Ruby – July’s birthstone, is one of the most ancient and rare gemstones. In Sanskrit, ruby is ratnaraj, meaning the king of gems.
- Ruby is associated with affection, passion, power and enthusiasm.
- In ancient cultures such as Indian, Latin and Greek, Ruby was sacred and was sought after by both the influential as well as the royals, world-wide.
- Ruby derives its name from Ruber, a Latin word meaning Red.
- It was used as a medication for blood and heart-related diseases and some used it as a talisman for protection during battles.
- It is the birthstone for July as well as the featured gem for the 15th and 40th wedding anniversary.
Ruby can command the highest price of any colored stone.
For example: One of the most expensive ruby rings ever sold was, The Sunrise Ruby and Diamond Ring by Cartier and it sold for $30,335,698.00.
This extraordinary ring broke all records. The center gemstone was a 25.59-carat untreated Mogok, pigeon blood color, Burmese ruby.
Ruby is clearly, one of the most important gems in the colored stone market, often with carat prices far exceeding that of diamond.
What is a Ruby?
Rubies are part of the corundum mineral species, which include both ruby and sapphire.
In its purest form, the mineral corundum is colorless.
Trace elements that become part of the mineral’s crystal structure cause variations in its color. Chromium is the trace element that makes a ruby red.
While rubies can vary in color from a pinkish red, to an orangish or purplish red, the most valuable color for a ruby is a rich pure red.
The strength of ruby’s red depends on how much of the trace element, chromium is present—the more chromium, the stronger the red color. Chromium can also cause fluorescence, which adds to the intensity of the red color.
The most famous source in the world for ruby is Myanmar (Burma).z
So what makes one ruby more valuable than another?
It’s all about the four c’s.
- Color – The purer the color and higher the saturation the more valuable the gem.
- Cut – Beautifully proportioned gems with maximum brilliance are preferred.
- Clarity – high clarity gems are extremely rare and thus command a premium.
- Carat Weight – Ruby prices increases exponentially as sizes go above a carat.
Above: A 1.02ct, fine Burmese Ruby. Click here for details
While very few people understand what this means, treatments can affect the price tremendously.
So here is some background.
- Gemstones have been treated to enhance their beauty for thousands of years.
- Some of the most common gemstone treatments are heat treatment, irradiation and fracture filling.
Heat treatment is when the rough gems are placed in a kiln and heated to a fairly high temperature for a period of time. The net result can enhance the color and or clarity of the rough gems. This means that a dull, silky, sleepy gem may now sparkle and be far more vibrant and suitable for setting in jewelry.
- In the case of ruby and sapphire, upwards of 90-95% of all gems are treated in this manner. This means that untreated material is extremely rare and will command a premium price of somewhere between 30-40% more than their heated counterparts.
There are other treatments out there which can range from oiling and dying, to glass fracture filling. In the case of glass, fracture filling, gems of very low quality (fish tank material), are heated along with leaded glass. The many fractures are thus filled, and gives the gem the appearance of being a fine quality ruby. Buyer beware! This practice can be very difficult to detect, for those who are untrained.
Sadly, many have bought expensive rubies only to later learn that their precious gem is virtually worthless.
So, if you are in the market for such an important and fine gem, such as ruby, it is very important that you choose a trustworthy source to buy from. Look for a legitimate jewelry store that has a good reputation. Stores who are members of prestigious organizations such as AGTA, Jewelers of America, American Gem Society, Preferred Jewelers, IJO and RJO are all good bets. Happy gem hunting and I’ll see you on the next blog.