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Ruby Gemstone: History, Uses, Properties & More

Updated: Jun 21, 2023

When it comes to precious gemstones, nothing beats the classic ruby! This royal red jewel is treasured worldwide — it’s even made waves in modern culture and entertainment – just think of Dorothy’s iconic ruby slippers from Wizard of Oz. We know everyone loves them, but what is the ruby stone, and what can we learn about its properties, meanings, and uses?

It’s no secret that rubies make the perfect pendants, rings, and necklaces for sparkling red jewelry.

However, did you know that people use rubies as protective amulets and healing stones, too? What about using rubies as powerful energy crystals to help you manifest your dreams? With this glimmering gem, the sky’s the limit.

In this extensive guide, we’ll dig deep into the priceless ruby’s unique properties. With a jewel this phenomenal, we’re confident that its qualities will blow you away!

What is The Ruby Stone?

Ruby is a type of rare mineral called corundum. In fact, the only other variety of corundum is sapphire. Sapphires and rubies are ample and abundant, but they naturally have notoriety since they’re from a rare and durable mineral class.

What makes ruby even more remarkable is that it belongs to the elite cardinal gem family. Cardinal gems comprise five traditionally precious gemstones: diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, amethysts, and of course, rubies.

Thanks to their gorgeous red hues, rubies make the perfect anniversary and Valentine’s Day gifts. Popular choices include ruby stone necklaces and earrings.

Of course, rubies are just as fascinating in raw gem form. Let’s look at some essential ruby specifications.


Ruby Specifications and Characteristics

As a corundum gem, ruby is made from aluminum oxide. This powerful gem nearly tops the Mohs mineral scale of hardness at a jaw-dropping 9. That makes ruby stones tougher than both emeralds and Masonry drill bits! These jewels are both dazzling and durable, second only in hardness to diamonds.

  • Color: red, orange-red, purplish red, pinkish-red

  • Crystal structure: trigonal

  • Luster: subadamantine, vitreous

  • Transparency: transparent to translucent

  • Refractive index: 1.757-1.779

  • Cleavage: none

Aside from its stunning beauty and strength, what makes ruby gemstones such excellent choices for jewelry? The key to that question lies in its gemstone properties. Let’s check them out!

Ruby Gemstone Properties

When shopping around for gemstones, you’ve probably come across certain concepts like cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. What do these terms mean, and how can they help you find the perfect ruby jewelry?

Cut

Cutting refers to the process of shaping raw, unpolished crystals into the gems that we see on the market. When it comes to ruby stones, the most popular shapes are round and oval.

Round rubies sparkle brightly with their starry twinkle. Gem cutters often fashion them into solitaire rings, earrings, and wedding jewelry.

Oval-shaped rubies, on the other hand, are sure to turn heads with their striking red colors. Oval cuts do a great job of preserving gem material – and more material just means more value.

Other popular ruby cuts include emerald, heart, pear, and princess. For rubies that are larger than one carat, cushion shapes can nicely balance their weight.

Aside from cut, what other gemstone properties should you consider? Let’s move on to color.

Color

There are three definitions to keep in mind when it comes to gem colors: hue, saturation, and tone.

  • Hue refers to a gemstone’s color as we see it. For ruby, its primary hues are red. Secondary and tertiary hues can include pink, orange, or purple.

  • Saturation indicates color visibility, or whether a gem is light or dark. Rubies that are darker in color tend to be more valuable.

  • Finally, tone applies to color purity. If a ruby stone is pure-toned, it won’t have any secondary hues like orange or pink.

So, what color ruby is most valuable? The answer: rubies with strong red hues.

Clarity

When rubies form deep inside the Earth’s crust, they absorb mineral impurities and other dust and debris elements. The process results in the presence of inclusions – trapped crystal particles that can affect a gemstone’s structure and appearance.

Natural rubies will most often have visible inclusions. Common examples include silk, clouds, needles, feathers, and crystals.

Most gemstones with visible inclusions have less value. However, a jewel as rare and precious as ruby will remain priceless regardless of any inclusions — it’s that valuable.

Speaking of value, let’s see how carat weight enters the picture.

Carat Weight

When it comes to carat weight, it’s rare to find a precious gem that exceeds five carats. As a result, any high-quality gemstone that size – or even just above two or three carats – is incredibly valuable.

