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By Reviewed By Thomas Dahlberg

Ruby Gemstone Information

Ruby Gemstones at GemSelect
Natural Ruby Gemstones


Amongst colored gemstones who is the ruler of them all? We have three outstanding contenders, in the green corner, the elegant Emerald, in the blue corner, sophisticated Sapphire, and in the red corner, the mighty Ruby.

Let's take a look at Rubies, the gemstone ancient Indians called 'Ratnaraj', Sanskrit for king of precious stones. We have all heard the beginning of the rhyme, 'rubies are red. . . ' and red has been a favorite and revered color for mankind since our history began. From early cave drawings to the robes of Greek and Roman nobility, Indian and Chinese brides to red carpets and sports cars, most of the world's flags, businessmen's ties, winning football teams, London's phone booths, buses and postboxes, we just love the color red.

Rubies are the perfect embodiment of red, when we hear the word ruby, we think red and when we think of red we think passion, seduction, power, romance, violence, danger, adventure, fire, blood, excitement and lust.

Ruby Colors

Ruby Gemstones Colors
Ruby Gemstones Color Range

Okay so we know rubies are red but which red is best?

We need to break down the color of rubies into three parts, the hue, the tone and the saturation. The hue specifies how red the gemstone is, are there any hints of yellow, blue or brown for example. The redder, the better.

The tone is simply how light or dark the stone is. We want a stone that is solid but not too dark to block the red color but not too light as to appear pink. Dealers, buyers and scientists can argue for hours over when a ruby stops being a ruby and becomes a pink sapphire when the tone gets too light. I guess it depends which side of the deal you are on!

Then we have saturation, does the gem have a vivid or strong or intense coloring, we do not want weak colors. The perfect colored ruby has been described as pigeon blood red, usually sourced in Myanmar (Burma), this rather gruesome simile does capture the most sought after color for rubies.

Pigeon Blood Red Rubies
Pigeon Blood Rubies

Some rubies also possess fluorescence, a phenomenon that causes them to glow in ultra violet light and some special examples even seem to glow in sunlight.

Many ruby color charts exist and can be of some assistance but the AA ratings, red, pinkish reds, pigeon blood can be a bit vague and should only be used as a guideline.

Ruby Species

Scientifically, Rubies are a type of corundum, which is a crystalline form of aluminium oxide.

Sapphires are made of exactly the same material the only difference between the two is that rubies are colored red by the presence of minute impurities made of chromium and sapphires are turned blue (and some other hues) by the presence of titanium or iron.

So rubies are the red form of corundum and only really differ from each other in the range of reds and subtle secondary color tones. However in the world of gemstones we like to group, organize and classify things so we have broken down rubies into a few types.

Burmese or Myanmar Rubies are held in the highest esteem with the most vibrant reds and the fewest blemishes or inclusions.

Thai Rubies have a reputation second only to Burmese or Myanmar rubies. Rubies from Thailand are exceptional quality with distinctly darker hues, tinted with brown and burgundy.

Burma - Thailand

Madagascan Rubies are quite new on the scene and have stones with orange and pink tints to them.


Tanzanian Rubies are famous for very clean if slightly smaller gemstones which are more affordable than their more illustrious competitors.


Mozambique Rubies produce many rubies and are noted for their star rubies discovered in the north of the country.


Ruby Meaning

Rubies are an ancient stone, revered since history began, and as such are very powerful spiritually. It fills its owner with power, with self-esteem and confidence, it has been the gemstone of dominant rulers and nobles. It brings vitality and verve to the wearer, allowing him or her to live life to its fullest and take every positive opportunity that comes their way.

Of course it is the color and the stone of love, of passion, romance and, yes, sexuality and lust. It increases desire and energy, allows one to enjoy the sensual pleasure of life, and attracts romantic partners. It sharpens the mind and aids concentration, perfect in preparation for important meetings or negotiations. It is so powerful it can protect the wearer from paranormal and malevolent forces, from psychic attack and bad dreams.

In legend it could ward off plague and pestilence, warn of impending doom and boil water if placed in the pot. Warriors would wear rubies as amulets to become invincible although Burmese fighters took this to extremes by inserting rubies under the skin before battles!

Chakra meditation

Being the archetypal red gemstone means rubies are linked with the Root or Base Chakra, linked to physical health, stability, prosperity and stolidity. To boost your Root Chakra keep a ruby about the body and keep mantras such as 'I feel secure', 'I am safe', 'I am secure' and 'I love life' in your thoughts. Also with the red connection to blood the ruby also affects the heart chakra.

