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Home Ruby Is it Worth it to Buy a Natural Ruby?

Is it Worth it to Buy a Natural Ruby?

by Madonna

Rubies have captivated human fascination for centuries with their vibrant red hues and reputed mystical properties. These precious stones are not only admired for their beauty but also for their rarity and durability. However, with the advent of synthetic and treated rubies, the decision to invest in a natural ruby has become more complex. This article explores whether it is worth it to buy a natural ruby, considering various factors such as authenticity, value, treatment, and market trends.

Understanding Natural Rubies

Definition and Origin

A natural ruby is a variety of the mineral corundum, which gets its red color from trace amounts of chromium. The most prized rubies are mined from regions like Myanmar (formerly Burma), Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Madagascar. The Mogok Valley in Myanmar is especially renowned for producing high-quality rubies with a deep, vibrant red known as “pigeon blood.”

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Formation and Rarity

Natural rubies are formed under extreme conditions of heat and pressure deep within the Earth’s crust. This process can take millions of years, making natural rubies rare and highly sought after. The rarity of a natural ruby, particularly those with exceptional color and clarity, significantly contributes to its value.

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Evaluating the Value of Natural Rubies

Color and Quality

The value of a natural ruby is primarily determined by its color, clarity, cut, and carat weight. The most valuable rubies exhibit a rich, vivid red color with a hint of blue, often described as “pigeon blood” red. Clarity is another important factor; while inclusions are common in natural rubies, fewer and less visible inclusions increase the stone’s value.

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Size and Carat Weight

Larger rubies are considerably rarer than smaller ones, making size a crucial factor in determining value. A ruby’s price per carat increases exponentially with its size. For example, a high-quality one-carat ruby is significantly less expensive per carat than a similar quality ruby weighing three carats.

Market Demand and Historical Significance

The demand for natural rubies remains strong in the jewelry market due to their historical significance and enduring allure. Throughout history, rubies have been associated with power, passion, and protection, making them a popular choice for royalty and the affluent. This cultural and historical significance continues to drive demand and elevate the value of natural rubies.

Natural vs. Synthetic Rubies

Synthetic Rubies

Synthetic rubies, also known as lab-created or man-made rubies, are produced in a controlled laboratory environment. They have the same chemical composition, crystal structure, and physical properties as natural rubies. While synthetic rubies are visually identical to their natural counterparts, they are less valuable due to their abundance and the ease of production.

Treated Rubies

Many natural rubies undergo treatments to enhance their color and clarity. Common treatments include heat treatment, which improves color and reduces inclusions, and fracture filling, which fills cracks with glass or resin. While treated rubies are more affordable than untreated ones, they are also less valuable.

Price Comparison

The price disparity between natural and synthetic or treated rubies is significant. Natural rubies, particularly untreated ones, command a premium price due to their rarity and desirability. In contrast, synthetic and treated rubies are more accessible and affordable, making them a popular choice for those seeking the beauty of a ruby without the high cost.

Authenticity and Certification

Importance of Certification

When purchasing a natural ruby, obtaining a certification from a reputable gemological laboratory is crucial. Certification provides assurance of the ruby’s authenticity, quality, and any treatments it may have undergone. Trusted gemological laboratories include the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the American Gemological Laboratories (AGL), and the Swiss Gemological Institute (SSEF).

Identifying Natural Rubies

Distinguishing a natural ruby from a synthetic or treated one requires expertise and advanced equipment. Natural rubies often exhibit inclusions, known as “silk,” which are fine needle-like inclusions of rutile. These inclusions can help gemologists identify a ruby’s natural origin. Additionally, natural rubies may show zoning or variations in color distribution, which are less common in synthetic stones.

Investment Potential

Long-Term Value

Natural rubies have proven to be a stable and appreciating investment over time. Their rarity, combined with increasing demand, contributes to their long-term value. High-quality natural rubies have historically shown consistent price appreciation, making them a valuable addition to an investment portfolio.

Market Trends

The market for natural rubies has seen steady growth, driven by increasing demand from emerging markets and affluent buyers. Auction houses regularly achieve record prices for exceptional rubies, reflecting their desirability and investment potential. For instance, the “Sunrise Ruby,” a 25.59-carat Burmese ruby, sold for over $30 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2015, setting a world record for a ruby.

Ethical Considerations

Mining Practices

The ethical implications of gemstone mining are increasingly important to consumers. Ethical sourcing and responsible mining practices are crucial to ensuring that the purchase of a natural ruby does not contribute to environmental degradation or human rights abuses. Reputable jewelers and gemstone dealers are committed to transparency and ethical sourcing.

Fair Trade and Certification

Consumers can support ethical practices by purchasing rubies that are certified as fair trade or ethically sourced. Certification programs, such as the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) and Fairtrade Gold, provide assurance that gemstones are mined and traded responsibly. Supporting ethical practices helps promote sustainability and fair labor conditions in the gemstone industry.

The Emotional and Symbolic Value

Cultural Significance

Rubies have held cultural and symbolic significance for centuries. In many cultures, rubies are believed to possess protective and healing properties. They are often associated with love, passion, and vitality, making them a popular choice for engagement rings and other meaningful jewelry pieces.

Personal Connection

The emotional value of a natural ruby can be significant for many buyers. Whether it represents a special occasion, a personal milestone, or a deep emotional connection, the sentimental value of a natural ruby adds to its overall worth. This personal connection often makes the purchase of a natural ruby more meaningful and rewarding.

See Also: Does Ruby Have Resale Value?

Practical Considerations

Durability and Care

Rubies are one of the hardest gemstones, second only to diamonds, with a rating of 9 on the Mohs hardness scale. This makes them suitable for everyday wear and ensures their longevity. However, rubies should still be cared for properly to maintain their beauty and value. Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures, and prolonged sunlight to prevent damage.

Resale Value

While natural rubies hold their value well, it is important to consider the potential resale value. High-quality natural rubies with certification and provenance are more likely to retain their value and appeal to future buyers. Establishing a relationship with a reputable jeweler or gemstone dealer can also facilitate future resale.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, while the allure of synthetic and treated rubies offers affordable alternatives, the unique beauty, rarity, and enduring value of natural rubies make them a compelling choice for those who appreciate the finer things in life. Whether for personal adornment or as an investment, a natural ruby remains a timeless treasure worth considering.

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