Rubies get their deep red color from chromium in the mineral corundum, which is also the hard foundation stone of sapphires. Rubies are rarer than sapphires, in part because sapphires encompass gemstones that range in color from blue to pink to orange. In contrast, rubies are always and only some variation of red, although jewelers have been known to market pink sapphires as rubies since rubies command a premium price.

While rubies are mined around the world, the biggest supplier of stones is Thailand. The corundum found there is plentiful, but it contains enough iron to give Thai rubies a brownish tinge. Just across the border, however, in Myanmar, iron is almost absent from that nation’s corundum, especially in the rock taken from mines in the Mogok district, source of the most desirable rubies in the world.

Though normally associated with high-end pieces of fine jewelry, small rubies have been used historically for more modest purposes. For example, in the Victorian Era, rubies were combined with other gemstones to create acrostic rings, in which the first letter in the name of each stone spelled out the word "dearest," (i.e., diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, sapphire, and topaz).

Still, rubies are a stone of royalty, the upper echelons of society, and movie stars. Mary Pickford, Paulette Goddard, and Merle Oberon are just a few of the leading ladies who wore ruby brooches, necklaces, bracelets, and rings (usually surrounded by diamonds, thank you very much). The Duchess of Windsor wore numerous ruby pieces produced by designers at Van Cleef & Arpels. Socialite Mona Bismark favored ruby-and-diamond necklaces, earrings, and bracelets by Cartier.

Like sapphires and many other gemstones, rubies are heat-treated to make their colors more vivid and rich. In addition to the Thai rubies that are prepared for market this way, rubies from Vietnam and Tanzania are also heat-treated to bring out the red in the stone. These rubies, including the ones mined near Songea in Tanzania, are often heated alongside beryllium to produce stones that are a beautiful reddish-orange. Unfortunately, beryllium is toxic, which means the people who work with it to produce finished rubies are probably doing so at their peril.

Also similar to sapphires, some rubies exhibit asterism, a star effect that can been seen when the stone is moved into and out of the light. In rubies, when fibers in a mineral called rutile line up just right, the result is a six-ray star.

Finally, one of the appeals of rubies is the fact that they tend to be imperfect and marked with any number of internal flaws. What’s interesting to the collector is that these cavities and mineral inclusions can often be used to pinpoint the ruby’s country of origin, as well as its manufacture. For example, rutile and calcite are common to rubies from Myanmar, while fracturing around inclusions within a stone can be evidence that the ruby was heat-treated.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

All About Jewels Dictionary

All About Jewels Dictionary

This incredible reference dictionary on jewelry, from Enchantedlearning.com, is both beautiful and comprehensive. S… [read review or visit site]

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Morning Glory Antiques and Jewelry

Jewelry collectors, feast your eyes on this internet gem! It's a goldmine of jewelry information featuring all styl… [read review or visit site]

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

Cathy Gordon's Jewelry Gallery

With its vast galleries featuring clear images of jewelry and style, this site really covers it all! Divided up by … [read review or visit site]

