Rubies are mined in Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, and Cambodia, but they have also been found in the U.S. states of Montana, North Carolina and South Carolina. The Mogok Valley in Upper Myanmar has produced some of the finest rubies, but in recent years very few good rubies have been found there. The unique color in Myanmar (Burmese) rubies is described as “pigeon’s blood”. They are known in the trade as “Mogok” rubies. In central Myanmar the area of Mong Hsu also produces rubies. The latest ruby deposit to be found in Myanmar is situated in Nam Ya. In 2002 rubies were found in the Waseges River area of Kenya. Sometimes spinels are found along with rubies in the same rocks and are mistaken for rubies. However, fine red spinels may approach the average ruby in value.
Ruby is a light pink to blood red gemstone, a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminium oxide). The common red color is caused mainly by the element chromium. Its name comes from ruber, Latin for red. Other varieties of gem-quality corundum are called sapphires. It is considered one of the four precious stones, together with the sapphire, the emerald and the diamond. Improvements used include color alteration, improving transparency by dissolving rutile inclusions, healing of fractures (cracks) or even completely filling them. Prices of rubies are primarily determined by color (the brightest and best “red” called Pigeon Blood Red, command a huge premium over other rubies of similar quality). After color follows clarity: similar to diamonds, a clear stone will command a premium, but a ruby without any needle-like rutile inclusions will indicate the stone has been treated one way or another. Cut and carat (size) also determine the price.