The Ruby an Ancient but Everlasting Gemstone
Ruby is the birthstone for the month of July and it is one of the original birthstones from Exodus in the bible. Coming from the Latin ruber, which means red, ruby is a corundum.
What is the difference between ruby and sapphire?
When corundum is found it can be a host of different colours: red, pink, yellow, blue, green, brown and more. When it is pink or red it is called ruby. When it is any other colour it is called sapphire.
Both rubies and sapphires are very good gemstones. They display great colour and are very hard. On the Moh’s scale diamond is the hardest and is 10 while ruby and sapphire are 9 which is very good as your gemstone jewellery will not crack and scratch as easily as some other gemstones.
The most cherished ruby is the vibrant, sparkly mid to dark red although it should always be personal taste rather than what other people think which should dictate your choice.
Where do rubies come from?
Rubies come from many parts of the globe: Australia, Asia, Africa and even the USA. The best come from one region named the Mogok Valley in Myanmar. However, it seems that the best rubies have been mined out from this region.
Why are some rubies better than others?
Like most gemstones rubies gain value by the size, colour, clarity and the way that the stone cutter does his or her job. Rubies have inclusions, or imperfections, inside them. Sometimes these inclusions are beneficial to the value of the stone as they make it more interesting. Most times they are not beneficial and are filled in or the ruby is heat treated. At temperatures around 3000 degrees the colour of the stone changes and the inclusions often disappear. One type of inclusion called rutile needles is referred to as silk and will be present most of the time.
You may have heard of star sapphires. Well, there are also star rubies. This is a phenomenon called asterism and occurs in stones which have not been faceted but cut into a cabochon which is the common cut for opal. It comes from a mediaeval French word for hat. It is the smooth rounded shape similar to a bowler hat.
You can actually see a star shaped formation in the stone and it is very attractive.
In fact, the biggest ruby in the world, the Rajaratna Ruby, is a star ruby.
Are there synthetic rubies?
Yes there are. First produced in 1837 they are not difficult to make and for that reason they are cheap. Most of the rubies you see around you in the street and at work are likely to be synthetic. The smallest rubies that I buy are real as they are cheap and plentiful and the difference in cost between real and synthetic is so small that I prefer the real ones. My customers still prefer me to present them with real rubies. As the size demanded increases then synthetic stones usually win over as the price increases for real rubies.
When you are choosing a ruby know that real rubies are rare and thus expensive and that they will have inclusions and imperfections as it is nearly impossible to find them without. But they are not a bad thing as they usually give the stone character and beauty. Understand that nearly all rubies have been heat treated in order to show the very best colour that they can. This is not something to be concerned about at all. Choose a stone that you like and enjoy it forever.