Where the world comes to find out all about Rubies
All About Rubies
Here we have a guide, or a bit of a tutorial all about rubies.
When you want to buy rubies, it is not necessary to know all about rubies to find the best ruby price. However, when buying and selling rubies the more you know the better off you will be.
At one time, rubies were worth more than 7 times that of diamonds and rubies have always been considered highly valuable by kings and queens throughout the ages. Rubies come in various shades of red, red purple and red orange. A medium toned red or red with slight purple is most desired. Clarity of the stone and inclusions are also taken into account to determined the stones value. A purple or orange stone is called a fancy sapphire.
Some Ruby Facts
Did you know that the word ruby comes from the Latin word, 'ruber', which means red? And in Sanskrit the ruby is called the 'king of precious stones'.
The ruby is a red gemstone. One of a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminum oxide). The other well known corundum is the sapphire. The ref color is mainly as a result of chromium within the ruby.
The name, ruby, comes from ruber, which is Latin for red. Natural rubies are exceptionally rare, but synthetic rubies (sometimes called created ruby) are manufactured very cheaply. One has to be careful as these can be sold as 'genuine' rubies. The other variety of gem-quality corundum of course is the sapphire. Together with the sapphire, the ruby is considered one of the four precious gems together with the emerald and the diamond.
Most rubies are mined in Africa, Asia, Australia, and Greenland. The best and most sort after rubies are found in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Madagascar, and Thailand, but some have also been found in the U.S. states of Montana as well as North and South Carolina. The Mogok Valley in Myanmar has produced some of the finest rubies but in recent years very few good rubies have been found there. In central Myanmar the area of Mong Hsu also produces rubies. The latest ruby deposit to be found in Myanmar is situated in Nam Ya.
Ruby Technical Information
Rubies have a hardness of 9.0 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness just below that of diamonds.
For the technically minded here are some technical specifications of the mineral ruby.
Composition: Aluminiumchromium oxide
Color/Spectrum: Red gamma
Atomic (Crystal )Structure: Hexagonal
Density (Relative): 2.65 - 2.68
Chemical formula: aluminium oxide with chromium, Al2O3::Cr
Color: Red, may be brownish or purplish
Crystal habit: Varies with locality. Terminated tabular hexagonal prisms
Crystal Shape: Prizmatic
Crystal system: Hexagonal
Cleavage: No true cleavage
Mohs Scale hardness: 9.0
Molecular formula: Al2O3
Refractive index: ~1.762-1.770
Pleochroism: Orangy Red, Purplish Red
Specific gravity: 4.0
Uses: Jewelry, ornamental
The major variety is pink sapphire Caused by a color impurity that makes the stone appear pink.
It is a good idea to check and feel the ruby yourself when considering buying a stone. You can learn a lot just by the feel of a ruby.
The first thing to look at is the color. All rubies come in a wide variety of red tones with the darkest considered the best and most valuable. However your budget and taste will decide what quality and shade of ruby you buy. Such things as the color and texture of your skin, the type of body frame you have and the clothes you wear, all will have a bearing on what color and style of ruby looks best on you.
Like many gems rubies have inclusions or bubbles within the stone. The less inclusions the more you will have to pay for the stone. It is a good idea to spend at the top of your budget to get the best stone possible. You should get an appraisalfrom an independent gem laboratory of the ruby to show what inclusions there are. Do not just take a jewelers word for it.
The cut of the ruby should be clean and give out an inner glow. Try to see the ruby in natural light not artificial as the color will be different. This means taking it out of the shop to see it in daylight. Shops have a lot of unnatural light to make all gemstones sparkle. The red should be lustrous and sparkling.
Check the setting or mounting of the stone. The mounting should be a claw setting with 3 or 4 prongs holding the stone in. Ensure it is a tight fit and the stone is not lose or the prongs broken or bent. Look for possible cracks where the prongs are too tight and have cracked the stone. This is very possible with a careless fitter.