Jewel History

Jewel History

Since March of 2007, readers of Lori Ettlinger Gross’s Jewel History blog have been treated to her weekly (someti… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Fine Old Euro Diamond Natural Ruby 18k Gold Art Deco Halo Ring 1930sVintage Platinum Beautiful 4.50ct Diamond/ruby/sapphire/topaz Charm BraceletEstate 7.95ct Emerald Ruby Sapphire 18k Gold Bangle Bracelet 38.3 Grams NrEstate 13.95ct Emerald Ruby Sapphire 18k Gold Bangle Bracelet 51.5 Grams NrGorgeous Vintage Certified 18ct Yellow Gold, Ruby & Diamond Dress Ring18 Ct Gold .25 Diamond & Ruby Ring. Vintage / Antique / Engagement. Size M - N.Fine 19th Century Ruby Silver Bangle,925Pretty Vintage 9ct Gold Ruby And Pearl Brooch, Chester 1920Estate Diamond Ruby Emerald Onyx 18k Gold Elephant Charm Bracelet 21.4 Grams NrAntique 1870s Victorian Natural Ruby Old Euro Diamond 18k Gold Ladies Band RingAntique Platinum 4.0ct French Cut Ruby Stackable 2-pcs. Eternity Band Ring Set18ct/ 18k White Gold Diamond & Ruby Fine Art Deco Design Cluster Ring, 750Estate Diamond 4.40ct Ruby 14k White Gold Dangle Necklace 26.3 Grams NrPair Vintage 9ct Gold Ruby Green Jade Drop EarringsRuby Emerald Sapphire & Diamond Ring/band Solid 14k Yellow Gold! Vintage Estate **antique Star Ruby 60pt Diamond Ring H-i Vs2 Single Cuts 18k White Gold Fine 18ct Gold Ruby Eyed Snake Ring 18k 750 Beautiful Antique Edwardian 18ct Gold Ruby & Diamond Ring Birmingham 190418ct Gold Diamond & Ruby Victorian Art Nouveau Love Heart Pendant On Chain, 750Victorian Style 9ct Gold Ruby Diamond Ladies Bangle BraceletMint!!! Vtg 1940's Rhodium Plated Coro Duette Ruby & Clear Rhinestone BroochEstate 2.8ct Natural Red Ruby And Diamond 14k Solid Yellow Gold Ring18ct/ 18k Gold & Platinum Diamond & Ruby Art Deco Ring, 75018ct/ 18k Yellow & White Gold Cabochon Ruby Art Deco Design Ring, 750Estate 5.10ct Sapphire Ruby 18k Yellow Gold Link Bracelet NrGreek Vintage Heavy 18k Gold .65ctw Diamond/ruby Lion's Head Clip-on EarringsRuby Emerald Sapphire & Diamond Ring/band Solid 14k Yellow Gold! Vintage Estate 14ct/14k 14carat Fine Heavy Art Deco Ruby And Seed Pearl Ring 585Vintage 14k Yellow Gold / Ruby / Diamonds Ladies Ring Size 7.25Vintage Rare 100% Genuine Levian Ruby & Diamond 14k Gold Cocktail RingVintage Jomaz Rhodium Plate Ruby Crystal Rhinestone Collar Necklace**estate 18k Yellow Gold/ Platinum 4pts Diamond 1/4ct Ruby Band 3.1 Grams Edwardian, Filagree 14 K Gold Dinner Ring Diamond Chip Big Ruby Color StonesEstate Diamond 0.57ct Ruby 14k Yellow Gold Buckle Band Ring Nr 3.4Genuine Ruby Diamond Ring 14k Yellow Gold Wide Band Designer Effy Size 7.5 $250018ct/18k Fine Victorian Ruby And Seed Pearl Gold Cluster Ring 750Fine 9ct Gold Ruby And Diamond Art Deco Design Drop Earrings 9k 375Vtg Couture Christian Dior Gold Plate Ruby Emerald Sapphire Rhinestone EarringsPair Vintage 9ct Yellow & White Gold Ruby Diamond Drop EarringsVintage Double Strand Cultured Akoya Pearl Bracelet~14k Gold & Ruby Box ClaspAntique Elgin 18s Bwr Pocketwatch Made 1898 17 Ruby Jewels Adj. Hunter Case RunsAntique 2 Ct Ruby & Pearl Ring 15k Yellow Gold Natural Untreated Round Victorian9ct/9k Diamond & Ruby Cluster Cross Pendant, 375Estate Diamond 0.56ct Ruby 18k White Gold Bow Band Ring NrEstate $4500 18k White Gold 5.00 Ct Natural Purple Amethyst, Ruby, Diamond RingAntique Vintage Nouveau 18k Gold Ruby Diamond Opal Enamel Butterfly Pin Brooch!Estate Diamond 3.85ct Ruby 14k White Gold Link Bracelet 8.2 Grams NrFine Novelty 22ct Gold Chinese Ruby Eyed Owl Pendant/charm 22k 916Estate Diamond Emerald Sapphire Ruby 14k Gold Bow Band Ring Nr9ct Gold Diamond,emerald, Ruby & Sapphire Art Deco Design Large & Heavy Ring,375Beautiful Vintage Certified Stamped 14ct White Gold, Ruby & Diamond BraceletAntique Vintage C. 1940 Deco 10k Gold Aquamarine Simulated Ruby Ring! Sz 5Signed Weiss Vintage Brooch Shield Sapphire Ruby Glass Rhinestone Leaf Pearl D30Superb Art Deco 4.00 Ct Baguette Cut Pink Ruby & Rose Cut Diamond 18ct Gold Ring14ct/ 14k Gold Diamond & Ruby Heavy Princes Ring, 585Estate Diamond Ruby 14k Gold Two Tone Buckle Band Ring NrSuberb 18ct Gold Sapphire Ruby & Diamond Leopard Pendant/broochVintage Genuine 14k Yellow Gold Natural Ruby Tennis Line BraceletVintage Jomaz Rhodium Plate Ruby Crystal Rhinestone BraceletAntique Hamilton 940 18s Pocketwatch Made 1914 21 Ruby Jewels Adj. Rr Grade Runs