QUICK LINKS: 1. How to Determine the Quality of a Ruby | 2. Which Ruby Gemstone is Best? | 3. Why is July Birthstone a Ruby? | 4. Fun Facts from History about Ruby | 5. What does a Ruby Symbolise? | 6. How to Create a Custom Jewellery Piece with Ruby |7. What is Synthetic Ruby & Should you Consider Buying it? | 8. Lab-Grown vs Natural Rubies: Cost Difference |
Did you know this about Ruby?
The ruby, with its vibrant red colour, represents passion, love, and power. But did you know Ruby is technically corundum? Corundum, a word not commonly uttered, is the scientific name for two of our most prized precious gemstones – Ruby and Sapphire.
In fact, the word “corundum” is derived from the Tamil-Dravidian word “kurundam”, meaning ruby-sapphire. They are the same mineral structure, with different trace metal elements during their formation determining the colour.
How to determine the quality of a ruby gemstone
Chromium is the element in corundum that creates the rich red colour of a ruby. Rubies are highly valued for their vibrant red hue but can be found in pinkish-red opaque stones of lesser quality right through to a crystal clear vivid red for the top quality rubies. Colour is almost synonymous with quality when it comes to rubies. Look out for a rich red colour and eye clean transparent gems when viewing rubies.
Which ruby gemstone is best?
The most prized rubies are pure deep red with a tiny hint of blue, known as “pigeon’s blood” rubies. The Mogok Valley in Myanmar (formerly Burma) is known for producing some of the finest rubies in the world. Burmese rubies are often regarded as the industry benchmark for quality.
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Why is July birthstone a ruby?
The mystical practice of birthstones can be traced back to ancient times, and it has evolved over the centuries. The ruby has been linked with July in many traditional birthstone lists, including the modern birthstone list established by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912, which is widely recognised today.
Fun Facts from History about Ruby:
- Industry usage: Crushed corundum was processed and filtered to produce uniformly sized granules during the 1800s & 1900s. These refined powders were used for grinding machinery, sandpapers, polishing compounds, and grinding wheels.
- Nail & Beauty: Crushed corundum was even used for 19th-century emery boards to help ladies keep their nails looking manicured and proper!
- Rubies in watches: During this time, Swiss watchmakers discovered they could drill a tiny hole in a little piece of ruby and use it as smooth-running and long-wearing bearings in watch mechanisms. It was much stronger than the metals used to make the moving parts in a watch and didn’t fail like other bearings. These are named the ‘jewel’ bearings or ‘jewel’ movement and are now famous worldwide. Colourless corundum is also used in watch faces, known as sapphire glass or crystal faces, as the hardness makes for excellent durability and scratch resistance.
What does a ruby gemstone symbolise?
Rubies symbolise strength, courage, and vitality, making them the perfect birthstone for July.
In Vedic astrology, rubies are associated with the Sun, a powerful celestial body. According to these astrological beliefs, those whose horoscopes indicate a strong or weak Sun should wear rubies to strengthen or balance out the influence of this planet.
How to create a custom jewellery piece with Ruby
Creating a custom ruby piece can be an exciting and personal way to incorporate this beautiful gemstone into your jewellery collection. Rubies are incredibly durable, positioned at number 9 on the Mohs scale. They should not scratch easily, except by other gems like diamonds, which have a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. This makes the ruby perfect for everyday wear.
Here are some steps to guide you in the custom process:
- Think about the Design: Start by envisioning the jewellery you want to create. Think about the style, whether you prefer rings, earrings, bracelets or pendants and the overall design features. Do you love vintage and romantic styles, or are you looking for a more contemporary and modern appearance?
- Connect with a manufacturing jeweller: Reach out to a jewellery designer or gemmologist to select a high-quality ruby that aligns with your preferences regarding colour, clarity, size, and shape. They can help guide you through the selection process and provide options that fit you best. Decide on the metal type for your piece, such as gold (yellow, white, rose) or platinum. Consider factors like durability, personal preference, and how it complements the ruby’s rich red colour.
- Get your jewellery handcrafted: The jeweller will begin crafting the custom piece once you have finalised your dream design. This involves carefully setting the ruby into the chosen metal and incorporating any additional elements you desire. Custom jewellery creation takes time and expertise, so be prepared for the process to take a few weeks, depending on how complex the design is.
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What is synthetic ruby? Should you consider buying it?
Synthetic corundum is abundant and often called ‘created’ ruby and sapphire. It has the same ingredients as its natural counterpart but is created by man and not by nature. This results in the same optical and physical properties and heat resistance.
Synthetic ruby is very cheap to produce, leading the scientific uses for modern-day miracles like lasers used in surgery, in computer disk drives and cd players, and even to remove tattoos. Transparent synthetic corundum is also used in ordinary day-to-day items, as previously mentioned for watches, but also things like the clear scanner surface at the self-serve checkout and the windows we peer out in aeroplanes.
Surprisingly, synthetic ruby was discovered over 100 years ago. French scientist Auguste Verneuil was credited as the first to create commercial-quality rubies in 1902 successfully. This discovery garnered great excitement, making purchasing ruby jewellery more affordable than its natural counterpart. Created rubies were available for around 70% of the price at this time, but soon the lab-grown ruby market was flooded. In the resulting decades, we have seen a sharp price decline.
Lab Grown vs Natural Rubies: Cost Difference
Today lab-grown rubies are worth around 1% of the natural ruby value. For example, a high-quality 1-carat natural ruby will typically cost around $5000, whereas a 1-carat synthetic ruby will set you back around $20. Synthetic ruby is not a good investment for those who like to purchase jewellery that increases in value.
Considering synthetic ruby is so cheap to manufacture, you will commonly find it in mass production retail jewellery pieces. It is difficult to know if a ruby is artificial or natural by the naked eye, but a qualified gemmologist can test your stone to determine its authenticity.