When European scientists arrived in Greenland over 200 years ago to first study its geology, they encountered local Greenlandic people who were already familiar with red gemstones. The Greenlanders assisted the explorers with their ruby hunting, leading them to locations spread out for over a hundred miles along the southwest shores of Greenland, known as the Kitaa Coast.
The first official geological survey of the region was done in the summer of 1966, when gem quality ruby material was recorded on a small island in a lake at the head of the Tasiussarssuaq fjord. At the time, the island had no name, but today it’s called Ruby Island. Greenland Ruby named its mine site, Aappaluttoq, the Greenlandic word for red, to highlight the extraordinary amounts of rough ruby found in the rock.
The discovery of gem quality ruby and pink sapphire in Greenland was key – because they are among the hardest, densest, and most valued gems in the world, members of the mineral species called corundum. Legendary in history, rubies are mentioned four times in the Bible, and were known to the Romans and to various ancient peoples in the East. Throughout human history, rubies have been – and still are – considered the king of gemstones.
Greenlandic ruby and pink sapphire have been described as similar to the quality that is found in parts of Burma and in Mozambique, two important sources of corundum. The gems vary in color from the deep and vibrant red ruby known traditionally in the trade as “Pigeon’s Blood” to the lighter shades of pink (which are pink sapphire). The mine is believed to be the oldest corundum deposit in the world, untouched for a billion years, and twice as old as most other deposits.
The Aappaluttoq mine site, operated by LNS Greenland, has a 30-year operating license to mine ruby and pink sapphire material, ensuring consistency of supply for jewelry assortments and collections.