Another of the ‘Stone of Kings’, the ruby has long been associated with wealth and royalty, though most notably wealth. Possessing a ruby was considered to be beneficial to the owner’s lands and estates, aiding in the accumulation of wealth, protection of holdings and acquisition of other precious stones. Some other talismanic properties assigned this stone had to do with protection. If worn on the left, (the side of the heart,) this blood colored stone was thought to allow the owner/wearer to live in peace and concord with all men, that neither his land nor rank would be taken from him, and that he would be preserved from all perils. Not only this, but the stone would also guard his house, orchards and vineyards from storms.
Due to its association with blood, the ruby was also the stone of soldiers. The Burmese prized the ruby highly for this usage. It was believed to give invulnerability, but it was not sufficient to wear the stone on the left. It had to be physically inserted into the flesh and become a part of the owner’s body. Those who wore the stone in this fashion were then believed to be safe from wounds by spear, sword, or gun. These soldiers were often very fierce in battle, as well. This concept of the prevention of wounds was seen elsewhere, and the flip side of this belief led people to think rubies and other red stones could inflict more harmful wounds if used as bullets. An instance of this was when the Asiatic tribe of the Hanzas used similarly colored garnets in their uprising against the British in 1892.
The “Book of Wings” by Ragiel, composed in the thirteenth century, lists the power of the ruby bearing a specific representation: “The beautiful and terrible figure of a dragon. If this is found on a ruby or any other stone of similar nature and virtue, it has the power to augment the goods of this world and makes the wearer joyous and healthy.” Here he is referring to the curious concept of the Middle Ages that stones which had been carved with images in ancient times were actually found that way in nature and had not been created by the hand of man.
The inner glow of a ruby hints that perhaps it contains an inner fire. This idea leads to the many interesting legends surrounding the stone. If placed into water, it was thought to make it boil. If hidden in a wrapping, it would shine through and show its presence. There are many stories of rubies that emit a light of their own, one being described as ‘shining like a torch’. The darker rubies were considered to be ‘male’ and the lighter colored stones ‘female’. All varieties were thought to hold similar properties, in that they kept the wearer physically and mentally healthy, controlled evil and amorous thoughts, dissipated pestilence and reconciled disputes. It was also thought to increase the body’s warmth. Other sources say that rubies and other red stones were thought to be universal remedies for bleeding and inflammation and were believed to have a calming influence to remove anger and discord.
The concept of stones as sentient creatures in their own right is not a new one. Rare and beautiful stones were once regarded as being inhabited by spirits. This is made clear by the writings of one French woman, Mme. Catulle Mendes, when she tells of wearing so many rings because her gems feel slighted if she does not wear them: “I have a ruby which grows dull, two turquoises which become pale as death, aquamarines which look like siren’s eyes filled with tears, when I forget them too long. How sad I should feel if precious stones did not love to rest upon me!” This concept of jewelry having ‘feelings’ was also shared by ancient, (and unfortunately unnamed,) Oriental peoples. Two bracelets were frequently worn, so that one would not become jealous of the other and cause imbalance.
The ruby was a beloved and highly regarded stone of the Hindus. They regarded the ruby as more valued than any other. It is known as the “king of precious stones” or “leader of precious stones” and a certain shade of ruby is called “red as the lotus”. These different rubies were also seen as having different castes. The “red as the lotus” ruby was seen as a Brahmin, and conferred perfect safety to the owner. Great care had to be taken to prevent contact of this ruby with inferior stones, however, as such contact would ‘contaminate’ the stone and diminish its power.
The Kalpa Tree, a symbolic offering to the gods of the Hindus, is described in the work “Mani Mala” as being composed entirely of precious stones: The roots of sapphire, the base of the trunk diamond, leading to topaz, and then cat’s eye, the leaves were of zircon, the newer leaves of emeralds and coral, and rubies were the ripe fruit of this magnificent tree. One of the ceremonial offerings of the Hindus consisted of gifts of gems and jewelry to the temples of various gods. Of those who gave the gift of rubies, the text of “Haiti Smriti” says: “He who worships Krishna with rubies will be reborn as a powerful emperor; if with a small ruby, he will be born a king.”
An Arabic book on dreams of the eighth century by Achametis seems to be derived from Hindu sources. It mentions that if a king dreams of a crown set with red jewels such as ruby, this indicates that the king would have great joy and good fortune and would be more feared by his enemies than he was before. Other sources also tell of dreams of rubies indicating success in money or business matters, and for tillers of the soil, a good harvest.
In the last few centuries, the realms of science and hypnotism have been affected by the ideas surrounding the power of colors and their related gemstones. The late George Fredrick Kunz had this to say, “It is impossible to over-estimate the effect of color in determining the supposed influence of gems upon the fortunes or health of the wearers. Not only are gems such as a fine ruby aesthetically pleasing, but the influence of the rays of light cannot be discounted.” The instinctive appreciation of the qualities of these rays has actually since been proven to some degree by science. The ancient notion that the ruby was associated with passion is backed up by the science of spectrum analysis, as red rays have been proven to be warming and energizing. The effects of color on a subject have been noted by hypnotists as well. One, Dr. Paul Ferez, found that red light was stimulating while blue-violet light calming. A hyper-active subject of his would be placed in a ‘calming’ room of blue-violet hues, while a subject with depression would be shown to a room draped in red.
With such a long and varied history, it is no wonder that the ruby has acquired such fame and mystique. Of course, the owners of these stones have a vested interest in the loftiness of their possessions. We all want our things to be the very best of all, and the ruby has the reputation and beauty to back such claims. So if you wish to own a ruby to increase your fortunes, impress your rivals or protect yourself from harm in business or battle, the legends behind it ‘prove’ that this is the stone to do the job.