Value of Rubies
Natural rubies are rare and most of the rubies you find in jewelry shops are synthetic. A natural ruby is often worth more than a diamond. It is important, therefore, when being offered a 'natural' ruby to be able to tell the difference. A natural ruby has a much higher value of course.
All rubies are valued according to their size, color, clarity and cut. Also all natural rubies will have imperfections in them, including color impurities and inclusions of rutile needles known as 'silk'. If there is no silk in the stone, it will show that the stone has been heated at 3000 degrees C to give the ruby a better color of red. Usually the rough stone is heated prior to being cut.
Synthetic rubies can only be identified using at least a 10x magnification microscope or a jewelers loupe or a light source such as a lamp or a penlight. One can then see curved growth lines and the ruby may also show included gas bubbles. Also curved growth lines, translucent to opaque crystals or liquids and wispy like veils (cloud like structure within a ruby) or wavy fingerprint-like inclusions may be seen.
Other than fluorescence, magnification is really the only way to differentiate between a synthetic and a natural ruby. sometimes pieces of red corundum have been found weighing many kilograms but these are generally of too low quality to be valuable as gemstones.
As part of finding the value of a ruby, auction prices are a good indicator of a stone's true value. Prices do not necessarily correlate with size however. For example, in 2006, the record price paid at auction for a single stone was $5,860,000 for an unnamed 38.12 carat cabochon-cut ruby. It is quite possible that rubies with an even greater value have been bought and sold privately.
Buy Loose Rubies
Loose rubies are perhaps the best way of buying rubies. You can check for flaws and cracks easier and get a more accurate picture of the quality of the stone.
When you are looking for loose rubies probably the most important factor to look at is color. Many people prefer the deeper rich almost blood red color. Other like the paler pink like quality of some rubies. As I said it can depend on skin color and other factors. So one looks at the hue and the tone. The hue refers to the actual color of the stone. Tone refers to how deep the color goes. Also is the color even? Some stones can show a banding and this would lessen the value.
Turn the stone around and look at it from all angles, even upside down. This will tell you if the stone has banding under but not shown on the top if it has been cut to hide the banding. A banded stone is not worth as much as a full colored stone.
Other factors to consider are the clarity and cut of the stone. Especially when it comes to setting. Is the cut suitable for a ring setting? Or a pendant for example.
Selecting loose rubies for a necklace or ring where more than one ruby is require is a little more difficult. You would most likely want all the same color and matching sizes. The color should complement your skin tone and even your nail varnish. All these points should be considered with choosing the color of loose rubies. Choosing colors generally requires a little more thought that colorless stones such as diamonds which tend to go with everything.
It pays to study up on rubies before attending an auction as, usually, you are competing against people that have considerable knowledge of rubies.
It is fairly easy to locate auctions using google.com and typing in ruby auctions. Probably eBay and www.bidz,com would be the most popular. Also keep a look out for local auctions in your town or city. Scouring the newspapers, you can sometimes find an auction where rubies are up for sale. Jewelery and gem auctions are invariably the best.
Some important points to remember when buying rubies at auctions
If you intend buying from an auction you are attending, you will probably need to register with the auctioneers first. See if you can inspect the rubies that will be auctioned. There should be a certificate of appraisal to accompany the ruby or rubies or at least some information about them. Quite often these are antique rubies and if so will be a good buy if the price is right. You only need to establish that they are true rubies and not some other lesser quality stone or not even a gem at all.
You should have some understanding of the value and worth of rubies and also decide in advance what your bid is going to be. This will depend on your budget and how much you want the rubies of course. By doing this you will impose some discipline and not pay more for the rubies than you should.
When bidding it is better not to bid at all until the very last minute when all the bidding appears to be done. Provided the price is still within your budget you can then jump in with a bid and not start a bidding war (which only benefits the seller and the auction house not the buyer).
Online auctions are different. You cannot see the rubies but only a picture of them. It is difficult to asses the quality of an ruby in this case and you would be more interest in seeing a certificate of authenticity which you could compare the ruby with if you did bid and win the bid.
