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Ruby by Joanna Hardy, Thames & Hudson, US $125.00, Pp 368, December 2017, ISBN 978-0500519417

Human beings have been obsessed with precious stones and precious metals since time immemorial. It is actually our obsession with a certain stone and/or metal that makes them precious. In Ruby, Joanna Hardy explores the history of ruby, the most precious stone, and showcases more than sixty of the most famous rubies, ruby jewelry and ruby artifacts including many previously unpublished ones. Ruby also offers images of emperors and empresses; kings and queens; princes and Hollywood celebrities wearing their favorite ruby jewels alongside images of rubies.

Joanna Hardy says that the beauty of all colored gemstones lies in their hue. How we react to a certain color will depend on how it makes us feel. Red is a powerful chroma, seen in burning fires and in the blood that runs through the veins of every mammal on Earth. There are many gradients of red that awakens passion and desire in the human soul. So who is to say that one tint is more potent than another? Additionally, we all see color slightly differently due to our eyes’ own interpretation of light waves. Our individual preferences for one shade of red over another will always be subjective. A colored gemstone should be chosen because it ‘speaks to you,’ not because it has been described in a particular way, such as ‘pigeon blood’ in the case of case of rubies. Hardy finds it unfair how a label such as this, first used in the mid-nineteenth century, should dictate worth.

Humans have always had a desire to recreate colors seen in the world around them. Joanna Hardy says that the color in nature triggers emotions of awe or delight or fear. Since the earliest times, stories of human events and daily life have been told using color; in painted images on cave walls or in woven tapestries, in color made from carefully dyed fibres or in body painting with natural pigments created with ancient traditions of adornment, intended either to beautify the world or to communicate thoughts and feeling. It may be that primitive humans scratched trees or rocks with stones as a way of identifying a track, indicating a source of food or water, or even marking territory.

Joanna Hardy says that the rarest gemstones found in riverbed or deep within the Earth’s crust has always generated intrigued and captured our imagination. We forget, though, that jewelers and specialists have only been able to differentiate between minerals since the late eighteenth century when the correct understanding chemical composition became possible and the science of mineralogy was born. Rubies of gem quality in their natural state are not formed in large crystals, but their vibrancy compensates for their relatively modest size when compared with other gemstones. With all of red’s varied connotations, it has also been thought that women wearing are more sexually attractive to men. Red is known to stimulate a faster heartbeat and quicken breathing. Rubies have been given to women to symbolize a passion or desire.

Ruby is an encyclopedic book on rubies for those who want to understand and use rubies. It is an invaluable resource if you want to use rubies in your jewelry. This is a worthwhile investment if you are interested in rubies or precious stones in any way. Ruby will help you avoid costly mistakes and profitable opportunities.  Nobody would be able to hoodwink you into buying a wrong ruby or precious stone. This beautifully manufactured book with tantalizing and stunning images is a real feast for your eyes. It must be on every coffee table.

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