Music Friday: Nat King Cole’s Love Is As ‘Warm As the Ruby’ and As ‘Pure As the Pearl’

Welcome to Music Friday when we often unearth wonderful, but sadly forgotten, songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, we present the immortal Nat King Cole singing “The Ruby and the Pearl,” the theme song to the 1952 film, Thunder in the East.

In this ballad written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, Cole uses gemstones and precious metals to describe his love and devotion. He sings, “Can love be as warm as the ruby? / Can love be as pure as the pearl? / Just look in the heart of my love for you. / You’ll find the ruby and the pearl.”

In a later verse, he sings, “My love will endure as the diamond / And shine with the shimmer of gold. / It glows like a bright star above for you / A thing of beauty to behold.”

Released on Capitol Records only one year after his iconic hit, “Unforgettable,” “The Ruby and the Pearl” peaked at #23 on the U.S. Billboard chart. One online movie reviewer noted that Cole’s beautiful performance of “The Ruby and the Pearl” was the best thing to come out of Thunder in the East, which he called a routine action film.

In 1954, “The Ruby and the Pearl” was included in a 10-inch LP Nat King Cole compilation album called Eight Top Pops.

Born in Montgomery, AL, in 1919 to a Baptist minister and a church organist, Nathanian Adam Coles learned to play the piano at the age of four. He first came to prominence as a jazz pianist, but is most famous for his silky smooth baritone voice. In 1956, he hosted The Nat King Cole Show on NBC, the first variety program to be hosted by an African American.

Nat King Cole's adopted middle name was inspired by the nursery rhyme "Old King Cole." He dropped the "s" from his last name when he started performing in Chicago clubs.

During his abbreviated career (he died of lung cancer in 1965 at the age of 45), Cole released 29 albums and scored 79 Top-40 singles. His famous daughter, singer Natalie Cole, saw her career cut short by congestive heart failure at the age of 55, in 2015.

In 1990, Nat King Cole was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and, in 2000, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 1994, his likeness adorned an official U.S. postage stamp. More than 35 million 29-cent Nat "King" Cole stamps were released on September 1, 1994.

We invite you to enjoy the audio track of Cole’s hypnotizing performance of “The Ruby and the Pearl.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“The Ruby and the Pearl”
Music by Jay Livingston. Lyrics by Ray Evans. Performed by Nat King Cole.

Can love be as warm as the ruby?
Can love be as pure as the pearl?
Just look in the heart of my love for you.
You’ll find the ruby and the pearl.

My love will endure as the diamond
And shine with the shimmer of gold.
It glows as a bright star above for you,
A thing of beauty to behold.

Come close and cling to my kiss.
Stay close and share the passion of this.

Yes, love is as warm as the ruby
And love is as pure as the pearl.
Just look in the heart of my love for you.
You’ll find the ruby and the pearl.

Come close and cling to my kiss.
Come close and share the passion of this.

Yes, love is as warm as the ruby
And love is as pure as the pearl.
Just look in the heart of my love for you.
You’ll find the ruby and the pearl.

Credits: Cleary, Strauss, Irwin & Goodman-publicity, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons. Stamp image by the United States Postal Service, Smithsonian National Postal Museum.