Ensure the auction house has provision for misrepresentation of product and a protection system for the buyer. You don't want to bid and win an expensive ruby to find when it arrives that you have just got at best a poor quality ruby and at worse a worthless piece of glass.
Buying rubies at ruby auctions can be fun but there is no substitute for doing your due diligence.
Just a few pointers about ruby jewelery. Always ensure, firstly, that you buy your rubies from a trustworthy dealer or jeweler. Preferably one who specializes in precious gemstones and rubies in particular if possible.
Many gemstones are heat treated, including rubies. This brings out the colors more and sometimes even changes the color of a stone. This may or may not be suitable for you. But at least you want to know if this has been done so find out if the stone has been heat treated in anyway. Also if it has been irradiated, coated or dyed. Sometimes these treatments will devalue the stone but other times may even increase the value.
Check the color of the stone. Generally speaking the deeper the color or hue the more valuable the stone will be. The gemstone should be near perfect with no visible flaws visible to the naked eye. The surface should reflect light and the stone have perfect clarity. There should be no visible flaws or scratches on the surface of the stone.
Make sure you can examine the stone from all sides and angles. Turn it over in your hand. Also try and get the opportunity to examine the stone in natural light. Many gemstones will change tone or even color in artificial light.
Pure genuine rubies are not cheap. If you are offered cheap 'genuine' ruby jewelry, it is more than likely not genuine but a fake.
If possible get a certificate stating the type, quality and details of the stone from the dealer. Make sure it is very specific. If at anytime you discover the stone is not as described you want to be able to return it and get a refund so ensure the dealer has a returns policy that allows for this.
If the stone has been set in a ring or other metal ensure that you can see the back of the stone. This is important as if the back is blocked off then there will be limited light able to shine through and the stone will not look as good. A stone should have a prong or claw setting and not be glued in place. Glue can deteriorate over time and the stone be lost. Keep in mind also that the prongs or claws are sometimes used to hide flaws as well.
Probably antique ruby jewelry is the best. Usually the stone are sure to be real and not synthetic and there can be an 'antique' value as well.
Cleaning Your Ruby Jewelry
It is very important to understand how to clean your rubies. Rubies may be almost as hard as diamonds but they can still be damaged and care still needs to be take to ensure it is cleaned properly and that no damage is done.
It is a good idea not to wear rubies when doing rough or strenuous work. It can be easy to scratch a ruby or dislodge it from it's mounting. Take a ring or what ever the jewelery piece is off and store Safely away from other jewelery when not in use. Gems such as diamonds and rubies are quite hard gems and can scratch precious metals or even other gems if stored or lumped together.
Be very careful using chemicals to clean any gemstones. While diamonds are, for the most part, unaffected by chemicals, rubies may be, so knowing what one can and cannot use is vital to ensure you keep your rubies in pristine condition and keep them sparkling. The best way to clean your ruby is to use a warm soapy solution in a large bowl (not over the sink as you don't want to slip and lose your precious gemstone down the plug hole) and rub with a old toothbrush to get out any residue between the stone and the jewelery. Brushing underneath as well as the top and in between the crevasses is important (rather like brushing teeth). Ensure you brush gently as, although the gemstone may be quite hard, the precious metal it is set in may be soft and the claws that hold the gemstone may be easily snapped off. 24 karat gold is particularly soft so extra care should be taken with that metal. Make sure the piece is rinsed really well so that the is no soap caught between the ruby and the metal. Pat dry with a soft cloth. And allow to dry completely before storing or wearing again. A hair dryer can also be used with the setting on low so you don't blow the jewelery piece away off and onto the floor and have to spend hours frantically searching for it.
If your jewelery is pure gold an ammonia solution could be used. It is not advisable with other metals, such as silver or a lower carat gold of 14 or 10 karat, as they also contain other metals which can react with the ammonia and cause it to go black. Some people let their gems soak in the solution for a half hour or so. To loosen any grime wedged in.
