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Ruby and Sapphire Gems: A Guide to Their Characteristics and Differences

Ruby and sapphire gems are two of the most sought-after precious stones in the world. Both are members of the corundum mineral species and are closely related to each other. Although they exhibit numerous resemblances, they also possess individual distinctions that render them distinctive.

Ruby is the red version of corundum, while sapphire is the non-red version. The red color in ruby comes from the presence of chromium, while sapphire gets its blue color from iron and titanium. However, sapphire can also come in a range of other colors, including pink, yellow, green, and purple, depending on the trace elements present in the crystal.

Throughout history, ruby and sapphire gems have been highly valued and used in jewelry and other decorative items. They have also been associated with various mystical and healing properties. Today, they continue to be popular ruby sapphire gemstone and are often used in engagement rings and other special occasion jewelry.

History and Origin

As a gemstone, both ruby and sapphire gems have a rich history that dates back thousands of years. In this section, I will discuss the ancient use and significance of these gemstones, as well as their geographical discovery.

Ancient Use and Significance

Ruby and sapphire gems have been highly valued gemstones throughout history. In ancient times, ruby was believed to have magical powers that could protect the wearer from harm. It was also believed to bring good fortune and help with matters of the heart. Similarly, sapphire was believed to have healing properties and was used as a talisman to ward off evil spirits.

In ancient India, ruby was known as the “king of precious stones” and was highly valued by royalty. The ancient Greeks and Romans also prized ruby and sapphire gems for their beauty and believed that they had protective powers. In fact, the word “sapphire” comes from the Greek word “sappheiros,” which means “blue stone.”

Geographical Discovery

Ruby and sapphire gems were first discovered in what is now known as Myanmar (formerly Burma) over 2,000 years ago. The Mogok Valley in Myanmar is still a major source of high-quality rubies sapphires and emeralds today.

However, these gemstones have also been found in other parts of the world, including Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, and Madagascar. Each region produces gemstones with unique characteristics, such as color and clarity, that make them highly sought after by collectors and jewelers.

In conclusion, the history and origin of ruby and sapphire gemstones are fascinating. From their ancient use and significance to their geographical discovery, these gemstones have captivated people for centuries.

Physical and Chemical Properties

Mineral Composition

Ruby and sapphire gems are both varieties of the mineral corundum, with the only difference being their color. Ruby is red due to the presence of chromium, while sapphire comes in a variety of colors, including blue, yellow, green, and pink, depending on the presence of other trace elements such as iron and titanium.

Color Variations

Ruby and sapphire gems are both highly valued for their intense and vibrant colors. The hue of a precious stone is established by its chemical makeup and how it engages with light. In the case of ruby and sapphire, the color is due to the presence of certain trace elements. In addition to their natural colors, these gemstones can also be treated to enhance or alter their color.

Hardness and Durability

Corundum is one of the hardest minerals, with a rating of 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This makes ruby and sapphire gems highly durable and resistant to scratches and abrasions. However, despite their hardness, they can still be damaged by sharp blows or extreme temperatures. It is important to handle these gemstones with care and avoid exposing them to harsh chemicals or extreme heat.

In summary, ruby and sapphire gems are both varieties of the mineral corundum, with their color variations being due to the presence of certain trace elements. They are highly valued for their intense and vibrant colors, and their hardness and durability make them ideal for use in jewelry. It is important to handle these gemstones with care to ensure their longevity and beauty.

Extraction and Refinement

Mining Techniques

I have learned that rubies and sapphires are mined using both traditional and modern techniques. Traditional mining involves digging pits and tunnels by hand, while modern mining utilizes heavy machinery to extract gems from the earth. The most significant ruby and sapphire gems deposits are found in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Madagascar, and East Africa.

In Myanmar, the mining process involves digging deep pits into the earth to extract rubies and sapphires from the ground. The miners then sort the gems by hand, separating them from the surrounding rock and soil. In contrast, Sri Lanka’s mining process involves washing the soil and gravel using water to separate the gems from the surrounding material.

