Short of giving someone an actual ruby, a new super-deluxe coffee-table book promises to be a most impressive holiday gift, especially if the recipient is a passionate jewelry lover and collector.
Ruby: The King of Gems is a luxurious, oversized volume filled with magnificent photos of important ruby jewelry designs and archival artwork from an array of master jewelers, coupled with meticulous historical and gemological research. We have Joanna Hardy, noted author, gemologist, and jewelry specialist—formerly of De Beers, Phillips and Sotheby’s—to thank for this feast for the eyes and mind.
The volume is published by Thames & Hudson and sponsored by Gemfields. (Hardy is also the author behind 2014’s Emerald: Twenty-one Centuries of Jewelled Opulence and Power, another Gemfields commission.)
Design for a ruby and diamond Hummingbird Aigrette, Chaumet, c. 1890; photo courtesy of Collection Chaumet
“Without the wonderful collaborations with Verdura and Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels and Chaumet, all the cutters, and all the miners, Ruby wouldn’t have happened,” the author said at a Dec. 11 press briefing at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC. “I see that I am a conductor of an orchestra, and together we have created this wonderful book.”
Ruby also serves as a travelogue chronicling the author’s adventures in the world’s great ruby deposits, from Moguk in Thailand to the Gemfields-owned mine in Montepuez, Mozambique.
“In today’s market the majority of rubies come from Mozambique and a small proportion comes from Burma, and an even smaller proportion comes from other deposits like Kenya or Tanzania,” said Hardy, adding that demand for the stone has increased in recent years due to its rarity and high-profile sales of massive rubies at auction.
“When I went to Burma in 2016, I went halfway down the highest ruby mine in Moguk, which is 400 meters deep—the Eiffel tower is 300 meters high,” said Hardy.
“They love their rubies in Moguk; even their cigarettes are called Ruby Red and their supermarkets are called Ruby, too. The gemstone markets there are absolutely incredible and they’re run by women dealers.”
Below, a sneak peek at some of the most jaw-dropping ruby jewels highlighted in the book, which officially releases on Dec. 19.
Indian-style necklace with rubies and pearls; English Art Works for Cartier London, 1930 (Image by Nick Welsh; courtesy of the Cartier Collection ©Cartier)
Brooch in the shape of a headdress with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds; Van Cleef & Arpels, 1924 (Image courtesy of Patrick Gries, ©Van Cleef & Arpels)
Jarretière ruby and diamond cuff bracelet, made for Marlene Dietrich; Van Cleef & Arpels, 1937–1939 (Image courtesy of B . Moulin ©Van Cleef & Arpels)
Heart brooch with rubies, colored diamonds, and calibré-cut sapphires in a ribbon with the phrase “Verbum carro” (meaning “the word made flesh” or “a word to my dear one”); Verdura for Paul Flato (Image courtesy of Verdura)
Choker with cabochon rubies, brilliant-cut diamonds, and lapis lazuli, joined by gold chains and smaller sapphire cabochons; Bulgari, 1979 (Image courtesy of Bulgari Archives, Rome)
Swirling ring with 2.642 cts. tw. diamonds and a 10.01 ct. cushion-shape ruby from Mozambique set in platinum; Fei Liu, 2016 (Image courtesy of Fei Liu)
(Top: Cover of Ruby: The King of Gems; Courtesy of Thames & Hudson)
Follow me on Instagram – @aelliott718