Simple Guide to Rubies

by Jack Weir on Nov 18, 2020

Simple Guide to Rubies - Jack Weir & Sons

Now that we’ve covered all the jewelry eras, we are happy to dive deeper and get into the specifics of the gemstone world. This week we will be discussing rubies. One of the oldest, most precious, and cherished gemstones across all civilizations and decades. For centuries, rubies have been a symbol of luxury and lore. But rubies are more than just their beautiful guise. There have been biblical references, and cases of mistaken identity. This is a mystical gemstone that you would want to learn more about. 


In this blog post you will learn

  • Ruby’s Main Characteristics
  • History and Folklore
  • Famous Rubies
  • Synthetic Rubies and Ruby Treatments
Bulgari Trombino Star Ruby ringRuby’s Main Characteristics
Ruby is a blood-red colored gemstone, which derives from the mineral corundum. Sapphires are also corundum and besides the most known blue, they can come in a large variety of colors like green, yellow, and others. However, only the red tones are considered a ruby. Pink corundum is sometimes referred to as pink sapphire and other times is referred to as pink ruby depending on the hue, region, and personal opinion. Ruby gets its red coloring from trace amounts of chromium. The word “ruby” comes from “ruber”, which is Latin for red. 
Pigeon Blood Ruby Diamond RingThe most valuable shade is vivid red, also known as “pigeon blood”, and it commands a large premium over other shades of rubies. In addition to color, clarity and crystal material determines value. It's extremely rare to find clean vibrant rubies, making these stones extremely desirable. Origin is another value-determining factor. The most precious rubies come from Myanmar (formerly Burma), they have a rich red color. Based on the origin, the term “Burmese ruby” was created to describe the finest rubies. The last big factor determining value is natural untreated stones. 
Ruby protective properties benefits

History and Folklore 

Rubies have been known as a symbol of power, wealth, royalty, and protection. When worn as a talisman, ruby was believed to help protect warriors in battle. Even in The Wizard of Oz, Dorthy's ruby slippers were thought to protect her from evil. Moreover, Rubies are referenced 4 different times in the bible. The Bible associates these gems with beauty and wisdom. According to ancient folklore, the people of India believed rubies would help them be at peace with their enemies. 

Famous Rubies

Sunrise ruby Sunrise Ruby -  25.59 carat Sunrise Ruby was sold for $30.42 million or $1.18 million/carat. Originally mined in Myanmar, its current name is derived from a poem of the same name, written by the 13th-century Sufi poet Rumi. 


Elizabeth Taylor Ruby Diamond Cluster

In 2011, an 8.24-carat ruby ring belonging to Elizabeth Taylor and made by Van Cleef & Arpels sold at auction for $4.2 million, with the price per carat amounting to approximately $500,000.

Hope Ruby ring

The "Hope Ruby" weighs 32.08 carats and it was sold for $6.74 million.  




Black Prince's Ruby Spinel Crown"The Black Prince's Ruby"

The center red stone is red spinel which assumed to be a ruby until scientists discovered it was a completely different gemstone in the late 18th century! One of the most famous examples of this mistaken identity is the “The Black Prince’s Ruby”, a 170-carat irregular spinel bead that has been in the British Royal Family’s possession since 1367. 


Synthetic Rubies and Ruby Treatments 

Just like emeralds, almost all rubies have some type of imperfection, which helps in identifying synthetic stones. Synthetic rubies can be identified by their lack of inclusions. Sometimes rubies are heated to enhance their color and durability. 

The Bottom Line
If you are looking for a top-quality ruby, make sure what you are purchasing is certified by AGL, SSEF, Gubelin, GIA or another credible laboratory. You should look for “No indication of treatment”, “Unheated” and similar wordings. Treated rubies can also look very nice and be more affordable, so it’s entirely up to you!

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