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Articles by Stan Paul

WISHING FOR “ RED” ON VALENTINE’S DAY? A Ruby will guarantee you Romance!

What you NEED to know when buying Ruby gemstones:

February has long been the month of romance where it was common for friends and lovers to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes.  On Valentines’ Day, we often buy red roses, candy in heart-shaped red boxes, and mushy red valentines with winged cherubs flying about shooting starry-eyed lovers with arrows.   We associate the color RED with love, vividness, passion, fidelity and power.  It emanates warmth and a strong sense of life.  Red elicits emotion, stimulates our heartbeat and breathing.  Wearing red is supposed to bring about invincibility.  Red represents valor, courage, hardiness, protection and loyalty.  Red pertains to life and survival.  Red is one of the basic primary colors. Royalty always walked down a red carpet.  Most national flags have the color red in them. Red denotes power and high efficiency.  Our faces turn red when we get emotional and women’s most popular color of lipstick is red. 

Red is also the color of Ruby, “the King of Gemstones”, which comes from the Sanskrit language. For thousands of years Ruby has been considered one of the most valuable gemstones on Earth.  To be classified as a “precious” stone, it has it all: a wonderfully rich color, excellent hardness and an overwhelming brilliance. It is also an extremely rare gemstone, especially in the finer qualities.  Ruby is the red variety of the Corundum mineral, one of the hardest minerals on Earth, which also includes Sapphires.  Ruby can be defined as opaque, translucent or transparent Corundum with medium to dark tones of red to purple-red in color. Corundum, that is light or very light in tone, is more properly called a “pink” Sapphire.

Over the years, a number of terms and classification nomenclature has been used to describe gemstone-grade Ruby.  These include:

Classifications and Grading:

  • Burmese, Burma or Oriental Ruby – the finest qualities have traditionally been called Burmese.   These fine grades are characterized by the deep, intense pure red color with a hint of blue, often described as “Pigeon’s Blood.”  They usually have no undesirable undertones or overtones of color.
  • Thai Ruby -- Stones mined in the region formerly known as Siam are characterized by dark red tones with brownish overtones sometimes resembling the Garnet in color.
  • Ceylon Ruby – Stones mined on the island of Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, are characterized by a bright, lighter shade of red with strong brilliance and purity of color.
  •  African Ruby -- Usually found in small sizes, these stones are characterized by a purplish-red color.

Characteristics of Ruby:

  • Chemical Composition -- Aluminum Oxide with Chromium Oxide causing the red color associated with Ruby
  • Hardness -- 9 on the Moh’s Hardness Table
  • Cleavage -- None
  • Fracture -- Conchoidal, splinter, brittle
  • Characteristic Inclusions -- Ruby often contains Rutile or negative crystals called “Silk” Other commonly found mineral inclusions are Zincon, Mica and Spinel
  • Fluorescence -- strong red.

It should be understood that the most important element of value in a Ruby is the intensity and  purity of its color, with red or slightly purplish-red being the most highly valued.  Stones with a brownish cast or those exhibiting orange overtones are less desirable. 

Cutting style and quality have a significant bearing on a Ruby’s value, as the depth of stone contributes greatly to the overall appearance of the stone’s color saturation.  In addition, the orientation to the original crystal structure has dramatic effect on the resulting color display.  Evenness of color, lack of surface imperfections, quality of the final polish and symmetry are important in the overall evaluation of fine Rubies.  These are also important in the final evaluation of any stone!

Treatments and Enhancements:

The most common treatments and enhancements of Rubies are:

  • Heat Treatment -- the rough stone is heated to a very high temperature resulting in permanent enhancement of the stone’s color.
  • Dyes, laminates and impregnated waxes are sometimes used to enhance the stone but do not stay permanently in the stone and should be avoided.  Be certain to ask your trusted jeweler when purchasing a Ruby.

Things to consider when buying a Ruby:

  • Color -- Look for intense pure red color with little or no undertones of brown.  Striping and uneven coloration is common in lower quality stones and should be avoided.
  • Clarity -- Inclusions are very common and their size and location should be carefully considered.
  • Cut -- Rubies are often cut in their countries of origin. Many of these stones were cut with emphasis on creating the heaviest stone from the rough crystal instead of cutting for the beauty achieved with proper proportion and orientation.  Although Ruby is the next hardest stone to the Diamond, surface imperfections such as pitting and striation should be at a minimum.  Finally, an even finish polish, quality of facet placement and symmetry should be considered.  Because of its hardness, Ruby can also be used safely in all types of jewelry, including rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces; unlike more brittle stones such as Emeralds, it can be safely bezel set.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, give a Ruby!  Valentine’s Day is also the second biggest day of the year for proposals and gifts of jewelry.   Celebrate the greatest human emotion… Love!  Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion to purchase fine Red Ruby jewelry that will express your love, declare your intentions, remind someone special about the intensity of your relationship or express your appreciation of a friendship.  If you are looking for “RED” in your romance, come in or call for an appointment now.  I will help you choose the finest Ruby.   I have been serving New England families for over 27 years and would like to be your trusted family jeweler!


This article was published in the North Shore Women's Journal

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