The Many Different Shades of Ruby Gemstones ~ July’s Birthstone

There are many different shades of ruby gemstones, depending on their origin and the presence of trace elements in their crystal structure. Rubies are a type of corundum mineral that are known for their deep red color, which is caused by the presence of chromium in the crystal structure. Other trace elements such as iron, titanium, and vanadium result in shades of pink, purple, orange, and brown.

When describing a color in gemmology (study of gems), the primary color is stated last and the secondary color stated first. So, for rubies the primary color is red and some of the most common ruby shades are purplish-red, orange-red and brownish-red. 'Pink ruby' is actually pink sapphire and although strictly speaking all rubies are also sapphires, red sapphires have always been described separately as rubies.

The country of origin can also play a role in ruby color and quality. Rubies from Myanmar (formerly Burma) are a deep red color (called "pigeon's blood") with high clarity, while rubies from Thailand have more inclusions and are often lighter in color. In Africa, rubies mined in Madagascar are pinkish-red, while rubies found in Mozambique are often a darker red. Types of ruby gemstones according to their country of origin are Burmese Ruby, Thai Ruby, Tanzania Ruby, Madagascar Ruby. Mozambique Ruby and Indian Ruby.

Deep Red Ruby Shade with Diamond Birthstone Ring
Deep Red Ruby Engagement Ring by Honngai Jewelry

Deep Red Ruby Jewelry

Ruby Colors and Quality Grading

The quality of a ruby is determined primarily by the cut, weight, color and clarity. There are four grades - A, AA, AAA and B, with A being the best and rarest quality and B the lowest and most common quality.

When assessing the color of a gemstone, aspects include the hue, saturation and tone. Ruby colors or hues range from red (ideal), through orange to purple. Saturation can be vivid (ideal), strong, fair, medium and weak which indicates the effect of brown or grey on the color.  Tone refers to how much color is in a ruby gemstone and can be very dark, dark, medium (ideal), light and very light. Clarity refers to the number of inclusions and whether they are visible to the naked eye and there are a number of grades to define clarity. Gemnation have a matrix showing the 25 possible effects of the saturation and tone on the primary red hue.

Lab or 'created' rubies have the same chemical composition as natural rubies, including chromium that gives the gemstone its deep red shade. During the manufacturing process the color can be controlled by adjusting the amount of chromium and other trace elements and so produce various colors of rubies such as deep red, pink or purple.

Purplish-red shade of ruby necklace
Natural Ruby 3 Stone Necklace by Catching Wildflowers

Handmade Raw Ruby Jewelry

Famous Rubies

Rubies have a rich history and have been prized for their beauty and rarity for centuries and were believed to have magical powers in ancient times. Today, rubies are still highly valued and are often set in engagement rings and other fine jewelry and ruby is the birthstone for July.

There are many famous jewels that feature rubies:

1. The Sunrise Ruby: A 25.59 carat cushion-cut Burmese ruby that sold for $30.3 million in 2015.

2. The Crimson Flame Ruby: A 15.04 carat cushion-cut Burmese ruby that sold for $18 million in 2015.

3. The Liberty Bell Ruby: The largest mined ruby in the world, weighing 8,500 carats.

4. The Rosser Reeves Ruby: A 138.7 carat Sri Lankan star ruby that belonged to American advertising executive Rosser Reeves.

5. The DeLong Star Ruby: A 100.32 carat Burmese star ruby that was donated to the American Museum of Natural History in 1937.

6. The Black Prince’s Ruby: An uncut red stone that sits at the front of the Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom was initially thought to be a ruby but later discovered to be red spinel.

In conclusion, rubies are a fascinating gemstone with a rich history and a wide range of colors and origins. Whether you’re interested in the deep red rubies of Myanmar or the pinkish-red rubies of Madagascar, there’s no denying the beauty and allure of this precious gemstone. Ruby birthstone jewelry makes for a meaningful July birthday gift accompanied by a special birthday card for July.

Gold and Lab Ruby July Tennis Bracelet
Lab Created Ruby Tennis Bracelet by Brilliant Earth

Lab Created Ruby Jewelry

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