Rubies are among the most popular gemstones in the world, prized for their rich red colour and exceptional beauty. But choosing the perfect ruby can be a daunting task, especially if you are not familiar with the various factors that determine a ruby’s quality and value. This article will explore the aspects to consider and provide valuable tips on how to choose a ruby that meets your budget and preferences.
Choosing the Ruby’s Colour
Choosing the right colour for ruby is essential to finding the perfect gemstone. Rubies come in a range of shades, from pinkish-red to deep red, and to figure out which ruby colour is the best, we need to consider three components – hue, saturation and tonal grade.
The hue of a ruby refers to the primary colour of the stone. The most valuable rubies have a pure, vibrant red hue with no hints of brown, orange, or purple. However, personal preference also plays a role in selecting the shade of your gem. Some people prefer a pinkish-red or orange-red hue, which may be less valuable but still beautiful.
Saturation refers to the intensity of the colour in the ruby. A ruby with high saturation will have a more vivid and intense colour, while a stone with low saturation will appear dull and lifeless. When choosing a ruby, look for one with high saturation that makes the colour pop.
The tonal grade of a ruby refers to how light or dark the colour is. Rubies can range from light pink to dark red, but gemstones with a medium tone are considered the most desirable, as they have a balance of light and dark.
It is also worth mentioning that the lighting in which you view the ruby can affect its colour appearance. Natural light is often the best lighting to view rubies, as it allows you to see the true colour and saturation of the stone. When viewing a ruby in a jewellery store or under artificial lighting, ask to see the gem in natural light or daylight-equivalent lamps to get an accurate representation of its colour.
Choosing the Ruby’s Clarity
The clarity of a ruby is another factor to consider when choosing a gemstone. Ruby clarity refers to the presence or absence of inclusions, natural imperfections that occur during the gemstone’s formation. While some inclusions are tolerated and do not affect the ruby’s beauty or value, others can affect its appearance and durability.
Inclusions can vary in type and size, from specks to visible flaws. Some common inclusions in rubies include crystals, clouds, and feathers. While crystals and clouds are typically considered normal and do not affect the ruby’s appearance, feathers can be more problematic as they can cause the stone to crack or break, so it is recommended to look for a stone with minimal or no feathers.
The location of inclusions in the ruby can also affect its value and appearance. Inclusions that are located near the surface of the stone are more visible and can affect its transparency and brilliance. Inclusions located deep within the stone are less visible and can have less of an impact on its appearance.
The size of inclusions is another factor to consider. Large inclusions can be more visible and affect the stone’s transparency, while smaller inclusions may be less noticeable. When choosing a ruby, look for one with small inclusions that do not affect its transparency or beauty.
Rubies with fewer inclusions and higher transparency are generally more valuable and have a better appearance. However, personal preference also plays a role, and some people prefer a ruby with more inclusions as they can give the stone character and make it unique.
Choosing the Ruby’s Cut
Rubies can be cut into a variety of shapes; however, as the gemstone’s crystal shape affects its cut and proportions, the most common ruby cuts available on the market are oval and cushion.
Proportion and symmetry are the factors to consider when choosing the ruby’s cut. A well-proportioned ruby will have a balanced depth and width, translating into enhanced brilliance and fire. So when selecting a ruby, look for one with good proportions that make the stone appear more vibrant and valuable.
Symmetry refers to how well the facets and angles of the stone match up with each other. When choosing a ruby, look for one with good symmetry that enhances its overall appearance. It is also worth mentioning that rubies with more facets generally appear more brilliant, while those with fewer facets may appear dull and lifeless.
Choosing the Ruby’s Carat Weight
A typical range for ruby carat weight available on the market is between 0.50 to 3 carats, with stones over 3 carats considered rare and valuable. As the carat weight of a ruby increases, so does its price. However, it is important to note that a smaller ruby of higher quality may be more valuable than a larger ruby of lower quality.
To give you an idea of price comparisons for ruby carat weights, here are some estimated prices based on a medium-quality ruby:
- 0.50-carat ruby: $500 – $1,000
- 1-carat ruby: $2,000 – $5,000
- 2-carat ruby: $8,000 – $15,000
- 3-carat ruby: $20,000 – $30,000
Of course, prices can vary greatly based on the quality of the ruby and other factors, such as the presence of inclusions or treatments, which is why it is important to work with a reputable jeweller who can help you navigate the pricing and quality of different ruby carat weights.
Determining the Ruby’s Origin and Treatment
Determining the origin and treatment of a ruby is an important step in evaluating its value and quality.
The origin of a ruby can significantly affect its price. Rubies from certain regions, such as “pigeon’s blood” ruby from Burma (now Myanmar), are known for their high quality and command a premium price.
To determine the origin of a ruby, gemologists use a combination of scientific testing and visual inspection. One way to identify the origin is to examine inclusions or natural imperfections, as rubies from different regions may have distinct inclusions that help identify their origin. Additionally, gemologists may use spectroscopy to analyze the chemical composition of the ruby and compare it to known samples from specific regions.
Rubies are often treated to improve their colour and clarity. Common treatments include heat treatment, used to enhance the colour and clarity of the stone, and fracture filling, used to hide cracks and improve clarity.
To determine if a ruby has been treated, gemologists use a variety of tests, including microscopic examination, X-ray diffraction, and spectroscopy. Heat treatment, for example, can cause changes in the crystal structure of the gem, which can be detected through these tests.
It is important to note that treated rubies are often less valuable than untreated stones. However, some treatments, such as heat treatment, are commonly accepted in the industry and may not significantly affect the value.
When purchasing a ruby, remember to work with a reputable jeweller who can provide information on the origin and treatment of the stone. An experienced gemologist can help you evaluate the value and quality of the ruby and ensure that you are getting a stone that meets your needs and budget.
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