July – Ruby
Ruby – that vivid red stone with an inner fire, beloved of Indian princes, European monarchs and Hindu gods. Its colour – which varies from a gentle pink to rich crimson – led to many mistakes in identification.
Medievil gemmologists had problems distinguishing between different red stones it was not until the 19th century that rubies and sapphire were finally identified as part of the family of gemstones known as Corundum.
Rubies, in common with other red stones, were used to reduce swelling and to calm temper and remove anger. Ruby was also considered to protect the wearer against tiredness and was used to give energy to the wearer. However, the ruby was also reputed to have special powers to warn of impending doom. It was thought to change colour, losing its wonderful red fire when misfortune threatened. A 17th century jeweller records that his own ruby ring, normally a vivid and fiery red, suddenly became dull and remembering the legend he removed it from his finger – only to discover that the stone had just as suddenly regained its brilliance. On closer examination, the jeweller noted that a drop of water had penetrated the setting and once it had evaporated, the red glowing fire returned to the stone. Needless to say, no misfortune occurred!