Because of their rarity, beauty, hardness and the rich folklore that surround them, people of all cultures throughout the ages have sought and treasured certain precious gemstones. Large, naturally occurring gemstones are extremely rare. The larger the gemstone, the more expensive it is. Of all the precious gems known to Man, the ruby is perhaps the most desired because of its fiery red color, brilliance, and rarity. Known as the “Lord of Gemstones” in ancient India, it is second to the diamond in terms of hardness, yet it has been valued and desired a lot more in the olden days than the diamond – a preference that still persists up to this day, in some cultures and countries. Large rubies are extremely valuable — and priceless even, and there is certainly a lot of prestige attached to owning the biggest ruby in the world.
To be sure, quite a few large pieces of these gemstones have been unearthed over the centuries. However, finding out which of these finds hold the record for being the biggest ruby in the world is extremely challenging. For one, many owners of these large scarlet gemstones prefer to keep their treasure out of the public’s sight and awareness – and for obvious security reasons, keep these in private vaults and bank safety deposit boxes.
Others adorn the heavily guarded display cases of museums for all the public and posterity to enjoy. One such museum that had the good fortune to acquire through donation one of the finest faceted and the biggest ruby in the world is the Smithsonian Institution’s National Gem and Mineral Collection in Washington D.C. in the United States. This fabulous gem was donated by multi-millionaire Peter Buck of the famed Subway sandwich chain in honor of his late wife, Carmen Lucia Buck, who was an avid collector of precious gems. The 23.10- carat Carmen Lucia Ruby, which was unearthed in the legendary Mogok region of Burma in the 1930s, has a stunningly homogenous red hue with an extraordinary degree of transparency.
Peter Buck said that during her lifetime, his beloved wife, who hailed from Brazil and later became a naturalized U.S. citizen, shared his passion and admiration for precious gems, loved children and her adopted country. The Carmen Lucia Ruby, which went on display in October of 2004, is a gift of appreciation to the people of the United States and a testament of a husband’s undying love for his beloved wife. Truly, the ruby lives up to its reputation as the symbol of eternal love.