Are All Red Stones Rubies?

经过 Sasha t Apr 04, 2024

Are All Red Stones Rubies?

Today we’re going to take a deep dive into the exquisite world of red gemstones. The color red symbolizes love, passion, desire, and vigor - some of the greatest gifts of humanity. We wanted to take a moment to explore how his color comes to life in our world - the world of fine jewelry - but also understand where these gems come from and what they mean. Though we most associate red gemstones with rubies, the truth is that the world of red gemstones is replete with a variety of stones, each with its own unique charm and characteristics. Before we begin exalting the ruby, let’s take a look at some of these other gems. 

The Garnet 

In the enchanting realm of red gemstones, garnets and red spinels stand out for their unique qualities and history. Garnets are renowned for their rich palette, extending from deep burgundy to vibrant scarlet. Unlike rubies, which owe their color to chromium, garnets derive their hues from a mix of iron, magnesium, and chromium, resulting in a diverse color range. Unlike rubies, garnets can exhibit a broader spectrum of colors, including greens, oranges, and purples, depending on this composition. Beyond their beauty, garnets are steeped in history, symbolizing protection and prosperity. In ancient cultures, warriors adorned garnet amulets for safety in battle, while others cherished them as symbols of love and commitment.

Garnets' versatility extends beyond jewelry; they're used in industrial applications due to their abrasive properties. In the metaphysical realm, garnets are believed to energize wearers, inspire love, and protect against nightmares. Despite their allure and utility, garnets are generally more affordable than rubies, making them a popular choice for a wide range of jewelry styles.


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The Red Spinel

Red spinels, with their ruby-like appearance, have a fascinating history of mistaken identity. These gemstones share the same crystal structure as rubies but have a different chemical composition, which includes magnesium instead of chromium. The most famous red spinels masqueraded as rubies in royal crowns and jewelry, with their true nature only discovered with modern gemological techniques.  The Black Prince's Ruby, adorning the British Imperial State Crown, is one of the most notable examples of such a mix-up. 

What sets red spinels apart is their vibrant color and clarity, often free from the inclusions that characterize rubies. They symbolize calmness and renewal, offering a serene alternative to the fiery ruby. Like garnets, spinels offer a more accessible option for those seeking the allure of red gemstones without the ruby's price tag. 

Advancements in gemological technology have made it easier to distinguish rubies from other red gemstones. Techniques like spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence, and Raman microscopy allow experts to analyze the chemical and structural composition of gemstones, providing conclusive identification. These methods reveal the unique 'fingerprints' of each stone, helping to distinguish natural rubies from synthetic ones and identifying treatments used to enhance a gem's color or clarity. By expanding our understanding beyond rubies to include the entire spectrum of red gemstones, we gain a deeper appreciation for the diversity and complexity of the gemological world. Whether it's the rich history of a ruby, the misunderstood identity of a spinel, or the wide-ranging hues of garnets, each red gemstone has its own story to tell, contributing to the colorful tapestry of gemology.

Enough about the “other” red gemstones, let’s get to the star of the show. Let’s talk about Rubies. 

What is a Ruby?

A ruby is, of course, a precious gemstone known for its vibrant red color. Ruby is a variety of the mineral corundum, ranking 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, just below diamonds. Rubies are highly valued for their color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.

The word "ruby" traces its etymology to the Latin word "ruber," meaning red, which perfectly captures the gemstone's defining characteristic. This term evolved through various languages over centuries, reflecting the ruby's enduring allure across different cultures. In ancient Sanskrit, rubies were called "ratnaraj," meaning the king of precious stones, highlighting their esteemed status. The ruby's name not only signifies its color but also embodies the gem's historical and cultural significance, symbolizing passion, protection, and prosperity. Through time, the ruby has maintained its position as one of the most coveted gemstones, celebrated for its vibrant hue and rarity.

In the realm of gemstones, rubies have a 'twin' called sapphires. Both are varieties of the mineral corundum, differentiated only by their color. While any corundum that's not red is called sapphire, only the deep red variety earns the title of ruby. This distinction is crucial in the gemological world, where the value and classification of a stone can significantly alter based on its color categorization.

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What Is in Ruby?

A ruby's essence is in its composition—corundum, imbued with chromium, iron, and titanium, which dictate its color and luminosity. The interplay of these elements, along with the conditions under which the ruby forms, determines the intensity and hue of the red, making each stone a unique piece of natural art. All rubies are red, yet they can have orange, pink or purple tint.

How Are Rubies Formed?

Rubies are formed under intense heat and pressure deep within the Earth's crust, where the corundum interacts with chromium, giving the ruby its distinctive red color. This process occurs over millions of years, typically in marble or basalt environments, which provide the necessary conditions for ruby formation. The presence of chromium is crucial, as it's responsible for the gemstone's red hue, distinguishing it from sapphires, which as we noted above are also made of corundum but lack chromium.

Where do Rubies Come From? 