Ruby is the birthstone for July and is linked to the astrological sign Cancer, the crab. It can bring Cancers out of their shell and conquer their self doubts and extreme modesty.

Health Benefits of Ruby

Being a red stone, rubies, as well as spinel, tourmaline, jasper, are linked to the flow of blood through the body and all that is associated with this from blood pressure to the strength of the heart. Being a stone of the root chakra it has influence over the stomach area, lower back and digestive system. Sexual problems, PMS, menopausal issues and impotence can all be alleviated with this powerful crystal.

We are often asked how to use gemstones for spiritual or health benefits and while we are certainly not experts in this field we have gained some experience and knowledge. Of course wearing the gemstone as a piece of jewelry is the easiest way for the crystal to influence your body. Certain stones and colors have connection to different parts of the body, for example the ruby is connected to the base chakra and heart chakra so a pendant could be ideal. Alternatively they can be placed in your purse or pocket and used as a touchstone throughout the day. Hold crystals or place them in your lap while meditating. Easiest of all, just lay down with crystals on your body, lined up with the chakra points if possible. Put them in the bath (check the particular stone is impervious to water). Decorate your home with crystals, certain crystals boost work so keep them on your desk other help you relax so keep them in the lounge or living room.

Ruby Clarity

Completely flawless rubies are virtually impossible to find in anything other than the smallest stones so some inclusions are expected. The value of the ruby depends on whether these inclusions are very visible to the naked eye or if they inhibit the gem's transparency or brilliance.

Large inclusions or cracks that reach the surface of the gemstone will affect the durability of the stone and diminish its value considerably. Occasionally, a bit like those in emeralds, inclusions can enhance the gems' appeal. Intersecting needles of rutile silk can create the star effect which is much admired and other such needles, which can be filled with liquid or gas, can scatter light across the gem causing a pleasant effect on its color.

Other inclusions to look for include crystals, cracks, twinning, parting and halos. Much like the color charts, there are guides to ruby clarity which grade them with marks such as AA or 8 points or VVS.

Transparency is similar to the clarity in rubies. A ruby can have a large inclusion so its clarity is compromised but the rest of the stone is transparent or clear so you can see straight through the gemstone. Others may be semi-transparent or translucent meaning object viewed through the ruby are hazy or blurry.

Bottom line, the better the clarity the more expensive the ruby.

Ruby Price

Ruby Price List


Weight range

Price range / USD

Ruby Fracture filled

1ct +

$15 - $80/ct

Ruby Heat only

1ct +

$250 - $10,000/ct

Ruby Untreated

1ct +

$2,000 - $20,000/ct

When pricing colored gemstones we need to consider what is known as the 4 Cs, color, clarity, cut and carat and usually it is the color that is the most important.

Rubies are the red form of corundum, and it is the quality of that red that most influences the price. The ruby must be a pure vivid red, with an even color tone throughout the body of the stone, neither too dark nor to light with no obvious other color undertones.

Rubies often have blemishes but this is not always the highest priority (that is always color) but obvious cracks are a problem and a cloudy appearance will devalue the stone.

Rubies are a very expensive gemstone so cutters are very reluctant to waste any material when cutting. This will influence the way the gem is cut. Rubies come in all shapes but round cuts and oval cuts are very popular because they bring out the red color and the sparkle.

Whenever cutting rubies the lapidary (someone who cuts gems) has to consider the hue, tone and saturation of the rough stone and how to maximize the good bits of the rough and minimize the poor parts – any flat color, dark patches or blemishes.

In addition, rubies are a pleochroic stone meaning they can display two colors depending on the angle at which they are viewed. The stone could look deep red from one angle and a bit orange from another, the cutter gets most value from the red being the top or dominant color.
See our detailed article on pleochroism here

Finally we have the carat size or weight of the ruby. Rubies over 1 carat are extremely rare indeed and as they increase in size, they increase in value significantly. A 2 carat ruby will be a lot more expensive than simply twice the price of a 1 carat ruby gemstone and a 5 carat ruby will be likely to be 25 times the price of a 1 carat gem all things being equal with color and quality.

Treatments of rubies will affect the price dramatically. An untreated, vividly colored large ruby is almost priceless and any untreated ruby gemstone with a good color will demand a very high price.

A ruby that has simply been heat treated to bring out the best of its color and clarity will also be extremely valuable while a fracture filled ruby will be considerably less expensive.

How much is a 1 carat Ruby?

