The Ruby

Although traditionally the ruby has been considered just one of the four great precious stones (alongside emeralds, diamonds and sapphires), in recent years it has taken a starring role in jewelry collections. According to the author Joanna Hardy, who spent three years researching a new book on the subject, the ruby’s rise to prominence has been driven primarily by scarcity. Where once fine rubies could be readily discovered in Burma, Thailand and Cambodia, today supplies are running out – which partly explains the record prices reached at auction, which have exceeded those of diamonds, per carat. Jewelers today are now having to look as far afield as Mozambique to find stones; and while many of these are not as big as elsewhere, they are 700 million years old (compared with Burma’s 50 million). Rubies come in a variety of colors, from vibrant pinks – such as the 4.3-carat Burmese stone from Boodles pictured here – and dark blood red to a glossy pomegranate shade, known in the trade as “pigeon’s blood”. And the ultimate ruby? “The Graff 8.62ct ruby, says Hardy. “It shines like a beacon even in low light – and stones of such fine quality are extremely rare. The Van Cleef & Arpels Peony Clip is also stunning: it’s as close to being perfect as a hand-crafted jewel can be.”