Emma Scaramozzino - April 27, 2021
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT: RUBIES
The third installment of our Everything You Need To Know Series. This week we'll be covering rubies; where they come from, how to buy one, and more.
For thousands of years, South East and South Asia have been the primary source of rubies. Most deposits are found in Myanmar, Thailand, India, Pakistan, and Nepal. In these countries, Rubies were formed when the continents of Asia and the Indian subcontinent collided with each other. The pressure from the collision and combination of certain minerals created a large deposit of rubies along the stretch of land that borders the Himalayan mountain range.
*Fun Fact: Stones in the corundum family can only grow in silicone-free environments. Silicone is the second most abundant element on Earth (oxygen being first), making rubies and sapphires two of the rarest gemstones.*
Color is the most important factor when determining a ruby's value. Colors can range from a deep blackish-red to an orangish or pinkish-red, though, pure red (also known as Pigeon Blood or Burmese red) is the most desirable shade.
When looking for rubies for everyday jewelry, typically below one carat, the color scale ranges from AAA - B. Stones are labeled with these letters based on rarity. For example, an AAA stone (fine quality) accounts for 2% of all-natural gemstones, AA accounts for 10%, A for 20%, and B, 50% (a more commercial-grade stone).
When looking for a ruby that is fine quality (typically over one carat), you would ask your jeweler to find you a "Gem". According to Saul Nhaissi, @saulnice the gemologist on Instagram, "Gem is a term used to describe the best quality in gemstones, for any size above one carat. Essentially, the term gem emphasizes that the client needs to see the very best options within the carat range they're looking in".
The clarity of rubies is determined differently depending on their size. Like in color grading, stones under one carat are grouped together in types 1, 2, and 3; 1 being the least included and 3 being the most. Eye and loupe-clean rubies exist as well, however, they are excluded from the Type 1 category because of their rarity.
Stones over one carat are looked at more closely and therefore are not grouped into types. Color, Clarity, Cut, Luster, etc. are all taken into account when determining the quality and value of larger stones.
There are nine types of inclusions that can be found in rubies. Needles, crystals, cavities, twinning, and feathers are similar inclusions to the ones you can see in diamonds. However, silk, fingerprints, scratches, and color zoning are all types of inclusions specific to rubies that you will often see.
Silk inclusions look like silk fibers. They are often found in clusters inside of the ruby. These inclusions typically have little impact on a ruby's color and clarity, though, they can affect light performance.
Fingerprints are inclusions that are clustered together and quite literally can look like human fingerprints. These inclusions are typically small and rarely impact the quality of a ruby.
Scratches are surface-level inclusions that can typically be polished away. However, if the scratch is deep, more polishing will need to be done causing the carat weight of the stone to significantly decrease.
Color zoning is an inclusion found in many colored stones and is usually a result of the above inclusions or the cut of a stone. Color zoning, of course, interferes with color and can cause it to look uneven across the surface of the stone, thus lowering its value.
Source: @saulnice on Instagram
Luster is the way light interacts with the surface of a stone. Also known as crystal or the "life" in a stone, this seemingly slight difference between stones can raise the price of a gem significantly. For example, between the two stones above, the right is more "lively" than the stone on the left. This interaction between the stone and light is noted in the transparency portion of the certificate. When a stone is transparent, it has good luster. When it is translucent or opaque, it lacks luster.
There are a few treatments often used on rubies to enhance their color and clarity.
The most common way to enhance them is by applying heat. This method helps to remove inclusions and improve the stone's color, tone, and saturation. This treatment is permanent and mimics the natural processes that rubies undergo while forming.
Another way to improve a ruby's appearance is by using a method called flux healing. Rubies are coated in a material prior to heating that creates a barrier and prevents stones from sticking together during the heating process. This flux material often melts and enters any cracks a ruby may have. This can improve the clarity of the ruby since cracks are being filled, however, introducing this foreign substance lowers the stone's value.
Beryllium diffusion is another technique that enhances the color of the ruby. Similarly to flux healing, beryllium is added to the ruby as it is being heated.
Glass filling rubies is a newer method to enhancing the stones, though, it is the least desirable. The ruby is bleached and treated with the addition of a liquified glass. The glass penetrates the ruby and improves the clarity of the ruby. However, rubies enhanced by this technique are not stable with temperature changes or when the ruby is subjected to ultrasonic cleaners.
Source: Diamond Advisor
The density of a stone is what determines its carat weight. Because density varies between stones, carat weight differs even if two stones have the same dimensions. For example, if a ruby is 9x7mm it weighs in at around 2.96 carats. However, a 9x7mm emerald weighs in at about 2 carats.
When purchasing a large ruby, especially as the center stone of an engagement ring, you may receive a certificate along with it. Certifications typically come from notable labs such as GIA, Lotus, AIGS, CDC, and IGI.
Source: Shahla Karimi
LAB GROWN RUBIES
Just like diamonds, lab-grown rubies are 100% atomically the same as natural rubies. They are also 25 - 50% the price of natural, depending on the carat size.
BIRTHSTONE MEANINGS + HEALING PROPERTIES
Rubies have been known as the "king of gemstones" for thousands of years. Believed to hold great power, the July birthstone was desired by many ancient civilizations.
Burmese warriors believed it made them invincible in battle while Medieval Europeans thought that rubies could bring wisdom, wealth, and success in love as well as improve health. Other beliefs were that it could predict misfortune or danger, and some claimed it could even cure inflammatory diseases and soothe anger.
Queen Elizabeth's Burmese Ruby Tiara
The Liberty Bell Ruby
The Sunrise Ruby
Queen Elizabeth's Burmese Ruby Tiara showcases diamonds and Burmese rubies. The crown was made by the House of Garrard with the rubies gifted to her by the people of Myanmar for her marriage to Prince Philip in 1947.
The Liberty Bell Ruby is a sculpture crafted from the world's largest mined ruby, discovered in East Africa in the 1950s. It weighs four pounds, is eight and a half thousand carats, and is sculpted into a miniature form of the Liberty Bell. It has fifty diamonds set in it to represent all 50 states in the US and is valued at two million dollars.
The Sunrise Ruby weighs in at 25.29 carats and was last sold at auction for $28.25 million. The stone is known for its extraordinarily fine color and purity as well as a well-balanced cut that is rare in rubies of this size.