One of the most used terms when buying and selling gemstones is the word 'carat'. Before mechanical scales and units of mass were around old traders used the seeds of a carob tree as unit of weight. Merchants would collect piles of similar sized carob seeds to act as a counterweight on a balance scale. A carob seed is approximately 200 milligrams (0.2 grams) and that is the exact weight of one carat. Of course all carob seeds are not exactly 200 milligrams so you can imagine an old trader in times long past with one set of carob seeds when he was buying and another when he was selling!

So how much would 1 carat (0.2 grams) of ruby cost? Price is determined by many factors but let us assume we have a top quality Burmese ruby in out hand, what is it worth? Sorry to say that it is almost impossible to give an accurate general price, it could be anything from $2,000 to $20,000 for a single gem and as we have written earlier price per carat goes up with bigger gemstones. A recent sale of a 25 carat ruby for over $30 million meant that it was $1.2 million per carat!

Colored gemstones have a wide variety of relative densities, for example a 1 carat ruby is considerably smaller than a 1 carat diamond while a 1 carat emerald would be quite a bit larger. Because of this, we suggest buying gemstones such as ruby by physical size, the width in millimeters, rather that carat size, so you know exactly what you are getting.

See our detailed article on how size, weight and density connect here

Are Rubies more expensive than Diamonds?

Rubies versus Diamonds
Rubies versus Diamonds

Rubies are very rare, considerably rarer than diamonds, and yet diamonds can often reach similar premium prices of up to $10,000 per carat. This is because the supply of diamonds is very carefully controlled – only a small number of supreme quality stones are released each year – and the demand for these diamonds is well cultivated by an excellent marketing campaign.

Despite being much rarer, rubies and diamonds are quite similar in price per carat with perhaps just the much larger sized rubies being able to out price its rival – however colored diamonds are a different matter altogether!

Ruby Discovery

The word Ruby comes to us from the Latin 'ruber' and 'rubeus' meaning red and has been revered by man since written history began. Rubies are mentioned in the Bible as a stone of Aaron's breastplate and in ancient Vedic texts from India as a powerful medicine. Until modern scientists could look deeply into rubies and determine their chemical and mineral make up all precious red gemstones were considered rubies, including spinels, garnets and tourmalines.

How are Rubies formed?

Ruby is made from densely packed mineral made of aluminum and oxygen atoms called corundum that has been under immense pressure and intense heat beneath the earth's surface for millions of years. The heat and pressure turn this mineral into liquid which seeps into cracks in igneous or metamorphic rocks.

As the liquid cools it turns into crystals which are usually colorless. However minute traces (often as little as 1%) of other minerals can alter the corundum from colorless into stunning reds, pinks, yellows and blues. If the trace mineral is chromium then the corundum turns red and gives us rubies, if the trace element is iron and titanium we get the blue colored sapphires.

The gems in Greenland have a color that is quite close to those found in Myanmar and are mined in an ethical and responsible way. These gemstones are chiseled from the hard rock not collected from sediments and could make a very interesting future source of this valuable gem.

Are Rubies Treated?

In a sense all gemstones are treated in one way or another, when rough rocks are mined from the earth they need to be cut and polished for their beauty to be appreciated. However there are further treatments which may or may not enhance their appearance such as color boosting, heating, painting, dying, resins and waxes, oiling or any application of chemicals. Opinions may differ on the efficacy and ethics of such treatments but no doubt all information must be passed onto any potential buyers.

Rubies are generally heat treated in one way or another to make them presentable for sale to the gemstone market. Untreated rubies that are acceptable enough to be sold are so rare that it is estimated that they make up only 1% of the worldwide ruby market.

Imagine if all rubies were not treated then 99% of all rubies would disappear, you would probably never see one in your lifetime!

So what treatment do rubies receive? The most common and effective is the age old heat treatment. Customarily, the rubies were placed in a crucible (a granite, metal or ceramic container) and heated to very high temperatures, this would dissolve inclusions to improve the clarity. The red color would usually be improved dramatically, too. This same process is now done in temperature controlled ovens although the old-fashioned methods can still be seen in operation in hillside villages around South and South-East Asia.

This traditional heat treatment is pretty much accepted around the world of gems and not thought of as underhand in any way especially as there is nothing added to the ruby other than heat and it is the natural attributes of the gemstone that creates it final clarity and color.

Then we have more controversial treatments. For example, flux-enhanced heat-treatment, where additional materials are included during the heating process, such as borax or silica. These extra materials can fill cavities in the ruby and heal fractures making the stone clearer. This treatment will enhance a ruby but will reduce its value since it is considered a filler.

Glass-filled or fracture-filled rubies are lesser quality rubies with many cracks are bleached and then heated at low temperatures with lead glass. The glass fills the gaps and produces a clear ruby. This type of ruby does fill a niche requirement in the need for a regular supply of gemstones at very affordable prices.

