Welcome to Gemstones 101, a series at Takayas Custom Jewelry where we shed a little light on the amazing gemstones we love to feature in our jewelry projects. This week’s entry puts the spotlight on July’s dazzlingly red gemstone, the powerful ruby!
Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum, which in turn is a crystalline form of aluminum oxide. While corundum is colorless in its purest form, trace elements such as iron, titanium, vanadium, and more transform gems into an endless array of beautiful colors – and color does matter when it comes to defining which particular variety a given specimen belongs to! If it’s blue, purple, green, yellow, orange, white, or even black, your corundum is considered a sapphire. Only jewels that exhibit shades of red get the honor of being called a ruby.
Before the development of the science-backed gemology practices we enjoy today, color could sometimes be one of the only qualifiers that classified a stone as a ruby. Many individual stones that have historically been regarded as rubies have in modern times been revealed to be red spinels, including the “Black Prince’s Ruby” that sits within the Imperial State Crown of England. Even today, however, drawing distinctions between what is a ruby and what is not a can be difficult! Although the United States requires a minimum color saturation for a corundum to be considered a ruby rather than a pink sapphire, most international trade organizations accept a broader definition for ruby that includes its lighter hues.
Regardless of whether your ruby is blood-red or light pink, you should keep a close eye to make sure that it’s at least real corundum. As the most highly-valued colored gem of all, imitation rubies have been on the market since antiquity for people looking to own the sparkle at a lower price – or for unsuspecting buyers who believe they’re getting the real deal. Spinels, garnets, tourmalines, and even colored glass can all be passed off as genuine ruby, but the savvy shopper may notice that these stones are softer, lighter, and often duller than the actual stone.
For those of you born in the month of July, rubies can be a great choice to show off who you are! Put all eyes on you with a pair of intricate earrings studded with ruby accent stones, or speak to the passion and uniqueness of your relationship with a ruby as the centerpiece for your one-of-a-kind engagement ring. With a jewel as stunning as this one, you can’t go wrong.