies it became a favored gemstone among the hierarchy of the church; Martin Luther’s engagement ring is said to have contained a ruby. According to a 14th-century gemology text, a ruby “acquires and maintains the power of rulers, it procures peace and agreements, it makes man devoted to God, it appeases anger and maintains seductions, it makes the person wearing them safe from all dangers.”
There is a history beautiful symbolism embodied in the ruby. See our selection of birthstone gift suggestions for July.