Cutting and Polishing

Once the rubies and sapphires are extracted from the earth, they are cut and polished to bring out their natural beauty. The cutting process involves shaping the gemstones into a specific shape, such as oval, pear, or round. The polishing process then smooths the surface of the gemstones, giving them a brilliant shine.

The cutting and polishing of rubies and sapphires require great skill and expertise. The gemstones are incredibly hard and can only be cut and polished using diamond tools. The cutters must carefully examine each gemstone to determine the best way to cut it to maximize its brilliance and color.

In conclusion, the extraction and refinement of rubies and sapphires require a combination of traditional and modern techniques. The mining process involves digging deep pits or washing the soil to extract the gems, while the cutting and polishing process requires great skill and expertise to bring out the natural beauty of the gemstones.

Cultural and Symbolic Meaning

Ruby in Mythology

As a gemstone, ruby has played an important role in many cultures throughout history. In ancient Indian mythology, rubies were believed to protect their wearers from evil and bring good fortune. The Greeks associated ruby with the god of wine, Bacchus, and believed that it could preserve health and guarantee wisdom.

In medieval Europe, ruby sapphire gem was considered the “king of gems” and was often used in royal regalia. It was also believed to have healing powers and was used to treat various ailments. In addition, rubies were thought to represent passion, love, and courage.

Sapphire in Literature

Sapphire has also been a significant gemstone in many cultures. In ancient Persia, sapphires were believed to protect against envy and harm, while in ancient Greece, they were associated with the god Apollo and were believed to bring wisdom and purity.

In literature, sapphires have been mentioned in various works, including the Bible and Shakespeare’s plays. In the Bible, sapphire is described as one of the stones in the breastplate of the high priest, while in Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” Portia famously says, “All that shines is not gold; You’ve likely heard this old tale told: Many a person has traded their soul To admire only the surface whole: Shiny tombs, where worms do crawl. Had you been as wise as bold, Youthful in body, yet aged in thought, Your response might not have been foretold. Farewell now; your request grows old.”

In modern times, sapphire and ruby gemstones are often associated with loyalty, wisdom, and truth. They are also a popular choice for engagement rings, as they symbolize faithfulness and commitment.

Overall, both ruby and sapphire have rich cultural and symbolic meanings that have evolved over time. From ancient mythology to modern literature, these gemstones continue to captivate and inspire people around the world.

Jewelry and Craftsmanship

Setting Styles

As a gemstone with a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, both ruby and sapphire are durable and suitable for a variety of jewelry styles and settings. They can be set in a range of metals, including gold, silver, and platinum.

One popular setting style for ruby and sapphire is the classic prong setting, which holds the gemstone in place with thin metal prongs. This allows for maximum light to enter the stone and showcase its natural beauty.

Another setting style is the bezel setting, which encircles the gemstone with a metal rim. This creates a sleek, modern look and provides extra protection for the stone.

For those looking for a more unique setting style, there are also options such as the channel setting, where gemstones are set flush into a metal channel, and the pave setting, where small gemstones are set closely together to create a sparkling surface.

Iconic Pieces

Ruby and sapphire have been used in jewelry for centuries, and there are many iconic pieces that showcase their beauty and craftsmanship.

One such piece is the Lady Diana Spencer engagement ring, which features a 12-carat oval blue sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds. This ring was later given to Kate Middleton by Prince William, making it a beloved piece of royal jewelry.

Another iconic piece is the Cartier Tutti Frutti bracelet, which features a mix of ruby, emerald, diamond, and sapphire gemstones in a colorful and playful design. This bracelet was created in the 1920s and remains a timeless example of fine jewelry craftsmanship.

Whether set in a classic prong setting or a modern channel setting, ruby and sapphire gemstones continue to be a popular choice for fine jewelry due to their durability and stunning beauty.