Using the above tips for cleaning your ruby jewelery will help to keep them sparkling clean.
Treatment of Rubies
The treatments of rubies to improve their look and feel has been fairly common practice for a long time. The level and type of treatment however has differed and impacts upon the price of the gemstone accordingly.
Some treatments occur in almost all cases and are (therefore) considered 'acceptable' practices. A good example is heat treatment. Although heat treatment affects the price of a top quality ruby, most if not all rubies at the lower end of the market are heat treated. Heat treatment is performed on the rough stones to improve color, remove purple tingle, blue patches and silk. These heat treatments typically occur around temperatures of 1800 degrees C (3272 degrees F). Some rubies undergo a process of low tube heat, when the stone is heated over charcoal of a temperature of about 1300 degrees C (2372 degrees F) for 20 to 30 minutes. The silk is only partially broken as the color is improved.
A less acceptable treatment, but one which has gained notoriety in recent years, is 'Lead Glass Filling' of Rubies. By filling the fractures inside the ruby with so-called 'lead glass' the transparency of the stone is dramatically improved making previously unsuited rubies now fit for applications in jewelry. The process is typically split into 4 steps:
1. Rough stones are pre-polished to eradicate all surface impurities that may affect the process
2. Rough is cleaned with Hydrogen Fluoride
3. First heating process whereby no fillers are added. The heating process eradicates impurities inside the fractures. Although this can be done at temperatures up to 1400 degrees C (2552 degrees F) it most likely occurs at a temperature of around 900 degrees C (1636 degrees F) since the Rutile silk is still intact
4. Second heating process in an electrical oven with different chemical additives.
Different solutions and mixes have shown to be successful, however lead-containing glass-powder is mostly used at present. The Ruby is dipped into oil, then covered with powder, embedded on a tile and placed in the over where it is heated at around 900 degrees C (1636 degrees F) for one hour in an oxidizing atmosphere. The Orange colored powder transforms upon heating into a transparent to yellow-colored paste, which fills all fractures. After cooling the color of the paste is fully transparent, that dramatically improves the overall transparency of the Ruby. In case a color needs to be added, the glass powder can be 'enhanced' with copper or other metal Oxides as well as elements such as sodium, calcium, kalium etc. The second heating process can be repeated three to four times consecutively, even applying different mixtures.
Loose Myanmar Rubies
These are the best rubies you can buy. They are the highest quality and also the highest in price.
Burma is the world's largest provider of the highest quality Rubies. In Myanmar, Rubies from the Mogok Valley are considered to be the world's finest of these rubies and are highly sought after. other providers of fine quality rubies are Vietnam, Kenya, Tanzania, India and Sri Lanka. Thailand rubies tend to have a darker color and less intensity than the Myanmar. African Rubies have more heavy inclusions and India is famous for the Indian Star Ruby.
The two main sources of Myanmar rubies today are Mogok and Mong Hsu. Mogok is the traditional source and their goods are considered the very best of the Myanmar gemstones. For hundreds of years, The Mogok Stone Tract has been producing gem quality ruby, sapphire, and spinel. Recently, in 1992-1993, another location was discovered in Mong Hsu, Myanmar. However, unlike Mogok, these stones look rather like a bad garnet until they are heated, at which point they turn into bright, lively red rubies.
Of course, very few dealers actually travel to the source. Most dealers buy stones directly from Mogok dealers but most of the gems end up in Bangkok after being smuggled across Thailand at Mae Sot or Mae Sai. These stones are usually recut and often heat treated in Bangkok. However, despite a call for a boycott from the US, NGOs and some human rights groups, Gem Dealers still buy Myanmar Rubies at auction in Myanmar. Many counties including the USA have imposed bans on rubies from Myanmar but somehow they still seem to filter through. Perhaps a Kimberly style process is needed to control these 'Blood Rubies.'