The journey of a ruby from its geological birth to the final cut and polish is a tale of transformation. Formed under conditions of extreme pressure and heat, rubies are primarily found in marble and basalt rocks, where the right combination of elements and environmental factors give rise to their formation. The mining of rubies, an endeavor that often involves considerable human effort and impact, brings these hidden treasures to light.

Natural formation of rubies can result from two different processes - Marbled and Basalt. Rubies hosted in marble form under excessive temperature and pressure, ultimately forming a flawless ruby just under the earth’s crust. This takes years and years.e.

Where Are Rubies Found?

Rubies are found in various locations across the globe, each imparting unique characteristics to the stones. The journey to discover where rubies are found takes us from the lush landscapes of Myanmar to the rugged terrains of Mozambique.

Let’s start with Myanmar, historically known as Burma, which is renowned for producing some of the finest rubies, particularly from the Mogok Valley - often called the "Valley of Rubies." These Burmese rubies are celebrated for their vibrant "pigeon's blood" color, a term that connoisseurs and collectors use to describe the perfect, traffic-light red hue with a hint of blue. 

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In Thailand, we find another significant source of rubies. The Thai rubies, especially those from the Bo Rai and Nong Bon regions, were once abundant and appreciated for their deep, dark red colors. However, Thai rubies generally possess a darker, more brownish hue compared to their Burmese counterparts.

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In Africa, Mozambique has emerged as a major ruby producer with its Montepuez mine being one of the largest deposits discovered in recent times. Mozambican rubies are known for their high quality, vibrant colors, and relative affordability, making them increasingly popular in the gemstone market.

Sri Lanka, another key player in the ruby market, offers a variety of gemstones, including rubies, which are typically lighter in color. The island's rubies, often found in riverbeds, are known for their pinkish hues.

Madagascar, since the late 1990s, has also become an important source of rubies. The deposits found in the northern part of the island are relatively new to the market but have quickly gained recognition for their quality and color.

In addition to these countries, rubies are found in Vietnam, Cambodia, India, and even the United States, in Montana. Each location produces rubies with distinct characteristics influenced by the geological conditions in which they form.

How Can You Tell If a Ruby Is Real?

In the glittering world of gemstones, telling a real ruby from an imposter is a skill as valuable as the stones themselves. Real rubies possess unique characteristics: aside from their durability on the Mohs scale,  under magnification, real rubies reveal their story through inclusions, tiny imperfections that, rather than detracting from the gem's beauty, serve as proof of its natural journey from the earth's depths. Synthetics and fakes might mimic the color, but they can't replicate the depth and the complex internal landscape of a real ruby. Tools like the loupe or microscope reveal these tales, distinguishing the genuine from the artificial.

What Does a Ruby Symbolize?

Rubies, with their deep red hue, have been symbols of passion, power, and protection for millennia. Throughout history, they have adorned the regalia of kings and queens to symbolize their wealth, status and authority, they’ve been embedded in the armor of warriors for protection in battle, and have been thought to guide those who wear them. These gemstones are often associated with vitality and life due to their color, reminiscent of blood, which is the force of life. 

In various cultures, rubies are considered to embody love and passion, making them popular gifts in romantic relationships. They are thought to attract and maintain love, as well as inspire more courageous and passionate living. Additionally, rubies are seen as talismans that can ward off evil and harm, bringing peace and promoting healthy, vibrant living.

Beyond their emotional and spiritual symbolism, rubies also have a practical aspect. They are considered a marker of success and are believed to bring prosperity and success to their owners. In business, rubies are often kept as stones of motivation and setting high goals.

In astrology, rubies are associated with the sun, symbolizing vitality and strength. They are considered powerful stones for those born under the sun sign Leo, enhancing their natural leadership qualities, confidence, and strength.

The connection between rubies and nobility remains strong, with these gemstones still seen as symbols of luxury and high status. In modern times, rubies continue to be treasured for their beauty and symbolism, embodying a timeless allure that crosses cultural and geographic boundaries. 

Rubies also play a significant role in various religious and cultural ceremonies around the world, embodying virtues and ideals revered in different traditions. Rubies, with their vibrant red hue, hold significant roles in cultural ceremonies across different regions. For instance, in Hindu weddings, rubies are often incorporated into bridal jewelry as a symbol of prosperity and passion. In Chinese tradition, rubies are considered sacred and represent spiritual wisdom, grounding and protecting the wearer.  Ruby is also used in alternative healing practices, such as Reiki. It is believed to have the power to balance the heart chakra and promote love and compassion. In royal regalia, they symbolize power and protection, often set into crowns and scepters. These practices underline the ruby's enduring cultural significance, embodying various virtues and sentiments across global traditions.Their enduring legacy and symbolism make them more than just gemstones; they are storied objects that carry the weight of human beliefs, values, and aspirations across generations.

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What Is Ruby Used For?

