Buying Red Gemstones for Jewelry
When it comes to red gems for jewelry, there are actually only a handful of varieties to choose from. Finding the perfect red gemstone for your jewelry can depend on several factors. Since jewelry is, of course, designed to be worn, one should consider durability when choosing red gems for your settings. For jewelry that is prone to wear and tear, tougher gemstones are important, as they are less likely to be damaged during daily wear. However, for protected jewelry such as earrings or brooches, any gemstone is fine as long as it's worn with some care.
Another factor to consider is availability. Availability may sound like a no-brainer, but many forget to consider the nature of the gems and how large they may naturally occur. No matter how plentiful garnets may be, you may find that trying to find a large 30 millimeter heart-shaped pyrope garnet for your cocktail ring may be almost impossible, so for something this large, a gem found in larger sizes would be more logical. Also, cost is just as important as other factors when it comes to choosing the perfect red gemstone for your jewelry. It's important to know your budget before you begin your search. Most of us can't afford to spend thousands of dollars on gemstone jewelry, so gemstones like red diamond and bixbite are really not an option, which leaves us with only reasonably priced red gemstones to choose from:
Ruby is without a doubt the most classic red gemstone choice. Red ruby is suitable for any type of jewelry because of its superior hardness and durability. Ruby prices may be too much for some budgets, but the introduction of treated, fracture-filled rubies have made them affordable for anyone, even in large sizes. Red ruby looks stunning combined with emerald and diamond, and yellow gold provides an attractive contrast for the pure red color of fine red ruby.
Precious red coral is another ideal choice for those seeking something different for red gemstone jewelry. Belonging to the organic group of gems, coral has been harvested since times of antiquity for decorative use. Red coral effortlessly provides a tribal, handmade look and feel to jewelry designs. Red coral beads are perfect for strung jewelry, such as necklaces and bracelets. Red coral cabochons and coral carvings are popular for pendants, pins and brooches. Red coral is not recommended for rings owing to its lack of hardness and durability.
Carnelian is actually one of the oldest gemstones, with records of its use dating back over 4000 years. This brownish-red to orange-red variety of chalcedony has been widely used since historical times for the making of signet and seal rings, and is even mentioned as one of the twelve gemstones worn on the Breastplate of Aaron. Carnelian was and is still popular for wearing in amulets and talismans, even though it's perfectly suitable for everyday wear rings. Natural carnelian is actually quite rare though it is still very affordable; even large stones are still reasonably priced.
When thinking of garnet, most people think of red. There are at least five varieties of garnet that occur in equally interesting shades of red. These include pyrope garnet, almandine garnet, rhodolite garnet, hessonite garnet and malaya garnet. Red garnets can be found in every type of jewelry, ranging from affordable costume jewelry to extravagant fine jewelry. In fact, one fine garnet brooch owned by Jackie Kennedy Onassis fetched over $100,000 USD in auction. Indeed, red garnets are one of the top jewelry gemstones available today - they're affordable, versatile and because they're also extremely tough; both hard and durable, they're perfectly suitable for everyday wear rings.
Red zircon is sadly one of the most underrated red gemstones, despite making up one the most important gem groups. The rosy red variety of zircon is not very well known, but that doesn't mean it isn't esteemed by gem and jewelry connoisseurs. Red zircon can often be found in larger sizes than ruby or spinel, which makes it a great choice for those seeking an eye-catching red gem. Unfortunately, zircon is known to be brittle and particularly prone to wear along facet edges over time, so ring mountings should be limited to protective style enclosures such as bezel or channel settings. Red zircon looks stunning against any precious metal due to its excellent luster, brilliance and fire.
Red spinel is a rare find and is considered to be one of the finest red jewelry gemstones for many reasons. The rare red color of spinel can, and actually has been mistaken for that of fine ruby on many occasions. Spinel has excellent gemstone qualities, which makes it absolutely ideal for any type of gemstone jewelry application. It possesses excellent hardness, brilliance, luster and fire. Spinel has been a favorite for many years among the likes of celebrated jewelry designers such as Dior, Louis Vuitton, Harry Winston and Chanel. Red spinel is often combined with diamond and is equally impressive set in white or yellow metals.
Fire opal is a perfect red gemstone choice for costume and fashion jewelry because it is often available in very large sizes. Even in large, premium sizes, fire opal is commonly found with excellent transparency. Unlike other types of opal, fire opal usually lacks play of color. In fact, fire opal is actually sought after for its vivid fiery body color rather than its color play. Most opals are cut en cabochon, but fire opal is usually faceted to enhance its vivid color. Like all opal, fire opal is rather delicate, so its use should be limited to pendants and 'protected' jewelry designs.
Andesine labradorite is an interesting gemstone for those seeking something different. Andesine labradorite can be found in various colors, including shades of red, often with traces of green and yellow. It makes lovely fashion jewelry owing to its remarkable trait of iridescence. In fact, that's exactly what makes andesine so special. Andesine has a faint metallic schiller known as labradorescence. It exhibits various ranges of color depending on the viewing angle. When andesine is set into jewelry, the color phenomenon it displays is impressive with any color of mounting.
The above is certainly not a comprehensive list of all the red gemstones available today, but it is a good starting point. We hope this article can help you get some ideas for your next red gemstone jewelry project.
- First Published: October-09-2014
- Last Updated: November-07-2018
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