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Where Are Rubies Found?

April 06, 2023

Rubies, like all gemstones, are formed deep within the earth. Long known for their deep and rich red colouring, rubies are formed as a result of aluminium-rich soils oxidising and becoming a mineral known as corundum. Corundum becomes a ruby when it is exposed to chromium under intense heat and pressure. This causes the chromium to enter the crystalline structure of the corundum and give it the wonderful red hue that rubies are famous for. 


Where Does This Happen?

The conditions necessary for the formation of rubies are very specific. Thus far, only a few places in the world have been known to reliably produce rubies.



Those of us living in the land down under already know that Australia is home to some of the world’s largest mining operations. However, those seeking ruby jewellery in Melbourne might be surprised to learn that it’s possible the stone you are buying was mined close by. 

Rubies and their chemically similar cousins sapphires have been found all over eastern Australia as well as Tasmania. Ruby and sapphire mining in Australia dates back to the mid-1800s. For the century or so after their discovery, rubies and other gems from Australia became prized the world over and many of the European elite of the era wore gems that originated in Australia. 


India and Southeast Asia

Most of us know that volcanoes and earthquakes are common throughout the Asia-Pacific region thanks to several different tectonic plates intersecting. However, unless you’re sporting a degree in geology, volcanology, or seismology, you are most likely unaware that the continental plate that Australia sits on is also the same or closely linked to the plate on which the Indian subcontinent is situated. 

This Austral-Indian plate collides with the Eurasian plate in the vicinity of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Together with Thailand, this region is rich in various gemstones such as rubies and sapphires. In more developed countries such as Thailand, world-class jewellers can be found everywhere, and the trade in gems and jewels is robust.


Southeastern Africa

A relative newcomer in the ruby trade, the nations of Madagascar and Mozambique have become major players in the ruby market over the past decade. While rubies have been known to be in abundance in these areas since at least the 1500s, for a long time, it wasn’t widely understood how much a ruby is worth. In fact, it has only been in the last thirty years, as peace and prosperity have descended upon southeast Africa, that ruby mining has become big business. 

The past fifteen years have been especially productive as major international players have entered the market in cooperation with their African counterparts. Combined with great strides in infrastructure development, Africa has become known as a source of some of the world’s most desirable rubies. 


Elsewhere in the World

Rubies can also be found in limited quantities in the Americas, including both South and North America. However, in these regions, rubies are typically found among other gemstones and are not mined in large quantities. The rubies found in the Americas are also typically of lower quality, and as such, the debate around rubies versus garnets is more about how each stone can be used industrially, rather than as jewellery pieces.


In Summary

Even the rarest of stones come from specific places, but they also continue to surprise us. In 2017, Greenland’s only gem mine opened near the capital of Nuuk, and it is a ruby mine. It turns out that some of the most beautiful gemstones on earth can be found in the coldest and least hospitable places.

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