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I've got the last Keen-Eyed Lapidary card, but I need 5 venom rubies to play it.

Where can I find such things? The wiki doesn't seem to be much help in this regard...

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I just went through a story line in Mahogany Hall that can result in Venom Rubies! (This was added to the game only recently, and is only available for pretty advanced characters.)

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If you're a POSI or you have ~90 skills, obviously you can buy then on the Bazaar Side Streets or get them in Mahogany Hall; yet, since you'll usually want them for Keen-Eyed Lapidary a long time before you're ~100 skills, there actually is a very simple way of getting it not requiring Fate/Nex!

A Wooden Mask - Unpredictable Treasure 41–59. It gives you mainly an assortment of Rubies & Diamonds; getting it one or two times will usually be enough to meet Lapidary's demands. You can easily get that with high enough Watchful (~50 is usually enough) - just "seek a thieves cache" - it takes about 10 supplies and 10 actions to uncover at that Watchful level, and the chance is, AFAIR, 20% (Thieves Cache gives treasures 0-100 AFAIR). Since you can farm Whispered Secrets easily at about 50/action (and you're usually left with some from miscellaneous actions), it usually takes about 100 actions to get the prerequisites for supplies, convert them into supplies and do enough expeditions to find enough rubies - but you also get tons of other high-quality loot - this is exactly why I farmed my Rubies exactly this way.

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You can buy them on the Bazaar Side Streets once you become a Person of Some Importance. (You do that by getting to very high levels and using Opportunity cards.)

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There is an easy way to gain rubies, sapphires and diomonds without spending any fate. You only need a Shadowy of over 40 or so. Go to Spite, go to The Pickpocket's Promenade, go on the longest route available to you. With some clever maneuvering you should be able to acquire 20 Pickpocket's Trophies, which you can then turn in for 6 Venum-rubies, 6 Sapphires, 4 Flawed Diamonds and 3-8 Ostentatious Diamonds. [source]

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After reading this, I wanted to do some grinding on the Pickpocket's Promenade, but couldn't find a good reference for it, so I wrote one. – Martin Ender May 11 '15 at 20:57

It sounds like there may be no way to get them without spending Fate, people seem to say that only Shroom-Hopping will do it. (Having never bought Fate, I can't say.)

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Ugh! If there's one word that's driving me away from that game it's Fate. Thanks for the insight, though. – Stuart Pegg Mar 5 '11 at 9:52
I've been enjoying the game for months without needing to buy Fate. For now, I've been treating the Lapidary as a "uses Fate, must discard" card, but there aren't that many in this category. (I vaguely recall shroom-hopping is cheap, and might be playable at the free Fate level.) – David Dunham Mar 8 '11 at 22:41
Shroom-Hopping costs only 3 Fate, and it moves you to a new area where you can repeat all of the involved storylets, earning as many Venom-Rubies as you'd like from a single Fate use. You won't be sent to the places of Menace, either, so you won't leave until you're good and ready. It's affordable just from the Fate you earn in-game. – Paul Marshall Jan 4 '14 at 2:24
I eventually did play Shroom-Hopping, and it is definitely worth the small amount of Fate. (Which you can occasionally earn for answering surveys.) – David Dunham Jan 4 '14 at 15:24

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