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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Corundum (var. ruby)

This is the first ruby from Sri Lanka for the National Gem Colleciton.
Photo by Greg Polley. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G11494-00
Locality Sri Lanka
Weight 2.95 ct

Added to the collection in 2015.

Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum. Pure corundum is colorless, but small amounts of impurity atoms can impart a range of colors. In this case, chromium is responsible for the beautiful red color of the ruby. Any other color of corundum is called sapphire, which can occur in many colors, including blue, purple, green, yellow, pink and orange. The most important source of fine rubies has been Burma, and in fact the term “Burmese Ruby” is synonymous with the best and most valuable rubies. These rubies have an intense red to slightly pinkish-red color and are medium-dark in tone, commonly referred to as “pigeon’s blood.” Rubies can be found in many localities, including Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Australia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S.  This cushion cut ruby is purplish-red in color and weighs 2.95ct. It is the first ruby from Sri Lanka for the National Gem Collection.


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