While their beauty is undisputed, rubies' applications extend beyond jewelry. Their hardness and durability make them invaluable in industrial applications, from watch bearings to medical instruments. In the realm of technology, ruby's optical properties are harnessed in lasers, where they are used to produce concentrated beams of light.

Ruby Jewelry throughout history

 In ancient times, civilizations such as the Greeks and Romans valued rubies for their beauty and perceived protective powers. They were often set in elaborate gold jewelry, signifying wealth and status.

During The Middle Ages , rubies were emblematic of nobility and valor, often worn by royalty and knights. They were believed to provide protection in battle and were set in rings, crowns, and other regal adornments.

During the Renaissance era, ruby jewelry signified wealth, wisdom, and love. Artisans incorporated rubies into intricate designs, often surrounded by pearls and diamonds, reflecting the era's artistic revival. The gemstones were set in gold, showcasing the period's advancements in metalwork and gemstone cutting. Rubies adorned various pieces, from pendants and brooches to rings and necklaces, symbolizing not only social status but also protection and passion, aligning with the period's humanistic values and the flourishing of arts and culture. 

During the Victorian era, ruby jewelry symbolized love and passion, reflecting the period's romantic sensibilities. Jewelry designs were intricate, often incorporating rubies in combination with diamonds and pearls. Mourning jewelry also became prevalent, with rubies symbolizing the heart. This era saw a variety of ruby jewelry pieces, including brooches, rings, earrings, and necklaces, often set in gold with detailed craftsmanship, reflecting the Victorian fascination with symbolism, sentimentality, and the natural world.

In the Art Deco era, ruby jewelry exemplified the period's fascination with bold, geometric designs and vibrant colors. Rubies were often set alongside diamonds, onyx, and other gemstones in platinum or white gold settings to create striking contrasts. The use of rubies added a rich, warm hue that complemented the era's innovative and stylized motifs, reflecting the sophistication and modernity of the time. Jewelry like brooches, bracelets, rings, and necklaces featured clean lines and symmetrical patterns, embodying the Art Deco movement's aesthetic ideals.

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What Birthstone Is Ruby?

Rubies claim July as their month, representing those born under the summer sun with a stone that's said to bring love, energy, and passion. As the birthstone for July, rubies are thought to enhance vitality and strength, offering protection and bringing good fortune to those who wear them. Rubies are not just admired for their aesthetic appeal but are also valued for their ability to foster emotional strength, inspire confidence, and promote a deep sense of contentment and well-being

Taking Care of Rubies

Cleaning rubies, like any precious gemstone, requires careful attention to preserve their luster and integrity. Given their hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, rubies are durable but not invincible. They can be affected by harsh chemicals and abrasive materials, so gentle cleaning is paramount to maintain their vibrant beauty.

To clean a ruby, start with a simple mixture of mild soap and lukewarm water. Immersing the ruby in this solution allows for a gentle loosening of any dirt or oils that have accumulated on the stone. Using a soft brush, such as a toothbrush with soft bristles, can help target the grime without scratching the gemstone's surface. It's crucial to brush gently, focusing on areas where dirt tends to accumulate, like the back of the gemstone or the settings in jewelry.

After scrubbing, rinse the ruby thoroughly under lukewarm water to remove any soap residue. It's essential to ensure the water flow is gentle to avoid loosening the settings or causing any other damage. Once rinsed, pat the ruby dry with a soft, lint-free cloth, taking care not to rub it vigorously as this could cause scratches.

For rubies set in delicate jewelry, extra caution should be taken to avoid damaging the setting. Avoid using ultrasonic cleaners or steam cleaners, as these can loosen the setting or harm the gemstone. If the ruby is heavily soiled or if you're unsure about the cleaning process, consult a jeweler who  can provide deep cleaning without risking the gem's integrity, ensuring your ruby remains a timeless treasure. 

The legacy of rubies is a testament to humanity's enduring fascination with the natural world's beauty and mystery. Rubies remind us of our connection to the earth, the richness of our cultural heritages, and the universal human quest for meaning and beauty. Whether set in a piece of jewelry, adorning a royal scepter, or utilized in a laser, rubies continue to captivate and inspire, holding a place of reverence in the human heart across time and cultures.

When we think about the multifaceted significance of this exquisite gemstone, we are reminded of the enduring allure of rubies—an allure that transcends time and connects us to the past, enhances our present, and continues to shine brightly into the future.

At Jack Weir & Sons, we’ve spent the last 40 years traveling to Europe and all over the world, curating extraordinary estate jewels. JWS is where the old world meets the new world. Celebrate life, preserve history, and discover your own priceless heirloom jewel. We are extremely grateful for our clients and the ability to help people celebrate their special moments through one-of-a-kind jewelry. To share that gratitude and our strong family values, we chose to partner with Baby2Baby. So far, we've donated $125,000. A portion of every sale goes towards children living in poverty to provide them with diapers, clothing, and all the basic necessities that every child deserves. 

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