The Midas Touch

The Midas Touch

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From the crowns of the kings, moghuls to astrologers and new-born babies, the scintillating red gem pulls attention when tucked in a jewellery piece,+ writes Surekha Kadapa Bose

Scatter a handful of colourful, precious stones of equal size and ask anyone, young or old, to pick one. Invariably the first stone to be picked up will be the brilliant ruby! No one can resist the sparkling red gem. And over the years, across all cultures, faiths and regions, the precious red stone is gaining in significance and price.

The quality of a ruby is established by its colour. Its tinge may be pink, orange, purple or brown. The best ruby has a dark tone. When it has a light colour, the stone is usually termed as pink sapphire.

Ruby studded Luxurious Grandeur from Popley Eternal

“Whether it’s a ruby or a pink sapphire depends on whether you’re the buyer or the seller!” This old joke shows the importance of the stone. A pink sapphire costs much less.

The intense red ruby is universally considered as the king of jewels. In India, it’s called manik, the all-important precious stone. It is coveted more than a diamond. As red is considered an auspicious colour, ruby is placed as the centrepiece among all crown jewels, including the crowns of Indian kings of the mythical days to the last of the moghuls.

Jewellery designer Prakshi Sharma of R.K. Jewellers says, “Ruby is considered as the most auspicious gem stone. That is why at least one ruby is used as the centrepiece in almost all Indian wedding jewellery. This also enhances the look of the piece. A diamond set—necklace, earring or even a finger ring—with just one red ruby in the centre makes it an enchanting set.”

Rubies tucked in a diamond studded piece by Vikas Chain & Jewellery

Indian mythology is replete with adulation for this precious stone. Remember Lord Krishna being accused of stealing the Shyamantak Mani from the kingdom of King Satrajit? It was supposed to be a gift from Lord Surya, the Sun God, to Satrajit. As legends go, it is the biggest, the brightest and the most coveted ruby known so far, known to bring prosperity to the owner.

Astrologically, ruby is the best gem stone—it is believed to protect its owners from ill health and misfortune. It’s the birthstone of people born in July.

Designer Manish Khattar of Zuri by MK says, “Actually, until DeBeers went on a huge publicity spree for diamonds, ruby was the costliest and most coveted gem in the market. Very few could afford to buy a real ruby even then.”

Another reason for ruby to lose the coveted top position in the market was the fact that several of natural mines, especially those in Myanmar (the most important place of ruby excavation), closed down. Till today, Myanmar rubies are considered the best in the world. People willingly pay exorbitant amounts to get hold of a real Burmese ruby. Now, real and authentic rubies rarely get sold.

Bracelet embraced with rubies by Annu Chadha

Ruby suits all skin tones. It can be set in gold by itself or with white, yellow, pink or even black diamond. And ruby can be fitted into any jewellery set. If small, they can be used around a solitaire diamond or if one is lucky to own a chunky one, it can be set along with other precious gems. A ruby can be set in any design—old classic, moghul or contemporary.

Another quality of ruby is that it can be worn at any time of the day. It sparkles whether you wear it to office, at a party or during a festival. And it suits all age groups. A new-born also can be adorned with small ruby ear studs. In fact, in most families in south India, ears of the new-born are pierced with a small gold wire with a tiny ruby attached to it.

Designer Annu Chadha of Jewels by Annu Chadha loves to highlight diamond jewellery with a piece of ruby. She says, “The rubies that we get from Africa, Australia, Thailand, Nepal, Vietnam and the USA are of good quality. Of course, the old Burmese rubies are the best. The market is also flooded with manmade chemically treated rubies. So, while buying rubies one has to go to a trusted jeweller to get one’s money’s worth.”

So, at a time when diamonds, polki or kundan prevail, own at least one ruby set and stand out among the mere diamond set owners!

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