9 Mohs Scale
15th and 40th
The ruby is a red or pinkish-red gemstone, formed from a mineral called corundum. Did you know? Sapphires are also a variety of corundum. However, gemmologists call red corundum crystals ‘rubies’, whilst all other corundum colours are referred to as ‘sapphires’.
Corundum ranks 9 out of 10 on the Mohs Scale of mineral hardness. This means that rubies are very tough and durable, perfectly suited to jewellery that is worn daily, such as engagement rings. Only diamonds rank higher than rubies.
We choose to buy our rubies from Thailand. Not only are Thai rubies of an excellent quality, but also conflict-free and ethically mined. Rough rubies can look quite dull when they first come out of the ground. A highly experienced eye is therefore needed to pick out the best quality stones and shape them into beautiful gems. Thailand has an ages-old tradition in gem mining, vending and cutting, guaranteeing a superior grade of rubies compared to other sources.
How to assess a Ruby’s quality and value?
When selecting rubies, our gemmologists focus on sourcing stones with a deep red colour, the most coveted shade. As vivid colour is the most important aspect of a ruby. Inclusions do not impair its quality and they can, in fact, give the stone a unique ‘fingerprint’ of authenticity. We travel the world to ensure that we source the best rubies we can in conflict-free areas so that we can provide our customers with the finest quality, ethical rubies with the riches shades of red.
A superlative ruby has a strong saturation of colour that varies from bright red to purplish red. Historically, “pigeon’s blood red” has been used to describe the desirable vividness of colour in rubies. If a ruby is too dark, it loses sparkle, if it’s too light, it will be classed as a pink sapphire.
Rubies of an excellent commercial quality can be found in a variety of sizes. However, the bigger a ruby gets the more it costs per carat. For example, a 5-carat ruby will usually cost around ten times more than a 1-carat ruby. This is often because bigger crystals of a high quality are harder to come by, or perhaps because the cutter needed to lose greater quantities of the original, rough stone to create a workable shape.
Our gem expert advises buyers to expect some natural inclusions in ruby jewellery. This is indeed the opinion held by everybody in the gem industry. Perfectly clear rubies are so rare they fetch prices only attainable by collectors. Commercial ruby jewellery will therefore always have slight natural inclusions.
Rough rubies are extremely expensive. That’s why gem cutters, when cutting a ruby into shape, try to save as much of the original stone as possible. This often determines the final form of a ruby. It is also the reason why most rubies used in jewellery are oval of cushion cut. Other shapes, such as the pear, marquise or round-brilliant are available, but they tend to be reserved for bigger, more expensive stones.
While rubies can be heat-treated or fracture-filled to intensify colour or hide inclusions, our jeweller recommends only buying gems that are natural. Typically, rubies used in jewellery will almost certainly appear to have tiny lines. You shouldn’t regard them as imperfections – these small, barely visible marks are a sign that your ruby is authentic.
Ruby jewellery can be cleaned at home or be taken to a jeweller for a professional polish. At home, the easiest and safest way is to wash your rubies in a bowl filled with warm water and a drop of mild soap, using an old toothbrush to remove any insistent dirt. Remember to scrub very gently so you don’t loosen any stones. Alternatively, you can take your rubies to a local jeweller where they’ll give them an ultrasonic clean.
Rubies today symbolise love and enchantment. In The Wizard of Oz, we all remember how Dorothy’s magical ruby slippers transported her back home to Kansas.
Elizabeth Taylor, Victoria Beckham and Jessica Simpson are some of the famous women who’ve loved to show off rubies. Like red roses and hearts, rubies are considered a quintessentially romantic Valentine’s Day gift.
When The Dukes of Hazzard actress Jessica Simpson got engaged to Eric Johnson in summer 2014, the beautiful and unique ruby ring he gave her made big headlines. It was of course symbolic of their engagement, but he also wanted it to commemorate her July birthday. The ring features a stunning 5-carat ruby shouldered by two diamonds, set in a yellow gold band. Celebrity magazines have estimated its cost at around £350,000.
Rubies are possibly the most significant of all coloured gems in history. They are mentioned numerous times in ancient Sanskrit scriptures as the “king of gemstones” and the Bible associates them with beauty and wisdom.
The Hindus believed they could achieve rebirth as royalty if they sacrificed rubies to Krishna. In China the rank of a Mandarin was shown by the colour-tone of the ruby on his ring.