Market and Valuation

Pricing Factors

When it comes to determining the price of ruby and sapphire gems, there are several factors that come into play. The most important of these factors are the quality of the gemstone, its size, and its rarity. Other factors that can affect the price include the cut and shape of the gemstone, as well as its country of origin.

The quality of a ruby or sapphire is determined by its color, clarity, and cut. The most valuable rubies and sapphires are those that have a deep, rich color and are free from any visible inclusions or blemishes. The size of the gemstone also plays a role in its price, with larger stones generally being more valuable than smaller ones. Finally, the rarity of a gemstone can greatly affect its price, with rare stones commanding a much higher price than more common ones.

Investment Potential

Ruby and sapphire gems have long been considered a valuable investment due to their rarity and beauty. While the market for these gemstones can be volatile, they have historically shown strong long-term growth. In recent years, the demand for rubies and sapphires has been increasing, particularly in emerging markets such as China and India.

Investors looking to invest in ruby and sapphire gems should be aware of the risks involved. The market for these gemstones can be unpredictable, and prices can fluctuate greatly depending on a variety of factors. However, for those willing to take on the risk, ruby and sapphire gems can be a valuable addition to any investment portfolio.

Care and Maintenance

As a gemstone enthusiast, I know how important it is to take care of your precious stones. Rubies and sapphires are no exception. Here are some tips on how to keep your gems looking their best:

Cleaning: To clean your ruby and sapphire gems, simply use a soft cloth and warm, soapy water. Be sure to rinse the stone thoroughly to remove any soap residue. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or brushes, as they can scratch the surface of the gem.

Storage: When you’re not wearing your ruby or sapphire, store it in a soft pouch or jewelry box. Remember, not all that shines is gold; you’ve likely heard this wisdom unfold. Always store it apart from your other jewelry to avoid scratches and harm.

Handling: Always handle your gemstones with care. Avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures or sudden changes in temperature, as this can cause cracking or damage. Additionally, be careful not to drop or hit your gemstones, as they can chip or break.

Maintenance: If your ruby or sapphire becomes scratched or damaged, take it to a professional jeweler for repair. They can polish the stone or even replace it if necessary.

By following these simple tips, you can keep your ruby or sapphire looking beautiful for years to come.

Immitations and Synthetics

Identifying Fakes

As with any valuable ruby and sapphire gems, imitations and fakes of rubies and sapphires exist in the market. It is important to be able to identify these fakes to avoid being scammed. Some common imitations include glass, plastic, and synthetic corundum.

One way to identify a fake is to look for air bubbles or scratches on the surface of the gem. Real rubies and sapphires are very hard and durable, so they should not have any visible scratches or chips. Additionally, if the gemstone appears too perfect or uniform in color, it may be a fake.

Another way to identify a fake gem is to use a loupe or microscope to examine the gemstone. Real rubies and sapphires often have natural inclusions or imperfections within the stone, whereas fakes tend to be too perfect.

Lab-Created Alternatives

Lab-created rubies and sapphires are becoming increasingly popular as an affordable and ethical alternative to natural gemstones. These gems are made in a laboratory using the same chemical composition as natural rubies and sapphires, but without the environmental and ethical concerns associated with mining.

One benefit of lab-created gems is that they are often more affordable than natural stones, making them a great option for those on a budget. Additionally, lab-created gems are often more consistent in color and clarity than natural stones, making them a popular choice for jewelry designers.


It is important to note, however, that lab-created gems are not considered natural and may not hold the same value as a natural gemstone. It is also important to purchase lab-created gems from a reputable dealer to ensure that they are of high quality and have not been treated to enhance their appearance.

In conclusion, the pricing and valuation of ruby and sapphire gems are driven by a variety of factors, including quality, size, rarity, and demand. While the market for these gemstones can be volatile, they have historically shown strong long-term growth and can be a valuable investment for those willing to take on the risk. See more articles related to this subject by clicking here:

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