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How to Shop for Ruby Jewelry


Carmen Lucia Ruby

Carmen Lucia Ruby

Photo by Alex Wong / Getty Images
Rubies are the 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.

If you were born in July, ruby is your birthstone, but ruby jewelry is a universal favorite, and because we associate the color red with the feelings of love and passion, it's no wonder that ruby jewelry is always in demand.

Ruby Hardness

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

Ruby Color Variations

  • Vivid, intense reds similar to the Burmese ruby shown in the photograph 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.

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.

Where Are Rubies Found?

  • 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.

Ruby Variations

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

Synthetic Rubies

  • 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.

Before You Buy Ruby Jewelry

  • 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.

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