Ruby Buying Guide

Welcome to our Ruby Buying Guide!

Natural Star Ruby
Natural Star Ruby

Ruby is considered the most valuable variety of corundum, which is a mineral group that also includes the gemstone Sapphire. The term "corundum" is derived from the Hindu word "Kurand" or "Kuruvinda," while the word "Ruby" originates from "Rubrum," which is the Latin word for red. Therefore, any corundum that is red in color is called Ruby, while corundum of any other color is referred to as Sapphire. The exquisite red color of ruby is a result of trace amounts of Chromium, which is also responsible for the green color of emerald.

Ruby is the birthstone for the month of July and has been highly coveted as a gemstone for centuries. According to legend, the fortunate owner of a fine ruby would enjoy a life filled with peace and harmony among all people. Their land and social status would remain secure, and their house and garden would be protected from damage caused by storms or tempests.

Rubies have been associated with various healing properties and were believed to have remedial effects on hemorrhage and inflammatory diseases. It was thought that wearing a ruby could grant protection from wounds and make the wearer invulnerable. Interestingly, certain Burmese individuals took their belief a step further and actually inserted rubies into their flesh, considering them to become an integral part of their bodies.

What to look for while buying a ruby?

The price of a ruby is determined by several factors, including its color, origin, transparency, cut, absence of color zoning, presence of silk, and more. Each of these important factors will be discussed in detail to enhance understanding.


The perfect hue for a ruby is a vibrant, intense red reminiscent of a bright traffic signal. However, rubies can exhibit a range of colors, from fiery vermilion to violet red, due to their pleochroic nature. This means that different colors can be observed within the same stone. Even rubies with hints of pink, brown, or purple are considered authentic, albeit priced accordingly. Distinguishing between a pale pink ruby and a pink sapphire, both being varieties of the corundum gem, can be a delicate task. Gem laboratories often have varying opinions on whether to classify pink corundum as a ruby or a pink sapphire.

The term "Pigeon's Blood color" has historically been associated with the finest ruby hue. However, this description holds little significance in contemporary times, as few have actually witnessed the blood of the Burmese bird that inspired the term.

Unlike diamonds, rubies benefit from the presence of silk, which consists of mineral rutile strands within the gemstone. This silk aids in scattering light within the stone, enhancing its visual appeal. Iron content in rubies tends to darken their color, resulting in blackish-red tones. Thai rubies, which lack silk, can also exhibit less desirable coloration.

The price of a ruby is influenced by the uniformity of its color. The presence of strong zoning, where different color concentrations are visible, can diminish its value. Certain areas of the gemstone may appear darker due to higher concentrations of chromium.

Star Rubies present a unique case, as the presence of silk that forms the star effect can reduce the overall color intensity. This is because the length of light paths within the stone is shortened due to scattering off the silk. An ideal star ruby should contain just enough silk to form the star without significantly lightening the color. Rubies with a strong color but a weak star are more valuable compared to those with a weak color but a distinct and sharp star effect.


Transparency or diaphaneity holds greater significance in rubies compared to their color. A ruby with the finest red color but lacking transparency will be less valuable than a similarly sized transparent ruby with a purplish hue. While translucent rubies are considered superior to opaque ones, they are still categorized as commercial-grade gemstones. It is important to note that finding a flawless ruby is highly unlikely, unlike diamonds which can be free of any inclusions. If a ruby appears flawless under a hand lens or loupe, it is likely to be synthetic. Additionally, when comparing diamonds (colorless) and rubies of equal transparency, the value of the ruby will far exceed that of the diamond.

Ruby Treatments

The lives of customers would have been significantly simpler if it weren't for the extensive array of treatments being applied to rubies. In the past, heating a ruby to high temperatures was sufficient to eliminate any purplish undertones and enhance its red color. However, with scientific advancements, countless experiments involving various chemicals and fluxes have led to the emergence of multiple types of heat treatments.

