Rings have a long history dating back thousands of years, and according to Wikipedia, ancient rings have been found in India, Near East (Egypt), Archaic and Classical Greece, as well as Ancient Rome. Rubies used as jewelry is probably more recent than other precious gemstones such as sapphires or diamonds.
According to the American Gem Society, rubies have been symbolic of "passion, protection, and prosperity" since ancient times. The Ancient Romans as well as the Chinese Silk Road traded ruby gemstones going back to the year 200 BC, and Ancient Chinese warriors adorned their armor with rubies believing it would grant them protection.
The GIA states that rubies have a long folklore in many countries. In India, the ruby gained notoriety as a gemstone that allowed their owners to live in peace with enemies. In Burma, which has been a major source of rubies since 600 AD, warriors would take rubies into battle thinking the rubies would make them invincible.
During the Middle Ages rubies started to become more commonplace as jewelry, but only amongst the royalty and very wealthy of society. The rarity of rubies have historically commanded a high premium for very high quality ruby stones that can be used for jewelry including ruby rings. Therefore, mainstream adoption of ruby rings didn't really occur until more modern times.
The late 1800s's and early 1900s ushered in a new era for ruby jewelry. Diamonds were being flooded onto the markets via South African diamond mines and were not as rare as rubies. Rubies started to gain value because of they were more scarce than diamonds. Throughout the 1900's different styles of rings evolved that incorporated rubies. The Edwardian and Art Deco trends further enchanced the appeal of rubies as ring centerpieces and compliments in fine jewelry.
Since rubies are very hard, they are used in other fields outside of jewelry including lasers and medical devices. Synthetic rubies were invented in the early 1900s, but was not used for jewelry until the late 1990s. Synthetic rubies are technically different from lab created rubies, but neither command the value of natural ruby stones.
Lab created and sythetic ruby rings have pressured modern jewelers to make difficult decisions regarding their inventory. While there is demand for lower priced, non-natural ruby rings, ultimately, some jewelers feel synthetic ruby rings compromise the long term integrity of the jewelry business, which is historically based on rare and valuable gemstones.
As evidenced in today's aftermarket, natural ruby rings of very high quality not only hold their value, but gain value over time due to their scarcity. On the opposite side, synthetic and lab created ruby rings have little resale value because there is no demand from jewelers to buy them back.
The history of ruby rings is still being written today, approximately 2,000 years after they were introduced as jewelry to the world.
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