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Ruby Overview

Rubies have been one of the most sought-after stones throughout history and are still immensely popular today. Like their sister stone, the sapphire, rubies are precious gemstones made from the mineral corundum. In ancient history, rubies have been said to bring beauty and wisdom. Today, rubies are symbols of passion as well as wealth and success. As well as for their lush color, notable hardness, and association with religion, rubies continue to enjoy popularity today.

Rubies are known for their shades of red. Its color is obtained from the presence of chromium in the mineral corundum. Chromium is a trace element, and when it becomes part of the mineral's crystal structure, it causes variations in color ranging from orange-red to deep purple-red. The presence of chromium is directly correlated with the strength of the color; the more chromium is present in the mineral, the stronger the color will be. There are other trace elements that can also be found in the corundum, such as aluminum, iron, and magnesium. The presence of these elements creates the variety of colors found in Ruby's sister stone, the Sapphire.

On the Mohs scale of hardness, rubies are a 9, making them the second hardest gemstone (alongside sapphires) after diamonds. The durability of rubies helps to make it a popular choice for engagement rings and bracelets as it is able to withstand the wear and tear of daily life.

While rubies are best known for their deep red color, they vary in shade, intensity, and transparency. They can also have a secondary hue or undertone, such as orange or purple. Some rubies are transparent pinkish-red; others can be deep red or borderline opaque. Like all other gemstones, imperfections exist in rubies, which contribute to their unique appearance. These imperfections can include small silk or feather inclusions and, in some rare cases, form an asterism known as a "star ruby.".

Rubies have long been associated with royalty and celebrities throughout history. Queen Elizabeth of England is known for her collection of ruby jewelry, which includes an Edwardian-style diamond and ruby necklace as well as a Ruby Tiara gifted by the people of Burma. Hollywood film legend Elizabeth Taylor was gifted a ruby necklace designed by Cartier; at the time, it was one of the most desired and replicated necklaces among women. In 2011, this necklace was auctioned for charity at Christie's for a whopping $115 million—the most valuable jewelry auction in history! Tablet PCs from current celebrities like Victoria Beckham's oval-cut ruby engagement ring have reignited the ruby's popularity among a new generation of gemstone aficionados. 

Ruby Pricing and Quality Factors

Like sapphires, the quality and cost of rubies are based on three major factors: color, clarity, and transparency. Other factors that can contribute to a ruby's quality and overall cost are its weight, mining origin, and the treatment applied.



Color is the most important quality factor for rubies and is the primary driver of value. The general rule is that as the color saturation of a ruby increases, the value increases. However, as the color of a ruby becomes oversaturated and eventually opaque, the price drops substantially. A very light-colored ruby and an overly dark or opaque ruby will generally command a similar price. Below is our own J.T.C. color grading system for the various different ruby color types:





Colored gems do not have a standardized grading system, and it is extremely rare to find a ruby with no visible imperfections. This is in stark contrast to diamonds, which have a standardized grading system and utilize magnification to inspect clarity. In the wholesale trade, we evaluate ruby clarity using the following methodology:

(1) Holding the ruby face up 12 inches from the observer's eye

(2) Tilting them in various directions to visually inspect if any inclusions are visible.

(3) Only imperfections viewable on the crown (top part of the gemstone) are inspected, not the pavilion (back side).

The ruby clarity gradings listed below are those we employ and that the majority of our jeweler clients frequently use: