Rubies have long been valued for their incredible hardness and brilliant color. Unlike some gemstones, they are not graded on a precise, universal scale, but there are some characteristics that most jewelers use to rate a ruby’s quality. Learn how to determine the quality of a ruby, choose a setting for a piece of jewelry, and find out more about how rubies are mined and processed. Some ruby mining is associated with human rights violations or environmental disasters, but there are some alternative sources that avoid contributing to these problems.
- 1 Evaluate a ruby
- 1.1 Choose a karat that suits your budget and preferences.
- 1.2 Choose a cut.
- 1.3 Pick a color.
- 1.4 If you’re buying online, look for a company with a return policy.
- 1.5 Hold the ruby up to bright light.
- 1.6 Check the saturation.
- 1.7 Look at the tone of the ruby.
- 1.8 Determine the purity of the ruby.
- 1.9 Learn how rubies are treated.
- 2 Choose the frame
- 3 Find out about ruby sources
Evaluate a ruby
Choose a karat that suits your budget and preferences.
Carat (ct) is a unit of measurement for the size of the gemstone. In general, the larger a stone, the more expensive it is. However, there are often significant jumps in price at 1.3 and 5 carats and you will likely get a better deal if you select a 0.9ct, 2.9ct or 4.9ct ruby instead. Remember that karat is about aesthetics as much as value; someone with slimmer fingers or a less ostentatious taste may prefer a smaller stone.
- As a rough guide, a one-carat ruby that costs less than $250 is more likely to be considered “commercial quality” rather than “premium quality.” From $700 and up, you can expect a high standard. From $10,000 and up, the ruby should be exceptional and rare.
- Lab-made rubies typically sell for around 85-90% of the price of a natural ruby of the same quality.
- Because larger rubies are rare, the price increases faster than the size. A commercial quality five-carat ruby might sell for ten times more than a similar one-carat ruby, while a high-quality five-carat ruby (which is quite rare) would sell for twenty-five times more than a similar one-carat ruby.
Choose a cut.
Pick a color.
Ruby catalogs or websites might list this under color or tint. Pure red or red with a purple tint is the most expensive variety, but there are also high-quality rubies in orange-red, pink, or pink. Choosing a color is a matter of personal preference.
- If you are interested in pink rubies, then also look for pink sapphires. Sapphires and rubies are made from the same mineral, corundum, and are classified as one stone or the other based on color. Pink gems can be classified either way.
- Pink rubies may be more sought after in Asia than in western countries and therefore worth more on the continent.
- Some companies will try to describe the color based on the area of the world they are from, but this system is not accurate.
If you’re buying online, look for a company with a return policy.
Hold the ruby up to bright light.
Inside the ruby, you may see one or more black or gray spots called absorbance that light doesn’t reach. The more of them there are, the lower the value of the ruby. Move the stone back and forth in the light to see how the absorbances are visible from different angles. If you absolutely dislike this trait, lighter colors and shallower cuts tend to have lower absorbances, but they may have other issues such as being window-like (a transparent appearance, like looking through a window) and less brilliance.
Check the saturation.
This measure is also called purity or intensity of color and should be included in the description of the ruby. Vivid rubies are the brightest in color and are the most valuable, closely followed by strong rubies. A medium, light, or low saturation means the ruby’s color is streaked with distinct hints of brown or gray, making the colorless clear.
- This classification is based on a jeweler’s judgment and is not a scientific measure.
Look at the tone of the ruby.
Determine the purity of the ruby.
Many rubies contain “inclusions” or materials visibly trapped within the gemstone. A clear stone is usually more valuable. However, some ruby collectors appreciate the unique appearance that inclusions give to a stone. Silky inclusions of a mineral called rutile can impart a luster that is much appreciated. When these inclusions are arranged in a star shape, the ruby is rare and a valuable “star ruby”.
- There is no standard system for judging the purity of a ruby. A common system rates the stone from 1 (perfectly clean) to 4 (many inclusions).
- She shares another frequently used system from F (‘flawless’, dt. immaculate), VVS (‘very very small inclusions’, dt. very very small inclusions), VS (‘very small, visible under magnification’, dt. very small, visible with a magnifying glass), SI (‘small inclusions, barely visible to the eye’) and I (‘inclusions easily visible to the eye’). inclusions visible to the eye).
Learn how rubies are treated.
Choose the frame
Choose a metal based on your preferences and budget.
Set large gemstones in a “prong setting”.
Use a bezel setting to hold the stones in place.
Inquire about the possibilities for a stone row.
Find out about ruby sources
Consider a lab-made ruby for cheaper quality.
Rubies created in the lab are chemically identical to natural rubies, making them just as durable and attractive. They are almost always cheaper than a natural ruby of similar quality as the manufacturing process is cheaper than locating and mining natural rubies. Lab-made rubies are a particularly good choice if you are concerned about the human rights abuses and environmental impact of ruby mining, which can be significant.
- They are often called synthetic rubies. Don’t confuse them with imitation or artificial rubies, which are not real rubies and are much less durable and bright.
Star rubies are considered very attractive, but natural star rubies are extremely rare and, unlike lab-made ones, very expensive.
Look for “recycled” gems.
About 98% of all rubies that are sold have been on the market for decades as rubies are extremely difficult to destroy. Some companies specifically market their stones as ‘recycled’ stones sourced from private individuals or resellers, arguing that there is no new environmental impact.
- Critics note that buying new rubies encourages the gem-mining population.
Find out more about rubies from Myanmar.
Most of the world’s rubies come from Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma. While older rubies may have come from the famous Mogôk Valley, they now typically come from the Möng Hsu region. Due to the history of the region and the many famous rubies that were mined there, rubies from Myanmar have special prestige. Due to violations of human rights by the Myanmar government, the import of new rubies from the region is banned by the US and Canada and has recently been banned by the European Union as well. The crimson rubies are known as “pigeon blood” come from this area and are extremely valuable.