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Ruby is a deep red colored gemstone only second in popularity for colored stones. Rubies, scientifically known as corundum, are a natural Gemstone mined from the Earth and derive their color from natural trace elements like Chromium. Rubies are typically mined from Madagascar, Nepal, Thailand and Australia. Rubies are most commonly used in jewelry, specifically in right hand rings and earrings. They are also very popular in the US as a July birthstone and for the 40th milestone anniversary. Rubies are best set in white and yellow gold because their color is brightened and accentuated. There are a variety of popular Ruby shapes, most notably round cut and oval cut. Rubies are unlike diamonds in that there is no grading standardization. The most important factors in determining the quality and price of a Ruby is it’s size, color and clarity, with color being the most critical factor in setting the grade.
Rubies are available in almost all shapes, however some shapes are most popular because they bring out the red color more vibrantly. Round rubies are most popular. They are commonly used in solitaire rings, earrings and as accent stones in wedding / right hand bands. The second most popular shape is the Oval Ruby. Oval rubies reduce rough wastage and draw out the deep red color and so cutters prefer the Oval shape. Other popular shapes include Emerald/Octagon and Heart shape (a red heart is of course a symbol of love and affection). In large sizes above 6mm or approximately 1.00ct, the cushion is is more common and popular. In smaller sizes below 4mm or approximately 0.30ct, the Princess/Square shape is popular. Round rubies tend to have the most sparkle because their faceting allows light to reflect and bounce a red sparkle back to the eye. Because of the light reflection, it is important to have more color in the round Ruby. Other fancy shapes are deport in cut and so the color is more relevant than the sparkle. Shape rarely affects the visibility of clarity inclusions in Rubies.
Rubies are often calibrated and cut to specific millimeter measurement requirements, based on the Ruby shape. Rubies should not be compared to diamond as they tend to be deeper in all shapes and so a Ruby’s carat weight will rarely ever match a diamond’s carat weight, if the measurements are the same. A 1.00ct Round Ruby is closer to 6mm; whereas a 1.00ct Round Diamond is about 6.4mm. A Gemstone manufacturer’s goal is to reduce rough wastage and to preserve carat weight. Therefore, Rubies are cut in different shapes and sizes. There is not standard uniform cutting practice in terms of the number of facets. It is imperative to understand the millimeter dimensions on the Ruby, rather than the carat weight. Like with all gemstones, the larger the Ruby, the rarer and more expensive. The prices change exponentially, not in a linear fashion.
The most important characteristic of a Ruby is its color. Color is judged by three main criteria: hue, tone and saturation. Hue is the physical color of the Ruby. Is it red, or pink or somewhere in between. Tone is the depth of color. Is it dark, light or again, in between. Saturation is the evenness and distribution of color. Is it an even color throughout or are there lighter or dark patches visible. Ruby color is ideally a rich, deep even and vivid red color. That doesn't mean a light or darker red Ruby is a bad thing - simply that the most valuable or expensive rubies have a “blood red” color. Rubies, and most other gemstones, are not graded with magnification. The reason is that the deep color is the priority and the color often masks inclusions, therefore magnification is not required. When examining color, place the Ruby face up, between 2 fingers or on a white surface and rock and tilt the Ruby to examine color from several angles. Your eyes and innate instincts are very good at judging color so you’ll very easily be able to determine the quality.
Rubies are graded on a scale unlike diamonds. The industry wide Ruby scale is below, along with the corresponding colors required to achieve that grade. Please note that the grading system for gemstones is quite arbitrary and laboratories do not assign a grade to the Ruby color. Because every Ruby is distinct and so different from one another, it is impossible to standardize the grading scale.
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