Rubies Are These Girls Best Friends

Rubies Are These Girls’ Best Friends

Ramaura™ Cultured Rubies, That Is.

by J.O. Crystal Co.Virginia Carter and Judith Osmer


Judith Osmer and Virginia Carter grow rubies. Not a day goes by without them asking how on earth they became the proud owners of such a unique business. Trained as scientists, it never occurred to either woman that they would become owners of a company known world wide for its cultured rubies.

The Ramaura™ Cultured Ruby today is poised in the world market at the same point cultured pearls were in the early 1900’s. Sure there are natural rubies out there, but the mines are producing fewer and fewer really good gemstones. Prices for the naturals have skyrocketed! Enter The Ramaura™ Cultured Ruby.

It all began 30 years ago. Judith was a struggling college student working as a lab technician at Hughes Research Labs in Malibu, CA. With the invention of the ruby laser research was suddenly concentrated on how ruby grows. Judith did some of that research and got hooked. Soon she was trying to figure out how to grow a ruby that looked like the mysterious fiery gem that has captivated people since time began.

Years of research and little by little Judith figured it out! Now, how to begin a Company?

Virginia Carter entered the picture shortly after Judith began her quest. They met at the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo. Virginia, a physicist whose research concentrated on studies of the high atmosphere, was intrigued by Judith’s efforts to grow gemstones. After a while, and to her own astonishment, Virginia went to work in Hollywood where she contributed what she could to the production of half hour comedies. She made much more money than she needed!

Why not invest in a Ruby Company?!

They acquired an industrial building. Judith bought a high temperature furnace and a number of pure platinum pots to hold her rubies as they grew. She designed and built a ruby producing laboratory. She quit her job at Aerospace!

Before putting the rubies on the market, samples were sent to the Gemological Institute of America. Weeks passed and then a call came asking Judith to meet with the powers at G.I.A. Shuffling feet, clearing throats and it eventually became clear that G.I.A, the most authoritative voice in the field of gemstones in the world, was not always able to distinguish Judith’s highest quality Ramauras from natural rubies. They asked that Ramaura Cultured Rubies not be put on the market until Judith could figure out some way to make them identifiable.



Back to the drawing board.

Six months later Judith announced the Ramaura™ Cultured Ruby to the gemstone world. The result of those extra months is that every Ramaura on the market glows under a black light at a slightly different wavelength than would a natural ruby. Judith has added just a pinch of something to mark her rubies as Ramaura. You can’t cut it out, you can’t polish it off. It’s there to stay.

Is that enough to stop the cheaters? Who knows. One thing is certain. At least several times each year they get a call from some bozo asking them to leave that Ramaura tag out. If they will just do that, bozo will buy every bit of ruby they can produce.

It is now 15 years since the J.O. Crystal Company was started. Virginia has moved her office from television production to ruby production. One furnace has grown to six. The FAX machine purrs bringing orders from Surabaya Indonesia, Hong Kong and Scranton, PA. Everything that is produced is sold. The bank account bulges.

Every now and then in the middle of a frantically busy day Judith and Virginia ponder the following question… Why not produce a half dozen top quality 5-carat rubies and forget to tag them. Mount them in conservative nineteenth century estate jewelry and sell them for the best price they can command, no muss no fuss, early retirement…

Nah, who wants to be a bozo.


Copyright, 1998 by J.O. Crystal Co. – Virginia Carter and Judith Osmer

Electric Lapidary, Carol J. Bova, Editor.
Volume II, Number 5 April, 1998


Judith A. Osmer is profiled in the GIA Gem Identification course’s People & Gems series for her work on growing synthetic crystal materials. She formed J.O. Crystal Company in 1983 with physicist Virginia Carter, who is the company president. The GIA piece notes that, “Many consider it (Ramaura™ cultured ruby) to be among the most natural-looking synthetic rubies available.”


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