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4 Things You Need to Know About Ruby

by Louise W. Rice
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The July birthstone is a very beautiful and unique gemstone. The vibrant wine red color makes ruby highly appealing and loved by many who like to be fashionable with their jewelry. Rubies are believed to be a symbol of love and passion and have become widely popular for their use in making engagement rings.

So what do you need to know about rubies?

1. Ruby Colour

One of the most striking features of the ruby is its deep red color. The word ruby itself was derived from the Latin variant ‘ruber’ which means red. However, It is not unlikely to find rubies with colors varying from deep pink to orange and deep purple.

Rubies are quite opaque when compared to other precious stones. Although transparent rubies do exist, they are very rare and more expensive.

The ruby gemstone is believed to boost self-confidence, vitality, and positive energy in those who wear it or are born in July. The ruby is also used to celebrate the 40th anniversary, and ruby rings are commonly exchanged by spouses when marking such celebration as a symbol of renewing love, passion, and loyalty for each other.

Rubies with the deepest tone of red are considered to be the best. Nowadays, manufacturers like Biron Gems create lab-grown rubies. They achieve the same deep red color as natural rubies. Such rubies possess physical and chemical characteristics as natural gemstones and are just as durable.

2. Ruby Cut

Rubies require cutting, proper polishing, and a detailed display of facets to achieve better brilliance. The most popular cuts given to rubies are:

  • Step Cut – The step cut is commonly used for showcasing the rich color and clarity of gemstones. The facets are cut to make the ruby appear like a set of steps.
  • Brilliant Cut – The brilliant-cut gives as many facets as possible to a ruby gemstone. It induces maximum sparkle in gems.
  • Mixed Cut – This combines the brilliant-cut and the step cut. Mixed cut rubies have a step cut at the base and a brilliant-cut at the crown or peak.
  • Cabochon Cut – Cabochon cut rubies are polished gems without facets. The surface of the ruby appears rounded and smooth. The cabochon cut best allows the color of ruby to be appreciated.

3. Ruby Clarity

The clarity of a ruby gemstone refers to the transparency and how it emits, absorbs, or reflects light. Although most rubies are only semi-translucent, the clarity of a ruby is greatly affected by the presence or absence of inclusions. Inclusions are impurities that are present in the ruby during its formation.

The presence of inclusions in ruby gemstones impacts several aspects of the stone (read “An Introduction to Gemstone Inclusions”), such as its transparency, color tone, and overall aesthetics, and there are different types of inclusions.

Silk

These are inclusions that appear like fiber strands. Too many of them may whiten a ruby and therefore discolor it.

Crystals

Crystal inclusions have a great impact on a ruby’s transparency as they are readily obvious, occurring in either white or black.

Feathers or Crack

These are not particularly inclusions but an indication of a fracture. They appear like feathers in the ruby. Gemstones with feather inclusions are prone to more breakages.

Needles

Needles are long, slender, crystal-like inclusions. They affect visibility in gemstones and appear like fractures, although they are not.

Fingerprint

Hollow inclusions filled with liquid or gas that form fingerprint patterns. They are common but unlikely to affect the gem-quality since they are very small.

Cavity

Cavities are small holes that extend from the ruby surface into the gem. They can affect the structural integrity, and if large enough, can make the ruby unattractive.

Scratches, Abrasions

These are visible surface inclusions that appear as rough scrapings but can usually be polished off.

Colour Zoning

This occurs when there is an uneven distribution of color, resulting in visibly different shades across the gem. Lab-grown rubies provide options for owning rubies with no inclusions and are just as quality as natural ones.

4. Ruby Grading

Ruby Grading indicates the quality of ruby gemstones and determines their prices in the jewelry market. According to GIA, rubies are graded based on the richness of their color, the clarity, presence or absence of inclusions, transparency, carat size, and cut.

Based on this, rubies are graded as Natural AAA, AA, and A.

  1. Natural AAA – These comprise the highest quality rubies ever mined. They are very rare, most expensive, and contain very little inclusions.
  2. Natural AA – Natural AA rubies are next to the AAA. They are also highly-priced but are more commonly found in the jewelry market than AAA rubies. They come in a lighter tone of red and have more inclusions.
  3. Natural A – Natural A rubies appear reddish-pink. They are very common among small scale retail jewelers as they sell for the least price.

Rubies are classified alongside diamond, sapphire, and emerald as precious stones. This is because of their beauty, rarity and durability. Among colored gemstones, rubies are second to none. It is essential to understand the basic qualities of rubies to know what to look for when shopping for them.

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