Natural Ruby Basics

What You Should Know Before You Shop for Ruby Jewelry

Ruby Gemstones, July Birthstone Facts
Jim Simmen/Photographer's Choice RF

Rubies are pinkish red members of the corundum family of minerals. Corundum of any other color -- blue, pink, yellow, and many others -- is called sapphire.

Natural ruby shades vary from light to dark red, and rubies often have undertones, such as a purplish cast. The variations add to the charm and individuality of each gemstone.

Even though ruby is the birthstone of July, ruby jewelry is a universal favorite.

Maybe it's because we associate the color red with the feelings of love and passion. The intense and romantic hues add elegance and luxury to any jewelry design so it's no wonder that ruby jewelry is always in demand.

Before you drop a pretty penny on one of the four precious gemstones, make sure you learn some natural ruby jewelry basics first. 

 

1. Ruby Hardness Makes the Gemstone Very Durable

  • Rubies are rated at 9 on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Compare that to diamonds at 10 and turquoise, which is a relatively soft at 5-6.

 

2. Ruby Color Variations Impact Value

  • Vivid, intense reds similar to the Burmese ruby are in demand and considered the most desirable gemstones.

     

  • Some rubies are red with yellowish to orange tones.

     

  • Some rubies are red with blue to purple tones.

 

3. There Are Common Ruby Treatments

  • Nearly all rubies are treated with heat to improve color and clarity.

     

  • Dyes are sometimes used to intensify ruby color.

     

  • Coatings are used to camouflage surface fractures. Coatings will wear off in time.

 

4. Rubies from Certain Parts of the World are More Valuable

 

  • Burmese rubies are considered among the most beautiful examples of the gemstone.

     

  • Other important sources of quality rubies include Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya and Afghanistan.

     

  • Rubies of varying quality are found in other parts of the world, including the United States.

 

5. Star Ruby is a Unique Ruby Variation

  • Some translucent rubies cut into cabochons (smooth domes) produce a star with six rays that stretch across the domed surface.

 

6. Synthetic Rubies Can Be Hard to Spot

  • Like many other popular gemstones, rubies can be created in a laboratory. Lab gems are an affordable choice when you're buying a ruby, but the stone's origins should always be disclosed.

 

7. Buy Ruby Jewelry From Reputable Dealers

  • Large, high-quality, natural rubies are very rare and expensive and should be accompanied by a report from a qualified gem lab that certifies their authenticity.

     

  • Buy ruby jewelry from reputable dealers who know what they are selling and who disclose all treatments that have been performed on the gemstones.

 

Now you should be ready to shop for ruby jewelry, but if you're still not sure what to buy, learn more about the differences between natural and synthetic gemstones.

If you're ready to get a little muddy, come along with me for a virtual trip to a ruby mine in Franklin, North Carolina, where you'll find rubies that can be cut and mounted into the setting of your choice.

Edited by: Lauren Thomann