The Ultimate Ruby Buying Guide

The Ultimate Ruby Buying Guide

Rubies are one of the most popular, highly sought-after colored stones on the jewelry market, unparalleled in beauty and prestige. These wondrous gems are distinctive in their rich, saturated hue, making them undeniably breathtaking, setting them apart from all other semi-precious and precious stones. 

How can you shop for the best ruby? This blog post will cover the basics and determine which influencing factors pertaining to rubies will allow you to have the most rewarding buying experience. Indulge in glamor, color, and exclusivity with a ruby you will love and that will get passed down many generations.

Ruby Basics & Background

Rubies are the red variety of the corundum mineral family, making them a relative to sapphires. Rubies are distinguished by their red shade, setting them apart from pink sapphires. These ultra unique stones rate 8 to 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making them practical investment purchases. It is also the birthstone of July and considered to ward of bad vibrations and negative influences.

Rubies are considered a very important colored stone worldwide.  They are part of the “Big 3,” a gem group including rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.  According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), rubies may sometimes command the highest price per carat of any other colored stone. 

Factors to Look for When Shopping for Rubies 

Here are some factors to consider when shopping for a ruby. 

COLOR: Rubies are denoted in quality by their unique shade of red caused by chromium. A high-quality ruby exhibits an intense, rich red, which is the result of containing more chromium. Color zoning creates color variation within the stone, giving some spots less color than others, appearing as an uneven color distribution.

Best-quality rubies display deep red to slightly purplish-red. Lesser quality rubies frequently have a light pink color, overtones of orange, or a noticeable purple tinge. The ruby should have a medium tone, not too dark or pale.

Lower-quality rubies may be hard to distinguish between shades of pink sapphire. Borderline pink/red corundum may be marketed as rubies even though they closely resemble a pink sapphire. In some countries, pink corundum is sold as ruby and not pink sapphire.

Do you think the stone is pink or red? Asking this question helps determine if it’s the ruby you have in mind. 

BLEMISHES: Rubies are known to be highly included stones and are rarely, if ever, without inclusions. Blemishes reduce the overall beauty, interfering with the stone’s structure.

Sometimes, rubies interiors are filled with treatment to preserve the stone and reinforce its hardness. Any treatments must be disclosed during the sale. Fracture-filling will reduce the value significantly.

Higher quality rubies will be eye clean, meaning the ruby will not appear to have inclusions and other blemishes observed by the naked eye.

ORIGIN: Have you ever wondered where the best quality of rubies come from? Burma (Myanmar) is the prominent worldwide source for high-quality rubies. Burma is home to some of the most rare, finest rubies with a vibrant red known as Pigeon’s Blood. Mozambique, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Madagascar and few more countries have been a source for rubies. Burmese Rubies and specifically those from the Mogok valley in Burma usually command a higher price due largely to traditional beliefs they tend to be of better hue and saturation among both consumers and suppliers.

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CUT & SHAPE: Rubies are available in most common shapes, making your design dream come true. Select from pear, oval, cushion, round, emerald cut/rectangular step cuts, baguette, princess/square, marquise, and more.  

The cut quality means symmetry within its shape, thickness of the girdle, shallow uneven pavilion, or non-symmetrical table/top. These detrimental factors reduce the ruby’s value. The stone should be able to hold the caratage with standard or symmetric measurements. 


The basic ruby quality factors include color, clarity, and cut. Caratage and shape denote your personal budget, style, and look. Rubies should exhibit a “straight” red with medium tones, little undertones and no overtones. Rubies always have inclusions–the less inclusions, the higher value of the stone. Rubies are hard–however, blemishes throughout the stone interfere with this strong crystal structure. Always ask about treatments–most rubies are heat-treated, but some may be fracture filled. Heat treatment is a stable and widely accepted practice even in fine jewelry circles as long as they are disclosed and most bonafide labs can easily test for this and include this information on certification. While fracture filled rubies will almost never feature in fine jewelry and are sold at deeply discounted prices not warranting certification for even larger size stones. 

In summary, Rubies are a wondrous gem and unlike no other. They are a stalwart in any collection and the perfect gift to oneself or a loved one.

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