Rubies are very much in vogue nowadays; demand for rubies-along with diamonds – is one of the top trends in rings and there has been increasing demand for ruby rings for the past few years. This is understandable. Rubies are one of the 4 major gemstones and a premium ruby ring can often put some of the larger diamonds to shame.
The question is how do you detect the quality of a ruby ring; how do you assess the quality of the stone and the setting? How do you choose the one ruby ring that is right for you?
First of all the stone itself.
Ruby gemstones are a variety of a mineral called Corundum and the deep red color of a Ruby Gemstone is due to the presence of a small amount of chromium that gives it its rich red coloration. Interestingly, other “impurities” will make the stone blue and we then get a sapphire.
The best ruby gemstones have a rich purplish, some say a carmine red color, that has a warm, fiery glow. The brightest and most valuable red rubies are called pigeon blood red rubies and command a large premium over other rubies of similar quality.
Almost all rubies available for sale nowadays are described as “natural”. However it is common practice amongst jewelers to treat the stones using some form of heat or chemical treatment. This enhances the color and the clarity of the stones.
Most companies that you will find selling ruby gemstone rings treat their stones in some way; there are very few that leave the stones in their natural state.
Colors of rubies can vary considerably and are viewed by a jeweler in terms of their “hue”, “saturation” and “tone”
The hue: this can vary from light orange to red and through to deep purple.
The saturation – also known as intensity or purity: some rubies can be masked by brown or gray, which is undesirable
The tone: this is the degree of color from light to dark in the ruby
The ruby is one of the hardest natural gemstones and belongs to a class of minerals called Corundum – which is a form of Aluminium Oxide. Rubies are one of the hardest natural gemstones, second only to the diamond in hardness.
The next question: shape and cut …….
The second factor to consider in choosing your ruby ring: do you want a solitaire ruby, a cluster of rubies or a combination of ruby and say a diamond ring.
If you opt for a solitaire ruby, the cut and shape of the ruby becomes critical.
Gemstones are cut to maintain maximum weight while optimizing color and brilliance. A well cut ruby is able to handle the play of light and the gemstone comes alive and sparkles as light flashes across the facets.
Cut is different and totally separate from shape: shape refers to the physical form of the stone. Cut determines how well the shape has been executed.
The most popular shapes have traditionally been the (rectangular) cushion cut and round ruby shapes but oval, pear shapes and even marquise shapes are becoming increasingly popular and starting to capture people’s imagination.
Cluster ruby rings are rings with a group of rubies in a setting, which usually consists of one larger stone (usually round or oval) in the center circled by smaller stones.The overall effect is that of a single large ruby and this is a good way of making your budget go further.
Another option is to go for a three stone or five stone ring. Some people prefer all three stones to be rubies, while some prefer two smaller diamonds flanking the centre stone ruby. There has been a trend towards five stone ruby rings; these seldom have all the five stones as rubies and the emphasis here is on the design. It then comes down to personal choice.
At some point early on is the decision as to the metal to be used for the band itself. Yellow gold or white gold, 10k or 14k, platinum or even rose gold?
Of course affordability is often an issue. But part from this the choice of metal will depend upon the preference of the wearer. Yellow gold and white gold are equally popular with rose gold trending upwards over the past year or so.
The most popular settings for ruby rings – and for other stones for that matter are:
Bezel: this has a metal rim that fits around the gemstone at the circumference to securely hold the stone securely in place.
Prong: a metal claw protrudes from the band to hold the gemstone in place. It is probably the most secure and therefore the most widely used setting. Prongs are best suited for showcasing large gemstones. For solitaire rings, usually four to six prongs are used. The number of prongs depends on the style, the security of the stone and the ring design.
Channel: this is a groove in the metal band that holds a row of stones between two parallel bars. The stones are usually positioned next to each other without any metal bars between them.
Invisible: this setting showcases several rows of stones without any metal to interrupt the pattern. The gemstones have grooves cut into them and these are set into the band so that the metal underneath is invisible.
Pave: this setting has tiny balls (10, 14, 18 k gold or platinum) which secure many small gemstones in a pattern. Pave settings have a high sparkle effect and create the look of a path or field of gemstones.
In the past, Kings and Queens, Emperors and Dictators have been the privileged few able to afford gemstones such as rubies to wear on ceremonial occasions.
Ruby gemstones are now a popular choice for many people who want an alternative to a single diamond – or like an element of color. Ruby red is evocative not only of passion but the warmth of deep love – and is therefore an ideal gemstone for an engagement ring, or any other kind of ring where the emphasis is on love.
For those looking for a ruby ring, we have put together a selection of some of the best ruby rings available today. See our Ruby Ring Selection.
Whilst diamonds have a color grading system, rubies do not and selecting a ruby by color is generally very much down to the eye of the jeweler.
The other aspect to take into account when buying a ruby is it’s clarity. Rubies are prone to a range of different inclusions – or blemishes. Some of the common blemishes found in rubies are:
- Silk: these are fine fibers of other minerals, such as titanium oxide, that resemble silk strands. When these are found they indicate that the ruby is of natural origin and has not been subjected to heat treatment
- Needles – also known as rutile needles: long thin crystals or gas and liquid filed tubes
- Cracks: fractures and fissures. Healed fractures often look like fingerprints
- Color zoning: these are growth layers that developed as the corundum crystal formed and create distinct areas of color that show as concentric hexagonal zones and uneven patches of color
Nowadays it is common practice to treat ruby gemstones in this way and most of the ruby jewelry on the market has been treated in some way. According to jewelers this guarantees a better quality for the buyer.
See our Ruby Gemstone Rings Selection.