Fracture-filled Rubies
Fracture-filled Rubies

These are the basic treatments carried out on ruby gemstones and we at GemSelect always reveal what type of treatment, if any, the stones may have had.

What jewelry is Ruby suitable for?

Ruby Jewelry Designs by GemSelect
Ruby Jewelry Designs - GemSelect

Ruby has a rating of 9 on Mohs hardness scale making it second to diamonds along with its sister gem, sapphire. This hardness means that rubies can be used for any type of jewelry and can be worn everyday without any worries about chipping, scratching or cracking. With their striking beauty and great value they make a perfect rival to the diamond which is just above it on Mohs scale with a rating of 10.
See our detailed article on the gem-hardness (Mohs scale) here

Rubies can be cut to just about any shape you desire and worn on any part of the body so their only limitations are your budget and your imagination. The most common shapes are ovals and cushions but cutters will shape the gemstones to maximize and individual stone's sparkle and color so any shape is possible. One thing to think about is the type of alloy that would best match your ruby gemstone. For a modern, chic appearance, white gold makes a great choice but if you looking for a classic, vintage look, pick rose or yellow gold.

Rubies at very large carat sizes are incredibly rare, so a large cut centerpiece is unlikely to come your way. Rubies tend to be a bit smaller, so clean, uncluttered, minimalist settings may be the way to go, allowing the ruby itself to be the star.

Did you know? Interesting facts about Ruby

Ruby is the traditional gemstone gift for 15th and 40th wedding anniversary
You could not show your love more clearly than with a ruby on this special day. Perhaps an offering of eternal love for the 15th anniversary and a thanks for putting up with me for all these years!It is also the birthstone for July, the red-hot summer month, so a ruby would make an ideal gift for a loved-one born in this month.
The chemical chromium is what gives the ruby its red color and its inner glow or fluorescence but it also makes the gem brittle making them so rarely found in large sizes.
What's in a name?
We know the word Ruby comes from the Latin ruber meaning red but did you know the word corundum (the crystal type which includes rubies and sapphire) come from the Tamil word kuruntam which means ruby! Around and around we go.
The ruby is one of the original 4 precious gems along with diamonds, emeralds and sapphires, however it is rubies that reach the highest price.
Lost forever?
The Liberty Bell is the largest ruby ever mined. It weighs four pounds (just under 2 kilos), is 8500 carats and was cut in the shape of the Liberty Bell. It was stolen in2011 and has yet to be recovered.
Also in 2011, Elizabeth Taylor's 8 carat ruby ring, designed by Van Cleef & Arpels sold for $4.2 million, that is about $500,000 per carat.
Fit for a Queen
England's crown jewels are the envy of the world and has been put together over centuries from gifts and acquisitions from all parts of the globe. It has many precious gems, including: 2,868 diamonds, 273 pearls, 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds, but only five rubies – that's how rare they are.
The Queen's favorite.
Queen Elizabeth of England's favorite amongst all her precious crown jewels is the Black Prince ruby, given to Prince Edward by King Pedro of Castile in 1367. The gorgeous smooth stone is a brilliant red the size of an avocado stone but unfortunately it is not a ruby but a red spinel!
The biggest ruby in the world is in China and it weighs over 8 kilos, that is more than 40,000 carats.
It's not rocket science
Because of their great value, several attempts have been made to create rubies in laboratories, French chemist Gaudin had some early success but after 30 years of trying he admitted defeat in the effort to produce decent quality gemstones. Other scientists tried, failed, partially succeeded and went before Auguste Verneuil managed to grow 12 – 15 carat ruby crystals in only 2 hours.
The first laser ever created was made using red fluorescence light emitted by ruby crystals.
Rubies in the Himalayas
Fifty million years ago the Indian sub-continent collided with Asia. This formed the Himalayan mountain range and the immense pressure and mixture of minerals from the two land masses also led to the creation of rubies. If you pinpoint the top ruby mining sites of Asia you can almost follow the line of the Himalayas from Pakistan down to the final foothills in Myanmar.

How to care for Rubies

Due to ruby's hardness, they do not require any special care however it is important to protect softer stones from being scratched. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep your rubies separate from all other gems of different hardness in a fabric-lined compartment of a jewelry box. Individual cloth jewelry bags are also suitable if you have limited space in your box.

Ruby is durable enough to survive the odd bump or knock on a hard surface; however, you should always take care to avoid such abuse. That is why it is always recommended to remove jewelry before physical activities, especially household cleaning or gardening.