Gemstone dealers and jewelers often mention that rubies undergo routine heating to improve their color and transparency. However, it is crucial to inquire about the SPECIFIC TYPE OF TREATMENT performed on the ruby, as it significantly impacts the price you pay. To assist you, we have developed a chart detailing the different treatments and their corresponding value per carat. The treatments at the top of the list command the highest prices, while those at the bottom are considered less valuable.

  1. Natural, Unheated Ruby: Considered the finest type of ruby, it is completely natural and untreated. These rubies have no enhancements or modifications, making them highly prized for their purity and authenticity.

  2. Heated Ruby (Thermally Enhanced Ruby): Also known as thermally enhanced rubies, these gemstones undergo a heating process without the addition of any chemicals. Simple and plain heating can improve the color and clarity of the rubies, enhancing their natural beauty.

  3. Flux Treated Ruby: In this treatment, rubies are heated with the use of borax and other flux materials, excluding beryllium, lead, and bismuth. The flux helps improve the clarity of the stone by filling in surface-reaching fractures and cavities. This treatment is generally accepted in the gem trade.

  4. Beryllium Treated Ruby: Although primarily used on sapphires, this treatment has also been applied to produce red-colored material sold as ruby or red sapphire. The treatment involves the diffusion of beryllium into the gemstone to alter its color. It's important to note that rubies treated with beryllium are technically considered red sapphires due to the treatment process.

  5. Glass Filled Ruby: This treatment involves heating the ruby with chemicals such as lead and bismuth, significantly increasing its transparency. However, this treatment is considered the least valued as it affects the gem's overall quality and value. Glass-filled rubies are generally considered less desirable compared to natural and untreated rubies.

It is important to note that the price of rubies decreases significantly as you move from Natural Unheated Ruby to Glass Filled Ruby. If we compare two gemstones of the same quality, one being a natural ruby and the other a glass-filled ruby, the natural ruby can have a value of thousands of dollars per carat weight, while the glass-filled ruby may only be valued at a few dollars per carat.

The distinction in value is due to the rarity, authenticity, and overall quality of natural, unheated rubies. They are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts, commanding premium prices in the market. On the other hand, glass-filled rubies, despite their enhanced transparency, are considered significantly less valuable due to the treatment process involved and the impact on the gem's overall quality.

When considering the purchase of rubies, it is important to take into account factors such as treatment, authenticity, and personal preferences to make informed decisions and understand the corresponding variations in price.

Mining Location

Many people have often heard or been told by jewelers and gem dealers that a ruby of Burmese origin is more expensive than rubies from any other origin. However, the truth is that this statement is not always accurate. While it is undeniable that Burma has historically been a consistent source of some of the world's finest rubies, the landscape has changed dramatically in recent years with increased geological exploration, particularly in previously inaccessible areas in Africa.

Vietnamese rubies flooded the market in the 1990s and surpassed Burmese rubies in terms of quality. More recently, a new mine called Winza in Tanzania has been discovered, yielding exceptionally clean rubies. Further exploration in the same region, particularly in the Niassa province of Mozambique, has uncovered gem-quality rubies that surpass Burmese rubies in terms of both clarity and color. Exceptional rubies have also been found in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Greenland.

In our opinion, when purchasing a ruby, the origin should be the least important factor to consider. The quality of the ruby should take precedence over its origin. Additionally, the origin should not significantly affect the price of similar quality stones, with variations in price typically not exceeding ten percent.

It's important to recognize that while Burmese rubies have held a prestigious reputation historically, the global ruby market has seen the emergence of high-quality rubies from various sources, challenging the notion that Burmese origin always commands a higher price.

Cutting of the Ruby

Since ruby is the second hardest natural stone after diamond, it has the potential to achieve a good polish. However, it is susceptible to abrasion at the edges. When purchasing a ruby, it is important to inspect the edges where facets meet for any signs of abrasion. An abraded stone is considered less valuable. A well-cut ruby has the ability to showcase the fire and brilliance that rubies are renowned for.