Because rubies are uniquely sourced, larger gems will command higher prices. Higher-quality ruby stones typically weigh one carat or less, while commercial-grade gems come in many sizes.


Ruby Treatments

It’s pretty standard for ruby stones to receive treatments to enhance color and clarity, transforming an already dazzling stone into an exceptional jewel.

For example, lower-quality rubies often receive heat treatments to remove purplish-blue coloring and upgrade the stone’s clarity. Heating rubies to a sweltering 2400-3300 degrees Fahrenheit results in gorgeously vivid gems.

But what about synthetic rubies?

These synthetic counterparts can appear as striking as their natural counterparts, despite being grown in a lab. The process was invented in the late 19th century by French chemist Auguste Verneuil. Since then, many have adopted Verneuil’s methods to produce fine-quality synthetic rubies.

While synthetic rubies are a modern creation, rubies as a whole have been part of human history for millennia.

Ruby History

Ruby stones derive their name from the Latin word ruber, which unsurprisingly means “red.”

Ancient societies everywhere revered ruby as a symbol of wealth, power, and protection. Even the famous Roman scholar Pliny the Elder praised its hardness and density in his acclaimed work Natural History.

Rubies were highly venerated in ancient India as well. Most interestingly, they were sorted into their own caste system. “Inferior” rubies couldn’t come into contact with those in the upper castes. “True” Oriental rubies held the highest rank, called Brahmin. The ancient Indians believed that Brahmin rubies provided total protection against any sort of danger.

Speaking of protection, rubies were worn as defenses against disaster and disease. On the battlefield, soldiers bore ruby-encrusted weapons and armor for safety and victory.

So, it’s clear that ruby has always held a place of honor and glory in human civilization. Let’s now turn to its own origins and sources.


Ruby Stone Origins and Sources

Earlier, we mentioned that rubies are formed within the Earth’s crust. Certain conditions must come into play for rubies to form naturally.

One such condition is the formation of corundum, which occurs when traces of aluminum are substituted with chromium ions; this is how rubies get their iconic red colors.

Another condition that must be met is the absence of silica and iron. When these elements are present, rubies cannot form. Since silica and iron are so abundant in the Earth’s crust, it’s a miracle that rubies even exist!

Luckily, there are many ruby deposits around the world. The most famous mines prevail in Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Myanmar (Burmese) rubies cost premium prices for their rich blood-red hues, known as “pigeon’s blood.” These vividly dark gems carry the faintest traces of purple and are deeply saturated.

Other global suppliers of ruby stones include Thailand, Australia, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Japan, and Colombia. Despite the odds, rubies are thriving everywhere!

While we’re on the topic of thriving, let’s explore ruby gemstone meanings and how this vibrant jewel can help you flourish.

Ruby Stone Meaning

The rich red ruby stone represents vitality and abundance. For those seeking a rejuvenated spirit or a prosperous life, consider meditating with ruby. The universe just may end up fulfilling your desires.

If love and romance seem to elude you at every turn, try looking toward ruby for guidance. As the ultimate symbol of passion, this rosy red jewel may help ignite sparks between you and a special someone!

But rubies offer far more than an arrow from Cupid!

Ruby stones have symbolized power and protection throughout the ages. With this gem by your side, you can find inner strength and avoid misfortune.

Best of all, rubies can help you discover positivity and happiness. You’ll be washed clean of any impure and negative energy, leaving behind uncontainable joy.

Ruby gemstone benefits don’t just stop there. Let’s delve into ruby’s spiritual and healing gifts next.


Ruby Spiritual and Healing Properties

In terms of our health and spiritual well-being, what are the benefits of ruby stones?

Rubies can target many physical ailments, from poor eyesight to liver disorders. On an emotional level, they can ward off depression and insecurity.

As spiritual healing stones, rubies closely relate to the chakras. These sacred energy centers correspond to certain areas of your body and promote holistic wellness.

Ruby stones have the power to activate your heart chakra, which is centered in your chest. Rubies can open up this chakra and help you evolve in love, compassion, and empathy.

What are the benefits of wearing ruby stones? By placing these gems directly on your body, especially around the chakras, you can maximize ruby’s healing potential. Close your eyes and picture that energy as a glowing force. Allow yourself to be enveloped in it, to be healed by it.

And now, with a renewed mind and spirit, let’s look into how we can best take care of our precious stones.

Ruby Care and Maintenance

The beauty of ruby (aside from its gorgeous appearance, of course) is that it doesn’t require much maintenance — one of the many perks of having a strong and sturdy gem!

