Famed for their clarity and distinct pink red colour rubies from Sri Lanka has had a special place in global history.
A giant ruby from Sri Lanka helped King Solomon win the heart of Queen Sheba and another in his regal ring carried magical powers, and even after several thousand years, Sri Lankan rubies are celebrated for their colour, cut and quality.
Among the most celebrated Ceylon rubies is the Rosser Reeves Ruby. Having originated from Sri Lanka, the star ruby weighs 138.7 carats and is among the largest star rubies in the world. Once the property of the advertising mogul Rosser Reeves, the magnificent star ruby now resides at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History at Washington D.C.
Unlike the ruby gems found in Cambodia, Burma and Thailand, Sri Lankan rubies carry a distinct lighter red and pink colour. Identical in every aspect to a sapphire, other than its distinct red colour, a Sri Lankan ruby is essentially a red coloured corundum, which is only second to a diamond in hardness.
While Sri Lanka was the main source for exquisite rubies for nearly three thousand years and has been documented as the land of rubies by global travellers and explorers, who flocked to the trading ports of Sri Lanka in search of exquisite gems, ivory, spices and other luxury items.
A large ruby of superior quality is far more rare than a large sapphire. In today's precious gem stone market, an untreated ruby of quality above two carats is a rare stone while an untreated ruby of fine quality above five carats is considered a world-class piece.
All natural rubies carry slight imperfections including colour impurities and inclusions enabling them to be distinguished apart from synthetics, stimulants, or substitutes of ruby gems.
Due to the shortage of superior quality rubies, most of the stones found in international precious stone market has been subjected to heat treatment to improve their clarity. Heat treatment, a practice that has been among the local gem community for centuries improves the colour and clarity of the gem stone, increasing its quality and market value. However, rubies that are completely untreated but still is of excellent quality command a large premium in the global market.