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 JewelHistory blog have been treated to her weekly (sometim… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Sylvan Bros 10.40ctw Colorless Diamond Ruby 18k Gold Floral BraceletVintage Estate Natural Ruby And Diamond 18k Gold Omega Back Dangle Drop EarringsAntique Victorian 14k Gold Fly Insect Opal Diamond Ruby Tie Stick PinStunning Pair Of Victorian Ruby And Turquoise 18ct Gold Drop EarringsFinest Antique Georgian 15ct Gold Precious White Opal Ruby Diamond Ring 1819Fine Heavy Ruby Eyed Gold Coiled Snake BangleArt Deco Platinum Double Sided Square Ruby Sapphire Band Ring Eternity RingAmazing Indian 23k Gold 10.75ctw Natural Ruby Emerald Diamond BraceletFine Art Deco Ruby And Diamond 18ct Gold Pendant And ChainFine Art Deco Design Ruby And Diamond Gold RingQuality Antique English 18k Gold Platinum Ruby Diamond Cluster Ring Fine Art Deco Design Ruby & Diamond 18k Gold RingRare Antique 9 Carat Gold Ruby Set Watch Chain Charm Fob Of Top Hat & Cane.Estate 3.15ct Diamond Ruby 18k Gold Drop Heart Pendant NrAntique Victorian 12k Rose Gold Opal Pearl Ruby Watch Slide Chain Necklace HdmcoHeavy Vintage 14k Gold Elegant 1.60ctw Diamond/ruby Chain Link BraceletFine Antique 18ct Gold And Platinum Ruby And Diamond Ring Size L Estate Vintage Natural 1.01ctw Ruby Sapphire Emerald & Diamond 18k Gold NecklaceVintage 18k Gold Fancy Unique 1.58ctw Emerald/ruby Floral Cocktail Ring Size 7.5Fine 19th Century Austro Hungarian Ruby Silver BangleFine Ruby And Diamond 18ct Gold Full Eternity RingVintage $10,000 20ct Natural Ruby 14k Rose Gold Band Ring18k Solid Gold Antique Handcrafted Ruby & Diamond Ring Sz 5.5 SpectacularAntique Retro 2.00ct Ruby 18k Gold Star Dome Ring 8.2 Grams NrA Fine Antique 18ct Gold Diamond And Ruby Ring2.02ct Cabochon Red Ruby Etruscan Wide Cigar Band Brushed Florentine 14k Yellow Antique 18ct Gold Ladies 5 Stone Ruby Diamond RingEstate 0.40ct Ruby 22k Gold Double Stranded Snake Bangle Bracelet 60.2 Grams NrFine Pair Of Ruby And Diamond 18ct Gold Drop Earrings4 Ct Ruby & Diamond Dangle Earrings 14k Yellow Gold Natural Round Cut Estate14ct Yellow Gold Opal Pink Ruby Cluster Flower Ring Size L Vintage Jewellery CoAntique Etruscan $12,000 1940s Tiffany & Co 5ct Ruby 18k Gold Bracelet RareVictorian Style 9ct Gold Diamond Emerald Amethyst Ruby Dearest RingArt Nouveau 9ct Pink Gold, Opal,ruby & Pearl Pendant - Knox - Mb -stunning PieceAntique 15ct Gold 2 Ruby & 3 Pearl Boxed Dress Ring . U.k Size N 1/2 Dated 1872Estate .30ct Round Ruby & Diamond Channel Set Ring 14k Yellow Gold $1400 L044Estate 14k Yellow Gold Natural Ruby & Diamond Levian Signed Ring Vintage Antique Mens Womens Ruby Ring 10k Solid Yellow Gold Antique 18ct Gold Ladies 5 Stone Ruby Diamond RingAntique 14k White Gold Filigree Emerald Cut Ruby Red Ring Art Deco 1920's 3 Ct Estate 14 K Yellow White Gold Cabochon Opal Diamond Ruby Cluster Cocktail RingVintage! 14k Yellow Gold Pendant With 42.20 Ctw Jade, Diamond And Ruby! # P1Vintage "joshua" 14k Solid Gold And Ruby With Diamonds Slide Bracelet Charm Estate 3.14ct Diamond Ruby 14k Gold Pin Brooch NrVictorian European Origin .80ctw Ruby Rose Cut Diamond 18k Gold Engagement RingRare Civil War Era Victorian Old Mine Cut Diamond Natural Ruby 14k Gold RingAntique 18ct Gold Ladies Ruby Diamond Cluster Ring Art Deco Nicolet Watch Co Ruby And Diamond 14ct & 18ct Gold Wristwatch, BoxedMen Women Ring Antique Vintage Colectible Estate Deco Ruby Diamond 10k Gold 7.0gFine Art Deco Design Ruby And Diamond 18ct Gold RingVintage 1960s Eames Era 18k White Gold Natural Ruby Diamond Funky Space Age PinVintage Boucher Lariat Necklace Pave And Ruby Lantern Gold Tone PendantsHigh End Vintage Deco Genuine Ruby 5.5 Ct Engagement Diamond Ring 14k Solid Gold7.25cts Tambetti Cabochon Ruby & Green Onyx Diamond 18k Gold Ring 24.9 Grams NrAntique 23k Gold Natural Emerald Ruby India Vintage Indian RingFine Art Deco Design Ruby And Diamond Gold Cluster RingPair Heavy Vintage 14ct Gold Ruby Diamond Ladies Earrings Ruby Ring - Victorian Ruby & Cushion Cut Diamond 18ct Gold Ring Circa 1900Antique English Victorian 18k Gold Ruby Diamond Scroll Band Ring London 1902Huge Platinum 5ctw Natural Ruby 1ctw Diamond Christian Cross Pendant W Chain