It was believed, in ancient times, that all gems grew like the fruit
on a tree, and ripened with the seasons. They all started off white,
and as the sun shone, they were brought to maturity and perfection.
Deep red stones were those that were fully ripened…paler colors
depicted stones that had been plucked from the earth too early. The
beautiful red stone, when ripe, in Sanskrit, the old language of
India, was called Kuruvinda. Eventually the Hindus shortened the name to
Korund, which was later bastardized to Corundum, a name which today
encompasses a variety of gems, including the Ruby.
Ahh…the ruby…the tales of which were only limited by the
imagination. In the Arabian Nights, Sinbad saw a cup of ruby a span
high… however high that is. Marco Polo wrote that on the island of
Ceylon, the Singhalese monarch owned a red gem four inches long and as
thick as a finger. Kublai Khan offered the monarch the value of a city for
the gem. But the Singhalese ruler refused, saying he would not part with
the jewel for all the treasures of the world.
There is an old old book of travels by Sir John Mandeville where he
claims a king owned a ruby a foot long and five fingers wide.
Yes…the ruby. Symbol of glory from medieval times onward. If you
wore this gem…you could not be harmed. But what if you wore it
folks, on a string around your neck let’s say, and you lost it. Alas,
whatever immunity the stone offered would then be lost. How to avoid this
disaster? Simple. The east Indian of past days, before going off to
battle, would have the stone, after much pain and suffering, inserted
into his flesh. Now he would never be wounded in battle. You see folks,
this was before shields were being massed produced, and you were lucky if
you even had sandals. What better than a shield? Aw shucks friends, a ruby
under the skin, of course.
And how else, other than the normal ripening process, was a ruby
created? Well, it was once told that a ruby was in truth a diamond
which had been colored by the blood of a slain maharani (queen).
Rudyard Kipling…who out there remembers Mowgli…Rudyard Kipling, in his
poem “The Road to Mandalay”, describes Burma as the land of rubies.
And on it goes with rubies. Death and punishment swiftly meted out to any
who dared even to think of stealing this gem from the current ruler of the
land. Selling rubies without permission…public flogging on a street
corner in Mandalay. Cut a ruby without the king’s permission, and you were
tied to an ox cart and dragged around the palace walls and beaten with
Kuruvinda…in ancient times…the most treasured of all gems.
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
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