Home Knowledges What Stone Looks Like a Ruby: All You Need To Know

What Stone Looks Like a Ruby: All You Need To Know

by Madonna

Rubies, with their mesmerizing deep red hue, have captivated human imagination for centuries. Often referred to as the “king of gems,” these precious stones are highly sought after for their beauty and rarity. However, not all red stones are rubies. In the vast world of gemology, several stones exhibit a striking resemblance to rubies, both in color and appearance. In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into the characteristics that make a stone look like a ruby, the potential substitutes, and how to distinguish between them.

The Allure of Rubies: A Brief Introduction

Rubies belong to the corundum family, and their vibrant red color is primarily attributed to the presence of chromium. This chemical element infuses the gem with a rich, intense red that has been synonymous with passion, power, and prosperity throughout history. Rubies are classified as one of the four precious gemstones, alongside diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires.


Characteristics of Rubies: A Spectrum of Red

The key to identifying a stone that looks like a ruby lies in understanding the distinct characteristics of genuine rubies. The color spectrum of rubies spans from a vivid, pure red to a slightly purplish or orangish red. The most valuable rubies display a strong, vibrant red with a hint of blue, often referred to as “pigeon’s blood” red.


In addition to color, rubies exhibit exceptional hardness, scoring 9 on the Mohs scale. This durability, coupled with their captivating color, makes rubies ideal for various jewelry applications, from engagement rings to exquisite necklaces.


See Also: How to Test Ruby Gemstones at Home: A Full Guide

Stones That Resemble Rubies: Navigating the Similarities

Several stones share similarities with rubies, making it essential for gem enthusiasts to discern between them. While some stones imitate the color, others mimic the appearance or visual appeal of rubies. Here, we explore some noteworthy contenders that may be mistaken for rubies.

1. Red Spinel: The Deceptive Beauty

Red spinel is often mistaken for ruby due to its strikingly similar color. With a range of red shades, including vivid crimson and pinkish-red, spinel can easily be confused with ruby, especially when set in jewelry. However, spinel lacks the fluorescence that is characteristic of rubies when exposed to ultraviolet light.

2. Garnet: A Red Mirage

Garnets, particularly the almandine variety, can resemble rubies, especially in their darker shades. While garnets possess a unique beauty of their own, their lower hardness compared to rubies (7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale) and different crystal structure help differentiate them from true rubies.

3. Tourmaline: A Spectrum of Reds

Tourmalines come in various colors, including red, and can sometimes be mistaken for rubies. Rubellite, a red variety of tourmaline, may share a similar hue with rubies, but its internal characteristics, such as pleochroism, can aid in distinguishing between the two.

4. Glass-Filled Rubies: The Enhancement Factor

In the market, some rubies undergo a treatment known as lead glass filling to improve their appearance. While this enhances the stone’s color and clarity, it’s essential to note that glass-filled rubies may have different durability and refractive index compared to natural rubies. Proper gemological testing is crucial to identify these enhancements.

Distinguishing Features: A Gemologist’s Guide

Gemologists employ a range of techniques to distinguish between rubies and their look-alikes. Understanding these distinguishing features is crucial for both enthusiasts and professionals in the jewelry industry.

1. Color Examination: Beyond the Surface

While the color red is a common factor, genuine rubies exhibit a depth and intensity that set them apart. Gemologists use precise color grading scales to evaluate the hue, saturation, and tone of red stones. Additionally, examining the stone’s color under various lighting conditions can reveal its true nature.

2. Refractive Index: Unveiling Optical Properties

The refractive index measures how much a gemstone bends light. Rubies have a distinctive refractive index, and gemologists use refractometers to determine this property. Deviations from the expected refractive index can indicate the presence of another gemstone.

3. Inclusions and Characteristics: Nature’s Fingerprints

Each gemstone carries unique inclusions, or internal characteristics, that act as its fingerprints. Inclusions in rubies, such as silk or needle-like rutile, can aid in their identification. Understanding these natural features is essential for distinguishing between natural rubies and their imitations.

4. Hardness Test: Assessing Durability

Rubies are among the hardest gemstones, surpassed only by diamonds. Conducting a hardness test using the Mohs scale can help eliminate softer stones from consideration. However, this test should be approached with caution, as it may not be foolproof for stones with similar hardness.

Cultural Significance and Historical Context

Throughout history, rubies have held immense cultural significance. From ancient civilizations to modern societies, these gems have adorned the crowns of kings and queens, symbolizing power, wealth, and passion. Understanding the historical context and cultural importance of rubies can provide additional insights into their allure and desirability.

Can rubies be stacked with garnets?

Stacking rubies with garnets in jewelry can create a visually appealing and vibrant combination. Both rubies and garnets belong to the same gemstone family, sharing similarities in color and, to some extent, appearance. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when stacking these gemstones:

1. Color Harmony:

Both rubies and garnets can be found in various shades of red, and when stacked together, their colors should harmonize well. Consider the specific hues of each stone to ensure a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing combination.

2. Gemstone Size and Cut:

The size and cut of the gemstones play a significant role in the overall appearance of the stacked jewelry. Balancing the size and cut of rubies and garnets ensures that the stones complement each other without one overpowering the other.

3. Setting Style:

The setting style of the jewelry piece influences how well rubies and garnets complement each other. Whether in a classic prong setting, bezel setting, or a more intricate design, the setting should enhance the beauty of both gemstones.

4. Consider the Mohs Hardness:

While both rubies and garnets are relatively durable gemstones, rubies have a higher hardness on the Mohs scale (9) compared to most garnets (7 to 7.5). When stacking these stones, be mindful of potential abrasions that can occur if the gemstones come into contact with each other.

5. Design Aesthetics:

Consider the overall design aesthetics and intention of the jewelry piece. Whether you’re creating a bold and contrasting look or aiming for a subtle and harmonious combination, the design should align with your vision for the jewelry.

6. Professional Guidance:

If you are uncertain about the compatibility of rubies and garnets in a specific jewelry design, it’s advisable to seek the guidance of a professional jeweler or gemologist. They can provide insights into the technical aspects of gemstone compatibility and offer recommendations based on your preferences.

7. Maintenance and Care:

Different gemstones may require specific care and cleaning routines. Ensure that you are aware of the recommended care practices for both rubies and garnets to maintain the longevity and brilliance of the stacked jewelry.

Stacking rubies with garnets is a creative and personalized approach to jewelry design. By paying attention to factors such as color harmony, gemstone size and cut, setting style, hardness, design aesthetics, and seeking professional advice when needed, you can achieve a stunning and well-balanced combination that reflects your unique style.

See Also: How to Wear Star Ruby: A Step-By-Step Guide

Conclusion: Navigating the World of Red Gemstones

In the realm of gemology, the quest to identify stones that resemble rubies is a fascinating journey that requires a keen eye and in-depth knowledge. As technology advances, new treatments and enhancements emerge, adding complexity to the task of gemstone identification.

By familiarizing oneself with the distinct characteristics of rubies, as well as the common substitutes, enthusiasts and professionals alike can navigate the world of red gemstones with confidence. Whether you’re an avid collector, a jewelry designer, or simply someone captivated by the beauty of gemstones, the ability to discern between a true ruby and its look-alikes adds a layer of appreciation for these timeless treasures.


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