The precious stone gets its name from its color, as “ruby” stems from the Latin word “ruber” meaning “red.” The precious stone is closely related to sapphires and regions which have ruby deposits usually have sapphire deposits. Countries of Southeast Asia have the most significant concentrations of rubies in the world, with Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, and Afghanistan having the bulk of the world’s rubies.
Myanmar is the world’s ruby capital with more than 90% of the world’s rubies coming from the Asian nation. The country is also home to world’s largest cut ruby which weighs at 1,184 carats. Myanmar’s government is in possession of a sizeable uncut ruby weighing 500 carats. Rubies are among the most important exports from Myanmar. Most of the ruby mining in Myanmar takes place in the nation’s mountainous Mogok area which has mines with large ruby deposits. Official exports of rubies from the country are valued at over $87.4 million while the undocumented exports are possibly more.
Another country that has most of the world’s rubies is Sri Lanka. As a testament of the country’s substantial ruby deposits, Sri Lanka is also known as “Ratna Dweepa” which translates to “Gem Island.” The island’s rubies are notable for their lighter color. Scientists estimate that about 25% of the nation’s landmass has the potential of bearing rubies. Most of the ruby mining is carried out in Ratnapura, a city whose name means “City of the Gems.” The large ruby deposits found in the country is attributed to its ancient geological history. Sri Lanka sits on some of the oldest rocks on earth which date back to the Precambrian epoch.
Rubies and other gemstones have been mined in Afghanistan for thousands of years since the Neolithic Era. The rubies mined in Afghanistan are renowned for their high quality. However, the country does not reap from its rich ruby deposits, with most of the rubies being smuggled out of the country. Up to 95% of the country’s gemstones (including rubies) are smuggled to Peshawar, a city in neighboring Pakistan. The illegal trade of the gemstones makes it hard to establish the value of rubies produced in Afghanistan.
Cambodia and Thailand
In Cambodia, rubies are mined in virtually all its provinces. The ruby deposits in the country have been exploited for centuries. However, the locals do not have a name for rubies and refer to them as “ksath rung” which translates to “hard flesh,” which encompasses both rubies and sapphires. Thailand is another nation known for its abundance of rubies. The country is, however, infamous for being the destination for most of the smuggled rubies from its neighboring countries. After arriving in Thailand, the smuggled rubies are polished and cut and later sold to western markets. Thailand is also home to countless scammers who sell fake rubies to unsuspecting buyers. The nation’s capital, Bangkok is particularly notorious for its ruby scammers.
The United States also has ruby deposits, albeit in low concentrations. Rubies have been found in the states of North Carolina, Montana, Wyoming, and South Carolina. Other countries where rubies have been discovered include Kenya and Mozambique. In Europe, the precious stone naturally found only in Macedonia.