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July Birthstone: Ruby

By Tony on 7/18/2016


One of the most famous gemstones, the Ruby, is used to celebrate the July birthday. Ruby is one of the most well-known and versatile gems and can be found in many different jewelry pieces and more. Best known by its deep red color, the Ruby is second only to the diamond and moissanite in durability and hardness. A member of the corundum gem species, this birthstone has a lot of history and interest.

Color of the Ruby and Value

Ruby is considered to be one of four different "precious gems". This would include diamond, sapphire, emerald and the ruby. While Rubies are made of the mineral 'corundum' so are sapphires and other gemstones. The main difference between these gemstones is the deep red colors in the ruby, although pink or red colors can be seen in sapphires as well. The distinct red color comes from the element of chromium.

Ruby vs. Pink Sapphire

As we stated before, Sapphires and Rubies are very similar in composition and one of the more distinct and defining traits to tell the difference is their color. However, sapphire's too can come in a pink or reddish color and still be considered a sapphire and not a ruby. In general, corundum that is red or in shades of red/pink are considered rubies. However, in the U.S. there is a minimum threshold of color saturation for the gem to be called a ruby, otherwise it will be classified as a pink sapphire. This is one of the most argued and debated points within the jewelry industry of recent times.

Factors for Value and Price

The main factor for the price of this birthstone is factored by the color. The deeper and more vibrant the red color, the larger the price of the ruby (all other factors remaining constant). The most sought after and highest valued color is described as the blood red or known as "pigeon blood" color (referring to the color of a white pigeon's eye, not it's actual blood). When the stone has too much purple or orange tones, it is usually referred to as a 'fancy sapphire' instead. The color is divided into three distinct elements:

  • Hue - this refers to the color in the most common sense of the word (such as the famous red hue and the 'purest form' of the color).
  • Saturation - the intensity of the hue or color (or how close it is to a 'pure red' or the pinkish color).
  • Tone - the shade of the stone (deeper red tones).

Like diamond's 4 C's, the other factors would be the other C's:

  • Clarity - how clear the birthstone looks (without inclusions).
  • Carat - how big in weight the birthstone is.
  • Cut - how the stone is cut in shape and quality.

Treatments, Enhancements, and Synthetic Rubies

Many of the rubies found in nature are not of the gemstone quality for use in things such as jewelry. However, with modern technology, jewelers can create a better quality of these birthstones in order to use them for accents on a ring or other jewelry pieces. The two most popular ways of treating and enhancing these gems are by heat treatments and lead glass filling treatments. Common factors and fixes for Rubies include:

  • Color Alteration - most commonly by heat treatment.
  • Improving Clarity - typically done by filling cracks in the stone or the common rutile inclusions found in the gem, known as lead glass filling.
  • Healing or Filling Fractures - this too is done by the lead glass filling process, all done with rounds of heat treatment.

Many of these treatments can hide the impurity and imperfections very well to the naked eye. However, many jewelers can easily identify the unnatural occurrences made to create these enhancements with their jeweler's loupe.

Synthetic Rubies

In this industry, many gems can either be lab created (such as the lab-created diamonds) or imitations are tried to be passed off. Rubies in fact are some of the most synthetic or imitated gems in the industry. This is most likely a cause of their demand and value throughout history. The first synthetic rubies were created in the early 1800's and were not truly mass-produced until the early 1900's. The uses of these artificial rubies are for both technological, like lasers, to gemological purposes that we may use.

Imitation rubies have been around for centuries, although they are not synthetic or lab made, they have been tried to be passed off as rubies. This was seen in as early as 17th Century Rome, where red colored foil was put under another stone to create the red color. More modern forms of imitation are trying to pass red spinels, garnets, rubellite (red tourmaline) and colored glass as rubies.

The Birthstone for July

With all the love for Rubies it is no surprise that they would be found as a birthstone for one of the months. With beliefs that they guarantee wealth, success, love and more, the ruby has become a staple of our society. Whether used for the purposes of technology or jewelry, the ruby may be one of the most important gems and birthstones we know.

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