Ruby can be safely, simply, and effectively cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft brush or cloth, such as a toothbrush. Ultrasonic cleaners may be used to clean ruby although if you suspect your ruby has been dyed or had some previous fractures filled do not use.

With a gemstone as valuable as a ruby it may be worth taking your gem or gems to a professional jewelry store for a thorough clean and check-up.

Careful: ultrasonic cleaners can not only cause and exacerbate fractures in gemstones, they can loosen jewelry and cause gems to fall out of their settings. Steam cleaners should not be used to clean ruby because it should not be subjected to high temperatures.

How do you know if you have a real Ruby?

Is this gem real?

Obviously a certified gemstone from a reputable dealer is the best approach but this is not always possible when you are out searching for a great gemstone or a bargain! With something as expensive as a ruby we strongly recommend getting a certification report before you buy unless the stone is from a well respected dealer with a good return policy.

As with all precious gemstone, there is the temptation for unscrupulous dealers to try to pass off synthetic stones or fake stones as the real thing. Rubies are no different.

We have to look at three things initially when checking on the veracity of the ruby you are looking at. First what is it? Is it a natural ruby, a synthetic ruby or an imitation ruby? So long as the dealer is honest this information will be readily disclosed.

If the ruby is labeled as natural we can check a couple of things. First inclusions, a ruby has grown in the depths of the earth's crust heated, crushed, moved so it will have some flaws. Perhaps these flaws will only be visible under magnification but if it is a flawless gemstone you could be looking at a synthetic gem or even a piece of glass.

Scratch it. A ruby is very hard, only a diamond is harder amongst well know gems, so cannot be scratched by a knife, a key, or your fingernail. If it does get scratched this easily it is not a ruby. Check with the owner before waving knives or keys around!

Some imitation rubies are just as simple as dyed glass or dyed crystal. Rub the prospective ruby on a hard but smooth surface and see if it leaves a streak of red color behind. This will indicate a fake.

Price as a guide. Rubies are rare precious gemstones so the price should reflect this. If you see a prime example at a price too good to be true, it probably isn't true, so avoid buying such 'bargains'.

This is not a complete guide on how to spot a fake gemstone but I hope it helps.

At GemSelect, we currently offer brief identification reports from your choice of two well-respected independent gemological laboratories, The Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS) and Burapha Gemological Laboratory (BGL Lab).

What is so special about a Ruby?

The ruby is one of the original 4 precious gemstones along with diamonds, emerald and sapphires, all others were just semi-precious. Even though we do not use such erroneous terms very much anymore it is still an indication of the esteem with which rubies are held. If you own a ruby you have in your hand one of the world's rarest natural objects, formed by millions of years of heat and pressure then faceted by man into a dazzling fiery work of art.

Can ruby change color?

Some gemstones show a distinct or dramatic change in color under different light sources. Look at a garnet under electric or artificial light and it could look red, take it outside into the sunlight and all of a sudden it is green! This remarkable effect only occurs in a few gemstones, Alexandrite, Garnet and some Sapphires being the most well known but does NOT occur in rubies.

Traders in gems often have little tricks about how best to show off their gemstones and light is a classic example. Some look better in bright sunshine, others look better under electric light. Rubies are supposed to look good in the sunlight, more precisely early morning or late afternoon sunlight but for every dealer who suggest sunlight another will say they better indoors. Obviously lighting conditions can change the appearance of a ruby but not as dramatically as in color-change gems.

How can you tell a good quality Ruby?

Buy from a respected gemstone dealer. That is the best way to know you are getting a good quality gemstone. Make sure they have a great return policy so you can get the gem checked professionally for yourself and it is what you expected and you can return it if you want to.

We have looked at the 4Cs for checking the quality of a ruby, seen the best known sources of good gemstones, discovered the treatments that rubies receive and learned a little about checking for genuine gemstones. If we assume (and it is quite a big assumption) that what the seller discloses about the ruby is all true (not all gem traders are as scrupulous as GemSelect) then how do we decide what makes a good ruby? Do you like the look of it? Does the color match your skin tone? Is it suitable for the piece of jewelry you would like made? Is it the right size and shape for your requirements? When you can answer these questions you will know if the ruby is right for you.

Ruby - Gemological Properties

Chemical Formula:

Al2O3, Aluminum oxide

Crystal Structure:

Trigonal, hexagonal prisms or tables, rhombohedrons


Various reds


9 on the Mohs scale

Refractive Index:

1.762 - 1.778


3.97 - 4.05




Transparent to opaque

Double Refraction or Birefringence:



Vitreous to silky


Strong: carmine red

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