Home Ruby Is Honeycomb Ruby Natural?

Is Honeycomb Ruby Natural?

by Madonna

Rubies have captivated human fascination for centuries, with their deep red hue symbolizing passion, power, and wealth. Among the varieties of ruby gemstones, the honeycomb ruby stands out due to its unique and intriguing pattern that resembles a honeycomb. This article delves into the nature of honeycomb rubies, exploring their origin, characteristics, and the question of their natural versus synthetic status. We will embark on a journey through the geological processes that create these gems and the advancements in gemstone enhancement techniques.

Understanding Ruby Formation

To comprehend the nature of honeycomb rubies, it is essential first to understand how rubies are formed. Rubies are a variety of the mineral corundum, composed primarily of aluminum oxide (Al₂O₃). The red color of rubies is due to the presence of chromium impurities, which replace some of the aluminum atoms in the crystal lattice.


Geological Origins

Natural rubies are typically found in metamorphic rocks, formed under high temperature and pressure conditions. These conditions cause aluminum and oxygen to bond and form corundum crystals, with chromium contributing to the red coloration. Major sources of natural rubies include Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Madagascar. The unique conditions in each of these locations contribute to the distinctive characteristics of the rubies found there.


Honeycomb Ruby: A Unique Pattern

The honeycomb pattern in some rubies adds a layer of complexity to their formation story. This pattern consists of hexagonal or honeycomb-like inclusions within the gemstone, creating an intriguing visual effect.


Formation of the Honeycomb Pattern

The honeycomb pattern arises from the unique internal structure of the ruby. Inclusions are common in natural gemstones, and in the case of honeycomb rubies, these inclusions are arranged in a hexagonal pattern. These inclusions can be composed of various minerals, fluids, or gas bubbles that were trapped during the formation of the crystal. The precise arrangement and appearance of these inclusions give the stone its distinctive honeycomb look.

Natural vs. Synthetic Honeycomb Rubies

The question of whether honeycomb rubies are natural or synthetic is a common one among gem enthusiasts and buyers. To answer this, we must consider the processes used to create synthetic rubies and how they compare to natural formation.

Synthetic Ruby Production

Synthetic rubies are produced using several methods, the most common of which are the Verneuil (flame fusion) process, flux growth, and hydrothermal synthesis.

Verneuil Process: This method, developed in the early 20th century, involves melting aluminum oxide powder with a flame and allowing it to crystallize as it cools. The addition of chromium oxide creates the red color characteristic of rubies. This process can produce large, flawless crystals relatively quickly and cheaply.

Flux Growth: This method involves dissolving aluminum oxide and chromium oxide in a molten flux material, which then slowly cools and crystallizes over weeks or months. This process can create rubies that more closely resemble natural stones in terms of inclusions and crystal structure.

Hydrothermal Synthesis: This technique mimics natural formation by using high temperatures and pressures to dissolve aluminum and chromium compounds in water, which then crystallize as rubies. This method can produce very high-quality crystals, often indistinguishable from natural ones without advanced testing.

Identifying Natural Honeycomb Rubies

To determine whether a honeycomb ruby is natural or synthetic, gemologists use a variety of tests and observations. Here are some key factors they consider:


In natural rubies, inclusions are common and often complex, reflecting the chaotic conditions of natural formation. Honeycomb rubies have distinctive hexagonal patterns that are typically associated with natural growth. However, advanced synthetic methods can also replicate these patterns, making identification challenging.

Spectroscopy and Chemical Analysis

Advanced techniques such as Raman spectroscopy, infrared spectroscopy, and X-ray fluorescence can analyze the chemical composition and crystal structure of the ruby. Natural rubies often contain trace elements and impurities that are difficult to replicate in synthetic stones.

Growth Patterns

Natural rubies exhibit growth patterns that are indicative of their formation process. These patterns can be observed under magnification and often include zoning (variations in color and transparency) that synthetic processes may not replicate accurately.

Market Implications

The distinction between natural and synthetic honeycomb rubies has significant market implications. Natural rubies, especially those with unique patterns like the honeycomb, are typically more valuable due to their rarity and the intricacy of their formation process. Synthetic rubies, while often visually similar, do not hold the same value in the eyes of collectors and investors.

Pricing and Valuation

Natural honeycomb rubies can command high prices, especially if they come from renowned sources like Myanmar. Their value is further enhanced by factors such as size, color, clarity, and the distinctiveness of the honeycomb pattern. Synthetic rubies, despite being visually appealing, are generally priced lower due to their abundance and ease of production.

Ethical Considerations

The gemstone industry is increasingly concerned with ethical sourcing and environmental impact. Natural ruby mining can have significant environmental and social consequences, including habitat destruction, water pollution, and labor issues.

Sustainable Practices

Efforts are being made to ensure more sustainable and ethical mining practices. Certifications such as the Kimberley Process for diamonds and similar initiatives for colored gemstones aim to ensure that stones are sourced responsibly.

The Role of Synthetics

Synthetic rubies offer an alternative that can alleviate some of the environmental and ethical concerns associated with natural ruby mining. While they may lack the historical and geological allure of natural stones, they provide a more sustainable option for consumers who value these considerations.

See Also: 6 Benefits of Ruby Stone for Taurus


So, are honeycomb rubies natural? The answer is that they can be both. Natural honeycomb rubies are formed through complex geological processes and are prized for their unique inclusions and patterns. However, advances in synthetic ruby production have made it possible to create visually similar stones in the lab.

For gem enthusiasts and buyers, distinguishing between natural and synthetic honeycomb rubies requires careful examination and often expert analysis. The allure of natural stones, with their intricate formation stories and inherent rarity, remains strong. Yet, synthetic rubies present a compelling alternative, balancing beauty, affordability, and ethical considerations.

In the end, whether natural or synthetic, honeycomb rubies continue to fascinate and enchant, a testament to the enduring appeal of these remarkable gemstones.


You May Also Like


Giacoloredstones is a colored gem portal. The main columns are Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Tourmaline, Aquamarine, Tanzanite, Amethyst, Garnet, Turquoise, Knowledges, News, etc.【Contact us: [email protected]

© 2023 Copyright