It is also crucial to examine the stone for any chips in the culet or the girdle, which are occasionally left to conserve weight. Burmese rubies, in particular, are often cut in a manner that prioritizes weight retention. However, this can sometimes compromise the quality of the cut. When buying a ruby, it is important to ensure that the gemstone has a good cut with proper proportions and symmetry. While minor defects may be acceptable, the cutting of the gemstone should not be compromised to the extent that it compromises its overall appearance and creates an unpleasant aesthetic.

Synthetics and Simulants

While synthetic rubies were initially developed for industrial purposes, particularly in the laser industry, they are now increasingly being used in jewelry. Synthetic rubies are laboratory-grown gemstones that possess the same chemical and physical properties as natural rubies. On the other hand, simulants are gemstones that only resemble natural rubies in appearance but lack the same chemical and physical properties. With advancements in scientific technology, various types of synthetic rubies have flooded the market, and unfortunately, some are being misrepresented as natural rubies.

It is important for consumers to be cautious when purchasing rubies and always inquire specifically about the natural origin of the stone, as well as the type of treatments it may have undergone. Since it can be challenging for inexperienced customers to detect treatments, it is advisable to request a gem lab certificate to accompany the ruby. If the dealer is unable to provide a recognized gem lab certificate, it is wise to inform them that you intend to have the stone certified independently, even if you do not actually plan to do so. This can help ensure transparency and protect against potential misrepresentation of synthetic or treated rubies as natural gemstones.

There are several types of synthetic rubies and ruby simulants available:

  1. Geneva Ruby: Introduced in 1885, these synthetics contained fragments of natural ruby fused together so seamlessly that they could deceive an untrained eye.

  2. Verneuil Ruby: In 1891, French scientist Verneuil developed a method for producing clean, high-quality synthetic rubies. This process involved growing them on a rotating podium with melted aluminum oxide. Verneuil rubies are still produced today, but they are limited in size.

  3. Flux-Grown Ruby: These rubies have been produced by various companies such as Kashan, Ramaura, and Chatham. They are marketed under their respective brand names, and the specific composition of the flux used in their production is often a trade secret. It's important not to confuse flux-grown rubies with flux-treated rubies.

  4. Hydrothermal Ruby: These rubies closely resemble natural rubies in appearance because they are formed in a similar manner. However, producing hydrothermal rubies on a large scale has not been economically viable so far.

  5. Czochralski-Pulled Ruby: This type of synthetic ruby is created by pulling the ruby crystal out from a molten material. It allows for the production of larger-sized rubies compared to the Verneuil method.

In addition to synthetic rubies, there are numerous ruby simulants available. Some common examples include Almandine/Pyrope Garnet, Rubellite Tourmaline, Spinel, Glass, and doublets composed of a garnet top and a red glass bottom. Synthetic Spinel has also been used in many cases to imitate ruby.

Lighting Conditions

In addition to the factors mentioned above, the appearance of a ruby is greatly influenced by the lighting conditions in which it is viewed. Daylight is considered the best lighting condition as it provides a more balanced spectrum. Cool white light, such as tube lights, can give the ruby a purplish hue, while incandescent light, like bulb light, can make the ruby appear more red than it actually is. When natural daylight is not available, a compact fluorescent light balanced at 5000K, which simulates natural daylight, can be an ideal alternative. However, the best approach is to observe the gemstone under various lighting conditions and then make a decision about the purchase.

Amidst all the factors discussed, the most important aspect is that the ruby should look visually appealing to your eye and have the ability to captivate anyone's attention. Ultimately, personal preference and the aesthetic appeal of the ruby play a significant role in the selection process.

If you're interested in purchasing rubies, we specialize in offering only unheated and untreated rubies. Every stone we provide comes with a gem-lab certification for authenticity and quality assurance. To explore our collection of rubies, please find the links to the respective categories below:

Burmese Rubies

Mozambique Rubies

West African Rubies

Ruby Cabochon

Natural Star Ruby

Thai Rubies

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