Home Ruby The Largest Ruby in the World: The “Liberty Bell Ruby”

The Largest Ruby in the World: The “Liberty Bell Ruby”

by Madonna

Rubies, with their captivating red hues and storied history, are among the most revered gemstones in the world. Often symbolizing passion, protection, and prosperity, rubies have adorned the crowns of emperors, the regalia of royalty, and the treasures of civilizations. Among these extraordinary gems, one ruby stands out not only for its size but also for its unique characteristics and the stories it tells. This article delves into the fascinating world of the largest ruby in the world, exploring its history, characteristics, and significance in both gemology and popular culture.

The Allure of Rubies

The Nature and Formation of Rubies

Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum, which is composed of aluminum oxide (Al₂O₃). The presence of trace amounts of chromium gives rubies their signature red color. The intensity of this red can vary, ranging from a light pinkish hue to a deep, rich crimson known as “pigeon’s blood” red, which is highly prized in the gem market.


Rubies are formed under high pressure and temperature conditions deep within the Earth’s crust. Over millions of years, these conditions cause the aluminum and oxygen atoms to bond into corundum crystals, with chromium impurities imparting the red color. The formation process is arduous and requires very specific geological conditions, making large, high-quality rubies extremely rare.


Historical Significance of Rubies

Throughout history, rubies have been venerated across various cultures. Ancient Hindus referred to rubies as the “king of precious stones” and believed they held the power to bestow peace and protection. In Burma (now Myanmar), warriors believed that inserting rubies into their flesh made them invincible in battle. The gemstone has also been a symbol of wealth and power in many royal courts around the world, often included in crowns, sceptres, and other regal adornments.


The Largest Ruby: The “Liberty Bell Ruby”

Discovery and Origins

The Liberty Bell Ruby, often cited as the largest mined ruby in the world, weighs an astounding 8,500 carats (approximately 1.7 kilograms). This colossal gem was discovered in the 1950s in East Africa, specifically Kenya, which is known for producing some remarkable gemstones. Its size and relatively high quality make it an exceptional specimen in the world of gemology.

Unique Characteristics

The Liberty Bell Ruby is not just notable for its size. It has been sculpted into the shape of the Liberty Bell, one of America’s most enduring symbols of independence and freedom. This sculpting, done in 1976 to commemorate the United States Bicentennial, included 50 diamonds symbolizing the 50 states of the Union. This combination of natural beauty and skilled artistry enhances the ruby’s value and significance.

Historical Journey

The history of the Liberty Bell Ruby is as intriguing as the gem itself. It was stolen from a jewelry store in Delaware in 2011, along with other precious items, in what was described as one of the largest gem heists in U.S. history. Despite the extensive search efforts, the ruby remains missing to this day, adding a layer of mystery and intrigue to its story.

Evaluating the Liberty Bell Ruby

Criteria for Valuing Rubies

Rubies are evaluated based on several criteria, including color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. Among these, color is the most critical factor. The most desirable rubies display a vivid, medium-dark red to slightly purplish-red color. Clarity is also important; while inclusions are common in rubies, the fewer and less noticeable they are, the better. The cut enhances the ruby’s natural beauty by maximizing its brilliance and depth of color. Lastly, carat weight impacts value significantly, with larger rubies being exponentially rarer and more valuable.

The Liberty Bell Ruby’s Place in Gemology

Given these criteria, the Liberty Bell Ruby stands out primarily due to its enormous size. While its color and clarity might not match those of smaller, high-quality rubies, its sheer mass makes it a geological marvel. In the gem world, such a large, single piece of ruby is almost unheard of, making the Liberty Bell Ruby an object of significant interest and value.

The Cultural and Economic Impact of the Liberty Bell Ruby

Symbolism and Cultural Significance

The Liberty Bell Ruby, shaped into an iconic American symbol, transcends its status as a mere gemstone. It represents freedom, independence, and the enduring spirit of a nation. This cultural resonance adds layers of meaning and value beyond its physical attributes, making it a unique piece of American history.

Economic Value

While the exact monetary value of the Liberty Bell Ruby is difficult to ascertain, its size, historical significance, and the artistry involved in its creation suggest a very high valuation. Experts have estimated its worth to be in the millions of dollars. However, the true value can only be determined by the market, and the gem’s current whereabouts remain unknown due to its theft.

Other Contenders: Large Rubies Around the World

The “Rajaratna Ruby”

Before the Liberty Bell Ruby gained prominence, the Rajaratna Ruby held the title of the largest ruby. Found in India, this ruby weighs around 2,475 carats. While smaller than the Liberty Bell Ruby, it is still a remarkable gemstone with significant cultural and historical importance in India.

The “De Long Star Ruby”

Another famous large ruby is the De Long Star Ruby, a star ruby weighing 100.32 carats. Discovered in Burma, it is known for its deep, rich color and the distinctive star pattern that appears when light is reflected off its surface. Although much smaller than the Liberty Bell Ruby, its exceptional quality and unique features make it highly valuable.

The Science of Large Rubies

Geological Rarity

Large rubies are incredibly rare due to the specific conditions required for their formation. The combination of high pressure, temperature, and the presence of chromium must persist over millions of years to form sizable rubies. Moreover, geological movements often cause these crystals to fracture, making large, intact rubies even more uncommon.

Synthetic and Treated Rubies

Advancements in technology have led to the creation of synthetic rubies, which are grown in laboratories under controlled conditions. These rubies can achieve sizes and qualities difficult to find in nature. Additionally, natural rubies are often treated to enhance their color and clarity, including heat treatment and fracture filling. However, untreated large rubies like the Liberty Bell Ruby remain exceptionally rare and valuable.

The Future of the Liberty Bell Ruby

Potential Recovery

The theft of the Liberty Bell Ruby has left a significant void in the world of gemology. Efforts to recover the gem continue, and its eventual recovery would undoubtedly make headlines worldwide. The story of its theft and the mystery surrounding its whereabouts add to its allure and mystique.

Impact on the Gem Market

The discovery, treatment, and trade of large rubies have substantial implications for the gem market. Large rubies like the Liberty Bell Ruby can drive market trends, influence prices, and inspire new technologies in gemstone treatment and identification. The potential recovery of such a gem could also stimulate interest in gemology and highlight the importance of securing and preserving precious artifacts.


The Liberty Bell Ruby is more than just the largest ruby in the world. It is a symbol of geological wonder, historical significance, and cultural heritage. Its discovery, craftsmanship, and the dramatic tale of its theft all contribute to its enduring legacy. As the world awaits its potential recovery, the Liberty Bell Ruby continues to capture the imagination of gemologists, historians, and the public alike.

In the broader context of gemology, the Liberty Bell Ruby exemplifies the allure and mystery of precious stones. Its story serves as a testament to the enduring fascination with these natural wonders and the lengths to which people will go to possess and protect them. Whether as a symbol of national pride, a testament to nature’s beauty, or a subject of international intrigue, the Liberty Bell Ruby remains a jewel of unparalleled significance.


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