The ruby is a red gemstone that can vary from a light pink to a deep blood red. The red color or luster is caused by chromium contained within the ruby.
All natural rubies have imperfections in them, including color impurities and inclusions of rutile needles known as 'silk'. Gemologists use the needle inclusions found in natural rubies to distinguish them from synthetics, stimulants, or substitutes. Usually the rough stone is heated before cutting. Almost all rubies today are treated in some form (of which heat treatment is the most common practice), and rubies which are completely untreated and still of excellent quality command a large premium. In general we can list the following types of improvements: color alteration, improving transparency by dissolving Rutile inclusions, healing of fractures (cracks) or even completely filling them. See Treatments below.
Prices of rubies are primarily determined by color (the brightest and best 'red' called Pigeon Blood Red, command a huge premium over other Rubies of similar quality). After Color follows clarity: similar to Diamonds, a clear stone will command a premium, but a Ruby without any needle like Rutile inclusions will indicate the stone has been treated one way or another. Cut and Carat also determine the price more or less to a similar extent as does the luster or clarity.
Some Interesting Ruby Facts
Despite some pieces of red corundum weighing many kilograms, they are generally not of sufficient quality to be valuable as gemstones. The best way therefore to find out the present day value of any gemstone is to check out auction prices as a good indicator of a stone's true value. Prices do not necessarily correlate with size of course. the larger the stone, the more rare and the more per carat it is going to cost.
In 2006, the record price paid at auction for a single stone was $5,860,000 for an unnamed 38.12 carat cabochon-cut ruby. However, it is quite probable that other stones with potentially greater value exist but have never have been sold at auction.
A synthetic ruby crystal was used to create the first laser According to Rebbenu Bachya, and the New International Version, the word odem means 'ruby' in the verse Exodus 28:17* (referring to a stone on the Hoshen), and was the stone representing the tribe of Reuben.
Modern Hebrew has taken this meaning. However, odem actually means earth, and is cognate with Adam, in the middle east, the earth it refers to is certainly reddish, but the Septuagint translates the term as Sard (which also means red), which is also the name of an incredibly common somewhat opaque gem.
Scholars think the stone intended is probably a Sard, as does the King James Version, some scholars think that if not a Sard it may possibly be the related gem carnelian. It is also thought possible that Sard and Odem here just means the colour of the stone, and red Jasper could therefore also be a possibility. There is a wide range of views among traditional sources about which tribe the stone refers to.
Ruby is the most commonly named precious stone in English translations of the Bible; an example being Proverbs 31: 'A virtuous wife is worth more than rubies.' The underlying masoretic text doesn't necessarily refer to rubies, however. Not only are there issues such as that mentioned with odem, but in the case of Proverbs 31, the masoretic text merely states jewels, and the Septuagint makes Proverbs 31 refer to precious stones (estin lithon ); some English versions of the bible believe that pearls is a better translation here.
The famous lighted 'Red Stars' mounted above Kremlin spires, thought to be giant rubies mined in Siberia, are actually colored glass.
Ruby is the birthstone associated with July and of the zodiac sign Leo. It is associated with the Sun in vedic astrology and also symbolizes passionate love.
Although their names bear some similarity, rubies are not related to rubidium, and they don't contain this chemical element. Both names derive from the same Latin word, ruber, meaning red, in reference to the red color of the ruby, and the red resonance line of rubidium vapor, respectively.
There are many more interesting ruby facts. These are but some of them
Synthetic and Imitation Rubies
Synthetic or artificial rubies are not genuine rubies but are an actual creation, by artificial means, of a real gemstone so that the product is identical, chemically, physically and optically, with the one found in nature.
The terms synthetic, laboratory-created, and man-made are all pretty well synonymous. Diamonds, ruby, sapphires, opals, and emeralds that have been manufactured in labs and which possess very nearly identical chemical and physical characteristics to the genuine article are called synthetic corundums. Synthetic corundums, including ruby and sapphire, are very common and they cost only a fraction of the natural stones. Smaller synthetic diamonds have been manufactured in large quantities as industrial abrasives for many years. Only recently, larger synthetic diamonds of gemstone quality, especially of the colored variety, have been manufactured.
