The Ruby Buying Guide

A large part of my business is offering clients advice about Diamonds and Precious Gemstones and I wanted to create a post to help you make an informed decision when you are out looking for your perfect Ruby. All the information I give here has come from years of buying and selling Rubies as well as my time studying to be a gemmologist.

What is a Ruby?

It is always useful to understand a bit about a gemstone before you go and buy one, so here is a little bit of information about Rubies.

  • Rubies are part of the Corundum family and are the sister gemstone of Sapphire
  • The gorgeous red colour that Rubies are famous is caused by the element Chromium. While Chromium produces one of the most beautiful reds in the world, it can cause Rubies to be more prone to fracturing than other Sapphires. Rubies however are still far more durable than many other gemstones.
  • Rubies measure 9 on the Mohs hardness scale. This means that Rubies are more resistant to being chipped or scratched than nearly all other gemstones except for¬†Diamonds.
  • This combination of good durability and hardness means that Rubies are ideal for use in any type of jewellery and are a great alternative to diamonds for engagement rings.
  • Birthstone Month: July
  • Anniversary: 15th and 40th

A Ruby and Diamond Cluster Ring by Haywoods Jewellery

One thing I would always advise, is to go and see the Ruby in person.

In today’s society, a lot of people just order things online and hope that it is ok when the postman delivers it but when it comes to buying gemstones, especially expensive gemstones, I always advise people to go and have a look at the stone before you buy it. This is because it is very difficult to accurately depict a gemstone in a picture and it is happening more and more than companies are either having images re-touched to make the stones look better or using digitally created images. Every gemstone is unique and seeing the stone in person only makes the experience of buying it more enjoyable, also ask the seller to show you the stone under different lighting as LED lights manage to make nearly all gemstones look amazing. The truest light to view a gemstone under is daylight, this can either be natural daylight or using daylight balanced lighting as this give you a better idea of how the stone will look when you are wearing it. If you can you also want to acquire or borrow a 10x jewellers loupe, so that you can take a closer look at the stone.

Quality factors that affect the price of a Ruby


When buying a Ruby, it is always advisable to try and buy one that is as free from inclusions as possible. Freedom from inclusions not only adds to the beauty of the stone but also adds to the durability of the stone. Finding a ‘loupe clean’ Ruby can be difficult unless you are looking at the higher end of the market, as unlike Sapphires, Rubies generally have more inclusions. However a very nice ‘eye clean’ Ruby is still very desirable and it adds character to the stone.


When most people think of a Ruby, they usually picture a pigeon blood red stone. This rich, beautiful red is only found in a small number of stones, usually found in the Mogok region of Burma (Myanmar). Due to the rarity of these pigeon blood coloured Rubies, they are very expensive, especially if the colour is natural. The colour in Rubies can range from pinky reds to very dark red and a deep red colour is usually the most desirable as light stones with pinky hues can be hard to distinguish from a Pink Sapphire.


The most desirable of all Rubies have not been subjected to any treatments but they are very rare, especially if they have a nice colour. However, it is estimated that over 90% of the Rubies on sale have been heat treated and while not as desirable as untreated stones, they are industry accepted as the resulting colour is stable and permanent and it should not be looked at as a negative when buying stones.


The origin of a Ruby can have a big impact on the price of a Ruby. A Burmese Ruby will attract the highest premiums as it is the most desirable location. Very good quality stones are also come from Thailand. In my opinion the recent discoveries in Mozambique have produced some of the finest Rubies ever found, some of them on a par with the finest Burmese Rubies.

Lab Reports

A lab report from a reputable lab such as GIA or SSEF will add value to an Ruby if it states it is a natural and whether or not the stone has been treated. A report is especially important when a location or lack of treatment is specified by the seller.

Things to avoid

Glass Filled Stones

There are a lot of very low quality Rubies out there that have a combination of poor colour and heavily fractured and to improve the appearance and saleability of the stone, they fill the fractures with a high lead content glass. While the stone may look slightly better, it does not improve the stone as the glass is not a permanent treatment and can be removed. The treatment can also be quite evident due to the blue flash that the glass causes when the stone is rotated. My advice is to avoid these stones.

Synthetic Stones

While synthetic stones have their place in the market and in some cases can be preferable to lower quality stones in cheaper jewellery. If you are buying an expensive piece, then natural Rubies are the only choice.

But and this is a big but!¬†Always pick the Ruby that you like, don’t choose the one the sales person says is the best or that your friends, partner or parents like. Choose what appeals to you as it is going to be your Ruby not theirs. It might not be perfect on paper but it is perfect to you and that is all that matters at the the end of the day.

I hope this will help you when you are buying your Ruby, if you have any questions or have are looking for some advice then please get in touch and I will do my best to help.