Tavernier relates that the throne of the Great Mogul was adorned by 108 rubies of from 100 to 200 carats each, faultless in form and colour. And, according to Marco Polo, a single ruby owned by the King of Ceylon was a span in length, as thick as a man's arm, and entirely flawless. Kubla Khan saw and coveted it, and offered for it the price of a city, but the monarch refused to part with his treasure.
In spite of its great hardness the ruby has been engraved, and two famous engraved rubies belonged to the Hope collection. One represented the head of Jupiter, and the other a full-length figure of Minerva.
To speak of more recent times, the two most important rubies ever known in Europe were brought into this country in the year 1875. These were sent by the Burmese Government, and were of the finest quality. One weighed 32 carats and the other over 38. Another splendid stone found in the Burmese mines weighed 18 7/16 carats, and arrived in England in the year 1895.
The Grand Duchess Marie of Saxe-coburg is said to possess the finest rubies in the world. Splendid sets of rubies and diamonds are also owned by the Duchess of Westminster, the Countess of Dudley, the Countess of Stradbroke, Mrs. Arthur James, and by Mrs. Bradley Martin, who is one of our richest Americans. Lady Wimborne has a superb pear-shaped ruby that - like many other precious gems - came from the Hope collection.
Where Rubies are Found
Lady Carew is the owner of an historic ruby of immense value. This measures one inch and five-eighths in length by seven-eighths of an inch in width, weighs 133 1/2 carats, is uncut, and but slightly polished. It is engraved with Persian characters, and on it appear the names and titles of four great Mogul emperors. The colour of this ruby is a rich rose, somewhat lighter than the "pigeon's blood" colour of the so-called Oriental ruby. It was brought from Persia in the 'sixties by a great-uncle of Lady Carew.
Rubies are found in Burma, Siam, and Ceylon, and the stone is also to be seen in China and Afghanistan. A few rubies are met with in North Carolina, in the United States of America. Ruby-bearing gravels and sands seldom occur in Europe, but some are to be found in the Urals and in Bohemia. Small rubies have been found in Victoria
But the best rubies in the world come from Upper Burma. These mines were opened up some years ago by Mr. Streeter, a one-time jeweller in Bond Street. The district has as its trade centre the native town of Mogok, which is about a three days' journey from Mandalay.
This region embraces an area of forty-five square miles, but the ruby-bearing district is far larger, and extends into the Shan States, and has been estimated at 400 square miles. The gem-bearing layer varies in thickness from ten inches to five feet, and is overlaid by a sand and clay deposit from two and a half to twelve feet thick, in which the precious stones are discovered.
This stone is found in the beds of rivers in Ceylon, Siam, and other castern countries.
Spinels may be met with nearer home.
For they occur in mountain Wicklow, Ireland, and at Elie in Fife shire, Scotland. At Elie they are found on the sandy beach near the harbour, and when the Duchess of Connaught and Princess Patricia stayed in the town they took much delight in collecting the Scotch rubics. A noted mineralogist has described the spinels as the most valuable gem to be found in Scotland.
The ruby is a stone which, unlike the emerald, has always held its own in popular favour. it suits both youth and age. and its rich glowing tints by no means detract from its rare refinement. Rubies lend themselves well to the most artistic treatment. But it must be admitted that, as regards these stones, modern jewellers seem to have less success than the ancients. How well are more costly gems than diamonds and depend for their value upon their colour or four men work together and sink a pit, usually about four feet in diameter, through the surface of the gem-bearing gravel. This gravel they take away in baskets and wash carefully, by which means the water and light stuff are removed, and also the earthy deposit. Then the washed sand is taken out again and again, and re-washed in flat, fine-meshed baskets, after which any gems it contains are picked out of the residuum. The apparatus for washing consists of a wooden trough about five feet long, and large enough for a man to stand in with comfort.
A necklace of diamonds and rubies. Inside the necklet is shown a fine set of cabochon rubies set with diamonds. Fine rubies
During the last forty years much wealth in the shape of rubies has come from Burma. The above-mentioned stones, which were sent to England in 1875. fetched respectively the large sums of £10,000 and £20,000.
As already stated, the spinel-ruby often we know the ruby ring that has a row of stones in a heavy gold setting, or the massive brooch or pendant in which rubies are mixed with emeralds or other equally incongruous companions.
The Setting of Rubles
One of the 1 uses of the ruby seen in the form of an inlay in gold of Eastern origin. These rubies are gem rally small, cut en cabochon, and set in dull gold of exquisite workmanship. d the same effect may be seen in old pendants of the Renaissance.
Pearls accord well with rubies, and in the case of rubies cut en cabochon brilliant-cut diamonds will be found to yield a sound combination.
Garnets and red tourmalines - the rubies' poor relations - shall be dealt with in a later article.