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Is Ruby a Hard Stone: Things You Need To Know

by Madonna

Ruby, the gemstone renowned for its vibrant red color and exquisite beauty, has captivated humanity for centuries. But beyond its aesthetic appeal, a fundamental question often arises in gemology and among enthusiasts: Is ruby a hard stone? In this article, we will delve into the world of rubies, exploring their physical properties, durability, and hardness, shedding light on what makes them such a treasured gem.

The Allure of Ruby

Before we examine ruby’s hardness, it’s essential to appreciate the allure of this gemstone. Ruby belongs to the corundum family, which includes sapphires, and it is known for its rich red hue. Its color can range from a bright, fiery red to a deep, velvety crimson, often associated with passion, love, and power. Ruby’s historical significance is vast, with mentions in ancient texts and a presence in royal jewelry throughout history.


See Also: Where Are Most Rubies Found: A Comprehensive Exploration


The Hardness Scale: Mohs and More

When assessing the hardness of minerals and gemstones, the Mohs scale is the most commonly referenced standard. Developed by German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs in 1812, this scale ranks minerals on a scale from 1 to 10 based on their ability to scratch one another. Diamonds, with their unmatched hardness, sit at the top of the scale with a rating of 10. Other common minerals like quartz rank at 7, while talc ranks at the lowest with a rating of 1.


Now, where does ruby fit into this scale? Ruby, like its sibling sapphire, ranks at 9 on the Mohs scale. This places it just below diamond and makes it one of the hardest naturally occurring substances on Earth. In practical terms, this means that rubies are exceptionally resistant to scratching and wear, making them well-suited for use in various types of jewelry.

Understanding Ruby’s Hardness

To grasp why ruby is so hard, it is essential to understand its chemical composition. Rubies are primarily composed of aluminum oxide, commonly known as corundum. The rich red color in rubies comes from trace amounts of chromium within the crystal lattice. This unique composition results in exceptional hardness and durability.

The hardness of rubies can be attributed to the strong chemical bonds within the crystal structure. The corundum crystals are arranged in a hexagonal close-packed lattice, which is inherently stable and resistant to external forces. This arrangement makes it difficult for atoms to move or be displaced, which is why rubies are resistant to scratching and abrasion.

In addition to their hardness, rubies also have excellent toughness, meaning they can withstand impact and pressure without breaking easily. This combination of hardness and toughness makes rubies a favored choice for jewelry, especially in settings where the gemstone is exposed and vulnerable to wear.

Practical Applications of Ruby

The exceptional hardness of rubies has practical implications for both jewelers and wearers. When set in rings, necklaces, bracelets, or other jewelry, rubies are less likely to get scratched or damaged during everyday wear. This makes them an excellent choice for engagement rings, which often receive continuous wear and may come into contact with various surfaces.

Furthermore, ruby’s hardness ensures that it maintains its luster and beauty over time. Unlike softer gemstones that may lose their brilliance due to abrasions and scratches, rubies are known for their enduring shine. With proper care and maintenance, a ruby can look as stunning decades later as it did when first acquired.

Identifying Genuine Rubies

Ruby’s hardness also plays a crucial role in gemstone identification. Gemologists often use a combination of physical and optical tests to confirm the authenticity of a ruby. One such test involves checking the stone’s hardness. A genuine ruby, with its Mohs rating of 9, should be able to scratch most common materials except for diamond.

Additionally, the refractive index, specific gravity, and other optical properties of ruby are key factors in identification. The presence of chromium is responsible for the red color in rubies, and the interaction of light with this element gives rubies their unique spectral signature.

However, it is important to note that synthetic rubies, often created in laboratories, can have the same physical and optical properties as natural rubies. Distinguishing between natural and synthetic rubies requires advanced testing equipment and expertise, making the process a challenge even for experienced gemologists.

Caring for Ruby Jewelry

To ensure the longevity of ruby jewelry, proper care and maintenance are essential. Despite their hardness, rubies can still be damaged if subjected to excessive force or sharp blows. Here are some tips for caring for your ruby jewelry:

1. Avoid Hard Impacts:

While rubies are hard, they can still be chipped or cracked if subjected to strong impacts. Remove your ruby jewelry when engaging in activities that may pose a risk, such as sports or heavy manual work.

2. Regular Cleaning:

Clean your ruby jewelry regularly with a mild soap and warm water solution. Use a soft brush to remove dirt and debris from the stone’s surface.

3. Avoid Harsh Chemicals:

Avoid exposing rubies to harsh chemicals, including household cleaners and chlorine, which can damage the stone and its setting.

See Also: Where to Buy Original Ruby Stone: What You Need To Know


In the world of gemstones, ruby stands out not only for its captivating red color but also for its remarkable hardness. With a Mohs rating of 9, ruby is one of the hardest naturally occurring minerals, making it highly resistant to scratching and wear. This hardness, combined with its toughness and enduring beauty, makes ruby a popular choice for jewelry that is meant to last a lifetime.

In conclusion, ruby’s hardness is not only a testament to its durability but also adds to its mystique, making it a gemstone cherished for its beauty and longevity. As we continue to explore the fascinating world of gemology, ruby remains a gem that both captivates and endures.

FAQs About Ruby

1. Is a ruby harder than a sapphire?

Both rubies and sapphires belong to the corundum family of gemstones and share the same hardness. They both rank at 9 on the Mohs scale, making them equally hard. The primary difference between them lies in their color, with rubies being red and sapphires coming in various colors, except red.

2. Can a ruby scratch glass?

Yes, a ruby can scratch glass. Since glass ranks at around 5.5 on the Mohs scale, which is significantly softer than a ruby’s hardness of 9, a ruby can easily scratch glass surfaces.

3. Can rubies chip or break despite their hardness?

While rubies are hard and resistant to many types of damage, they are not completely immune to chipping or breaking. Sharp blows or impacts can still cause damage to a ruby, so it’s advisable to handle ruby jewelry with care and avoid activities that may pose a risk to the gemstone.

4. Are synthetic rubies as hard as natural rubies?

Yes, synthetic rubies have the same physical properties as natural rubies, including their hardness. Both natural and synthetic rubies rank at 9 on the Mohs scale, making them equally hard. Distinguishing between natural and synthetic rubies typically requires advanced gemological testing.

5. Is there a difference in hardness between natural and treated rubies?

The treatment of rubies, such as heat treatment to enhance their color, does not significantly affect their hardness. Both natural and treated rubies maintain their hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs scale. However, the treatment may impact the stone’s value and transparency.


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