For rubies with no visible inclusions and fractures, jewelry care and maintenance are especially easy. Just be sure to keep your gemstones clean, either with safe mechanical cleaners like steamers or by hand-washing.

If you own a jewel that has lots of inclusions, you’ll want to stick with the trusty soap and water method.

  • Grab a bowl, soft-bristled toothbrush, and mild, scent-free detergent.

  • Use the toothbrush to delicately scrub your jewelry, removing any dirt and grime.

  • Rinse your gem thoroughly and gently pat dry with a soft microfiber towel.

And you’re done! Be sure to clean as needed or about once a month. Other than that, your ruby is good to go! If you’re noticing an accumulation of buildup and grime, don’t hesitate to take your gems to a reputable jeweler for an annual or bi-annual cleaning.

Now that your jewelry is sparkling and clean, let’s go find the answer to this classic question: “Are rubies expensive?”


Ruby Stone Prices and Value

With how famous rubies are, it’s no surprise that many of us are frantically Googling prices. After all, just how much is a 1-carat ruby worth? And while we’re on the subject: are ruby stones expensive?

Ruby prices can span from $10-12,000 per carat. That’s quite the range!

Of course, these prices will vary depending on gem quality and the four Cs that we discussed above. As mentioned before, rubies from Myanmar are highly valuable.

Gem size plays a role as well. In fact, large gem-quality rubies are sometimes even more valuable than diamonds!

As you shop for ruby gems online, be sure to keep these price points and factors in mind. Whether you’re looking to splurge or save, we’re confident you’ll find a jewel that fits your style and budget!

Ready for A Red Ruby Stone of Your Own?

That leads us to the end of the road with ruby stone information, and now your ruby journey begins! From ancient history to modern times, ruby stones have been cherished worldwide for their graceful beauty and versatile qualities. And it’s easy to see why!

Born against the odds, the resilient ruby has blazed its own path as a unique gem among jewels. With their enchanting depth, durable armor, and holistic healing powers, ruby stones are sure to dazzle you daily. After all, everybody needs a little bit of ruby in their lives!



Ruby Pricing Guide (What Determines It’s Price)



What determines the price of a ruby? The answer is far from simple. Rubies have fascinated human beings for centuries, and it’s easy to see why. The ravishing beauty of intense, blood-red rubies, and their rarity make them one of the most highly prized gemstones in the world. Our ruby pricing guide will give you all the insights you need about these dazzling gemstones.

Rubies are a popular alternative to diamonds in engagement rings and jewelry. They are also very hardy gemstones that make great long-term investments. Ranking 9.0 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, rubies are only second to diamond and equal to sapphire in hardness. Ruby is considered the rarest of the “big three” gemstones, the other two being sapphire and emerald.

Before making a decision to acquire these beautiful gemstones, it’s best to educate yourself about what truly makes a ruby’s worth.

A ruby’s grading is primarily based on the following factors:

  1. Color

  2. Country of origin

  3. Treatment

  4. Clarity

  5. Cut

  6. Carat

In addition to the 4 C’s, a ruby’s value changes significantly based on its country of origin. Rubies come from many parts of the world, but rubies from particular countries will be valued much higher than those from others.

It is also common to find highly enhanced and lab-created rubies in the market. These are much cheaper than natural rubies. We will discuss these factors in more detail further in this ruby pricing guide.

Let’s understand how the above affect a ruby’s worth.




1. Color A ruby’s color is the most important factor that comes into play when assessing its value. The most desirable and highly prized rubies are those that possess an intense, deeply saturated red color. The purer and more intense the color, the higher the value of a ruby. “Pigeon blood-red” stones are considered the most valuable among all rubies for their vividly fluorescent red color. There are vivid shades of rubies that do not fall within the range of pigeon blood-red stones, but are highly valued nevertheless. Rubies with pinkish or purplish tones are valued less than the purer colored rubies. A stone’s value will be lowered further as their color becomes darker or duller. Gemologists generally analyze the color factor based on three properties: hue, tone, and saturation. The hue of a stone refers to its basic color (e.g. red, blue, green, yellow etc.). Tone is the quality of a stone’s depth of color from light to dark. Saturation refers to the intensity of gemstone’s color, and can range from light to strong, to vivid. A basic grasp of these three factors can help you select the best ruby that fits your budget and gets you the best value for money.