Synthetic rubies have been made since the late 19th century. They have become more common since the work of Auguste Verneuil and the introduction of the flame fusion process. Other processes in which synthetic rubies can be produced are through the Pulling process, flux process, and the hydrothermal process. Most synthetic rubies originate from flame fusion, due to the low costs involved. Synthetic rubies may have no imperfections visible to the naked eye but magnification may reveal curves striae and gas bubbles. The fewer the number and the less obvious the imperfections, the more valuable the ruby is; unless there are no imperfections (i.e., a 'perfect' ruby), in which case it will be suspected of being artificial. Dopants are added to some manufactured rubies so they can be identified as synthetic, but most need gemmological testing to determine their origin.
Imitation rubies have also been present in the gemstone market for some time. Red spinel, red garnet and even glass have been falsely named as rubies. Trade terms such as balas ruby for red spinel and rubellite for red tourmaline can mislead unsuspecting buyers. Such terms are discouraged from being used by most of the gemmological associations such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
Any purchase of a ruby should be accompanied by a proper certificate that validates the stone as being a natural ruby, otherwise it is safe to assume it is a synthetic of imitation ruby.
Ruby charts are extremely useful when it comes to grading and rubies.
Ruby Gemstone Grades
||Included, light pinkish red, good cut, good polish
||Slightly included medium pinkish red, good cut, good polish
||Eye clean, medium dark pinkish red, good cut, good polish
||Eye clean, medium dark pinkish red, brilliance, good cut, good polish
||Eye clean, medium dark pinkish red to red, brilliance, excellent cut and polish
The birthstones for the month of July are principally ruby but also onyx, carnelian, sapphire and diamond.
Modern - Ruby
Traditional - Ruby
Mystical - Ruby
Ayurvedic - Ruby
Hebrew - Onyx
Roman - Onyx
Arabic - Carnelian
Hindu - Sapphire
Polish - Ruby
Russian - Ruby, Sardonyx
Italian - Onyx
Zodiac (Leo) - Onyx
Talismanic (Leo) - Diamond
Rubies is probably one of the better stones to sell. There is always a demand and you can get a reasonable price for a ruby which you may not for other gemstones including a diamond. The best place to sell a ruby is of course privately or through an auction. If you sell to a dealer you will not get a good price as the dealer will also want to on sell the stone and make his money and often they do not sell retail but to another dealer who may then sell retail
If you have an antique ruby then you could get an even better price for it due to its antiqueness and the fact that the quality of the ruby could also be very good and will be, more than likely genuine.
If you think you have a top quality ruby, such as a deep red, then it is a prudent idea to get the ruby valued by an independent gemological laboratory and the quality details issued on a certificate. This certificate can then be presented with the ruby and command the top price for that particular quality ruby.
Selling by auction is one of the best ways to sell a ruby. Do ensure that you set a reserve price of course. One of the aspects of selling by auction that people overlook is the fact that your buyer or the person who wants the ruby most may not even be looking at the auction at the time your ruby is being offered. You might even need to list it several times, especially if it is an expensive one. The more expensive the ruby the longer it may take to sell as the less people would be in the market for it. eBay and Bidz.com are the two most popular auction houses that come to mind but if your ruby is a large 'rock' then you might even consider Sotheby's or Christies auction houses. One would then auction with other gems at a 'gem' auction and would more likely find a buyer. In this case a proper evaluation is very important. No buyer is going to buy a large ruby without it.
Keeping the above in mind will go a long way to ensuring that you get a satisfactory price for your ruby. Auctions are often the best places to sell rubies. Especially the larger and more expensive ones.
So there you have it. A comprehensive guide to rubies. Hopefully this will enable you to have a greater understanding of rubies and how to buy and sell them.
*Bible: King James Version