February 14 marks Valentine’s Day, a holiday dedicated to romance and love.
While our contemporary traditions say to celebrate by spoiling, coaxing or courting our object of affection, the day serves an opportunity to explore love in all her facets—from shallow to deep.
It is still open for interpretation how Valentine’s Day came about, as there are many theories of its origin.
Most people today associate the holiday with Saint Valentine, who served during the third century in Rome—who broke the Roman laws by performing weddings for young couples in secret against the decree of Emperor Claudius II.
Others believe Valentine’s Day has its roots in the pagan holiday of Lupercalia. As a homage to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and fertility, Lupercalia, commonly took place on February 15. This theory suggests that Valentine’s Day was enacted by the church as a way to Christianize the pagan festival.
Regardless of its origin, by the 17th century, Valentine’s Day had gained momentum in Great Britain. By the middle of the 18th century, it was totally mainstream: a day when friends and lovers of all social classes exchanged small tokens of affection or handwritten notes.
Today, Valentine’s Day is also celebrated in the US, Canada, Mexico, France and Australia.
In America alone, Valentine’s Day customers spend $17.3 billion dollars. Along with flowers and confections, 19% will purchase jewelry, according to the National Retail Federation.
Speaking of jewelry—on a day notorious for love and the color red—what better embodies the heart than a passionate, red ruby?
The name ruby is derived from the Latin word ruber, which means red.
The ruby is referred to four times in the Bible for qualities such as beauty and wisdom, says GIA, the world’s authority on diamonds, colored stones, and pearls. It has been considered the most precious of the 12 stones created by God. GIA says, “As a symbol of passion, ruby makes an ideal romantic gift.”
This proved true throughout Europe, as for centuries the ruby was considered a perfect wedding stone for its association with love, passion and commitment.
The iconic Hollywood siren, Elizabeth Taylor who had a robust appetite for expensive jewelry—especially rubies—inspired her then husband, Richard Burton, to gift her with a ruby. This gem embodied Taylor’s own qualities of beauty, passion, and intensity. She would eventually find a 24ct ruby ring from Van Cleef & Arpels in her Christmas stocking. Later, the diamond-encrusted ruby ring broke the record for price per carat when it sold for $4,226,500.
Other famous rubies in history include the Black Prince’s Ruby and the Star of Bharany Ruby.
Rubies have their place in Eastern culture, too. Legend claims that an old Chinese emperor, upon seeing the majestic ruby proclaimed, “A city for a stone, a whole city for this stone!”
The Indians referred to rubies as Ratnanayaka, the lord of the gemstones. In other parts of Asia it is described as “a drop of the heart’s blood of Mother Earth.”
Because Asian culture regards the color red as good luck, also imbued with the ability to ward off evil, rubies were used to ornament armor and weapons, such as swords, scabbards and harnesses. It was even said warriors could make themselves invincible by inserting the stone into their flesh.
While Myanmar (modern day Burma) was the main source of deep red rubies for hundreds of years, now rubies also come from India, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam, Pakistan, Macedonia and even Greenland.
But it is China today that holds more than 90% of the ruby market, where the stone remains popular and is featured in all kinds of illustrious jewelry.
Over the years, many physical and metaphysical properties have been attributed to the ruby including: dispelling sadness and fears, cleansing the blood, detoxifying the body, overcoming exhaustion and building endurance. It is believed that the ruby promotes commitment, courage, motivation, confidence, creativity, and self-love; it opens the heart and emotional connection.
And so, the ruby has acquired a name and reputation for itself; it is known as the gem of love.
While we may not all run out to the nearest jewelry store to purchase a ruby ring for our Valentine, we can still embrace the ruby’s deeper significance in our lives.
We can set our intention, not on the fleeting material and superficial elements of love, but rather on love’s everlasting virtues.
A reward comes when we commit to opening our hearts in all our relationships—to all beings, at all times. When we deepen our communication with loved ones by letting go of fears and limitations, the best version of our self shines forth.
We exhibit a greater love—compassion—by offering a helping hand to someone in need. When someone else agitates us, we express love when we shake it off with a smile.
We don’t need to wear a ruby to detoxify ourselves, to cast away darkness. Rather, we can actively clean our own minds of distracting thoughts, and this in turn improves our bodies.
When we truly think of others before ourselves, a wellspring of creativity comes forth, and our lives take on a fresh perspective.
Is this what it means to emanate Divine love?—when we choose to live in line with nature, with others, with our fellow man?
Quotes on Love
“Love does not dominate; it cultivates.”— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller
“And remember, as it was written, to love another person is to see the face of God.”— Les Miserables
“I saw that you were perfect, and so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect and I loved you even more.”— Angelita Lim
“At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.”― Plato
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”— Lao-Tzu
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