2. Country of Origin Rubies are found all over the world and have their own distinctive qualities according to their country of origin. The best rubies are known to come from Burma (Myanmar), but rubies are also found in countries such as Australia, United States, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Madagascar. Rubies from Burma (now known as Myanmar) are widely regarded as the world’s most valued rubies. They possess a distinctive, deep-red color that is prized by jewelers and collectors around the world. Myanmar is also renowned for its pigeon blood rubies, which occur in far greater frequency than in any other ruby producing region. African rubies from countries like Mozambique and Madagascar are only second to Burmese rubies in popularity. These rubies are known to have a characteristic dark-red color with tinges of reddish-purple. African rubies are also generally more affordable than Burmese rubies. There are rubies produced in many countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam but these aren’t regarded, or valued as highly as Burmese rubies.


3. Treatment Rubies that have not been heated or treated in any way to enhance color are considered the benchmark among these gemstones. That being said, heat-treated rubies are also used widely in jewelry and are considered acceptable in spite of their lower value when compared to unheated stones. The value difference between a heated and unheated African ruby in the scale of 1 to 2 carats is not significantly large, but we recommend selecting the unheated ruby over a heated one. For example, a 1 carat unheated African ruby can be valued upto $2,000 per carat where a heated African ruby with similar qualities would cost approximately $1,500 per carat. Nevertheless, the price difference between an unheated and heated ruby of over 2 carats could be much higher. This is particularly true for Burmese rubies, where the price difference between heated and unheated stones can be much higher. For example, a 2 carat, high-quality heated Burmese ruby can cost in the range of $7,000 per carat. An unheated ruby of the same quality on the other hand could cost up to $20,000 per carat.




4. Clarity Clarity is the term attributed to the presence (or absence) of natural inclusions in a gemstone. Inclusions are naturally occurring mineral formations within a gemstone. All natural rubies are known to have some level of inclusions in them. Rubies are generally known for being more included than sapphires, therefore the presence of inclusions in rubies should be considered a matter of fact. Inclusions may not be visible to the naked eye, but can be clearly visible under magnification. Their absence could indicate that a stone may have undergone some kind of treatment, or is of synthetic origin. “Eye-clean” rubies are the most prized of all rubies when analyzing their clarity factor. Eye-clean means the gemstone is free of inclusions when viewed by the naked eye. Eye-clean rubies are very rare to find, and most rubies will contain inclusions visible to the eye. The value that a ruby can command will be greater as the clarity of the stone increases. We at Gemdaia recommend slightly included rubies as they provide the best value for money. The scarcity of eye-clean rubies make them extremely expensive, and may not suit the practicalities of most buyers.




5. Size It goes without saying that the bigger a gemstone is, the higher its price tag. Unlike color, the size factor is not the primary variable that determines a ruby’s value, but it is important nevertheless. Every ruby’s value increases exponentially with every gradual increase in its carat weight. Rubies are commonly found in 1 carat sizes. Stones that weigh over 2 carats are considerably rarer and are prized much higher than sapphires of equal size. Rubies of over 3 carats, such as this exceptional specimen in our store are extremely rare. These are considered far rarer than diamonds of the same weight.



6. Cut The faceting of a gemstone is referred to as its cut. Cut is the final factor that is considered in the ruby grading process. The color and clarity of a ruby takes far greater importance than its cut, but a finely cut ruby can enhance its reflectiveness and color. Rubies are generally cut in several standard shapes such as round, oval, pear, cushion, and cabochon, but the oval and cushion cuts are most popular among buyers.


Conclusion

There are many factors to consider when looking to purchase a ruby. They are the most valuable among colored gemstones, and an informed decision can help you make the correct choice that balances beauty with financial sense.

Rubies are available for a range of prices that can suit your budget. For color, we always recommend that you go for vividly colored red rubies. For African rubies of 1 to 2 carats, we strongly suggest you choose unheated stones. But if you have a more accommodating budget and want a ruby with more value, we recommend that you consider 1 to 2 carat heated Burmese rubies.

We hope our ruby pricing guide helped you get a clearer picture of the factors to consider when looking for the best value for your investment.

Rubies are an excellent choice of gemstone for engagement rings and jewelry, and our online custom jewelry creation portal can help you design a unique piece of jewelry to compliment your gemstone of choice.

You can look forward to more useful information about gemstones in our upcoming blogs!

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