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.

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. 

The cut of a gemstone describes how the gemstone was cut by a jeweler. The shape is a matter of preference, although most rubies are cut oval, rounded (a rounded rectangle) or round. Heart-shaped or emerald (a rectangle with corners cut off) are other relatively common options, but due to lower demand, they may be slightly cheaper compared to a gem of similar quality with a different 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.

While you can select the basic characteristics listed above when shopping online, it is extremely difficult to assess a Ruby in more detail from a photo. Sellers who deal in gemstones online provide information using the metrics described below, but even if they are telling the truth, you might not find the ruby ​​beautiful when it gets to you. If you need to buy ruby ​​online, always make sure you have a return policy and read reviews about the store online to avoid scams. When the ruby ​​arrives, inspect it according to the criteria below and send it back and get your money back or a replacement if it doesn’t meet your standards.

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 mediumlight, 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. 

A ruby’s tone is a description of the color present, ranging from very dark to very lightMedium tone rubies tend to be the most valuable, but this comes down to personal preference. 

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. 

Natural, untreated rubies are rare and expensive. Almost all rubies are heat treated by the jeweler to intensify their color. This treatment is widely accepted as it does not affect the durability of the stone and improves its appearance. However, when the stone has been treated with surface diffusion or fracture filling, external material has been added to correct the ruby’s imperfections. These rubies tend to be less valuable due to the temporary nature of the treatment. 

buy ruby

Choose the frame

Choose a metal based on your preferences and budget. 

Rubies are often set in white gold, but the metal you choose will depend on personal preference. If you’re buying the ruby ​​as a gift for someone, try to find out what metals were used in their other jewelry. Lower karat precious metals are cheaper, but they can also be less lustrous and dull.

Set large gemstones in a “prong setting”. 

With a claw setting, metal claws hold the edge of the gemstone in place. This holds the gem securely in place and is a popular option for larger stones. 

Use a bezel setting to hold the stones in place.

 A bezel setting, or metal rim, fits tightly around the gemstone to hold it in place. This is another setting for large gemstones, as is the half-bezel setting, which encompasses part of the stone. 

Inquire about the possibilities for a stone row. 

If the piece of jewelry contains several smaller stones, none of the above options may be necessary to set them. Consider designs such as “paved” (small, precious metal balls), “lined up” (a notch containing the stones), or “invisible” (using notches cut into the gems, fastening them without a metal perimeter. 
ruby diamond

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.

Think about other countries of origin. 

Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Thailand, and various African nations export rubies, or did in the past, but these sources tend to ebb and flourish as new mines are discovered and emptied. None of these sources are as famous as the stones from Myanmar, but some of them are preferable due to respect for human rights or environmental protection. The governments of Tanzania, Ghana, and Zimbabwe are all trying to limit the environmental impact of the mines, with limited success, as individuals or small groups involved in mining do not have the money to comply with environmental protection regulations. Rubies mined in the US are subject to environmental regulations, but they represent only a small portion of the world’s rubies.

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