Blood from a stone

James looks at the story be­hind the fab­u­lous Pi­geon Blood ruby

EDP Norfolk - - VALUATIONS -

There is an old say­ing: ‘you can­not get blood from a stone’. Tech­ni­cally that may be cor­rect; how­ever there is a deep red-coloured stone known as the Pi­geon Blood ruby.

The ruby de­rives from the alu­minium ox­ide va­ri­ety corun­dum. Pi­geon Blood ru­bies de­rive their rather the­atri­cal name through the in­tense, deep red colour as­so­ci­ated with a pi­geon’s throat be­ing cut, in par­tic­u­lar the first few droplets of blood seep­ing from the neck... grue­some to say the least, how­ever it does cap­ture a vivid im­age.

These ru­bies are ex­tremely rare and come from the re­gion around the Mo­gok val­ley in Up­per Myan­mar in Burma.

This re­gion was for cen­turies a main source of ru­bies. How­ever more re­cently the cen­tral can­ton of Mong Hsu has be­come one of the world’s largest pro­duc­ers, since the dis­cov­ery of a new min­ing vein in the north­ern state of Kachin and the Namya (Namyazeik) mines.

It was pro­claimed that only the finest and most in­tense-coloured ru­bies could be con­sid­ered as, and called, Pi­geon Blood ru­bies. Lead­ing fash­ion houses have been turn­ing away from Burma as a source of ru­bies be­cause of the ten­sions in the area and atroc­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with the rul­ing au­thor­i­ties there.

Cartier was the big­gest name to start to source ru­bies from other coun­tries and then oth­ers quickly fol­lowed suit.

His­tor­i­cally, ru­bies have also been mined in great quan­ti­ties from Thai­land and Cam­bo­dia, as well as in Afghanista­n, Aus­tralia, Brazil, Colom­bia, In­dia, Namibia and Ja­pan. Af­ter the Sec­ond World War ruby de­posits were found in Mada­gas­car, Nepal, Pak­istan, Ta­jik­istan, Tan­za­nia and Vietnam.

Sri Lankan mines, well-known as a source of in­tense sap­phires (corn­flower blue), also pro­duce a lighter shade of ruby (of­ten re­ferred to as pink sap­phire) and are more com­monly found.

Re­cently, trade ex­perts have at­tempted to re-brand vari­ants of mod­ern ru­bies as Pi­geon Blood due to the amount of chromium to iron ra­tio. But it has been met with mixed re­views from ex­pert gem­mol­o­gists and has been re­garded as a mis­ap­pro­pri­ated phrase in the mar­ket place.

Gem ex­perts are cur­rently re­flect­ing on the ter­mi­nol­ogy; how­ever the colour ref­er­ence con­jures up a state of mind and of­fers a sub­jec­tive in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the shade.

But for now the jury is out on mod­ern Pi­geon Blood ru­bies. N

At Juels’ Lim­ited we are al­ways de­lighted to pur­chase any an­tique or vin­tage jew­ellery and in par­tic­u­lar the in­ten­sity and rar­ity of the Pi­geon Blood ruby. Find us in the cen­tre of that jewel of Nor­wich’s re­tail area, the Royal Ar­cade. juel­slim­ juel­[email protected] 01603 666373

ABOVE: Ru­bies are one of the world’s finest gems

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