With the advances in jewelry-making technologies and global exchange of ideas, today’s ruby lovers have more jewelry design options than ever before. The beauty and allure of the antique and vintage styles has caused a frequent wave of revivals, and modern manufacturing has made jewels far more affordable than before.
The way we wear jewelry is diversifying as well. More men are wearing jewelry as a part of their daily wardrobe, and we have developed many new jewelry fashions–including thumb rings, toe rings, and studs for body piercing. Since ruby jewelry is available in a range of styles and forms, we have assembled a group of modern designs to illustrate all the options we have in this diversity.
Earrings come in an ever-widening assortment of styles. The only limit to earring design is typically the weight; they cannot be too heavy to wear with some degree of comfort. Although this is sometimes debatable for fashion lovers. A great appeal of earrings is how they change with motion. Even the simplest earrings—studs—come alive with a turn of the head. Hoops, drop, and chandelier earrings move freely, causing rubies and other faceted gems to glitter as light catches them in different angles.
Earrings have been worn by both genders since the beginning of recorded history. Since the 1980s, even more conservative men have come to embrace this ancient fashion. Studs and other earring-like jewels are also used to decorate body piercings.
Stud earrings are usually considered the most straightforward style, but even simple studs require design choices. The main decision is choosing how the stones–including rubies–are set. Prong settings have a light and delicate appearance, and bezel settings look more substantial. Bezel settings also add to a gemstone’s apparent size, which can make them especially appealing for smaller stones. As always, then there is the choice of metal: yellow gold versus white gold, rose gold, or platinum.
Jackets add-on to enhance stud earrings. Design options are practically limitless. A pair of ruby jackets can add a hint of color to a set of neutral colored pearl or diamond studs.
Aside from studs, hoops are the simplest of earring styles and they can be set with colored stones such as rubies. Designs vary, but it’s helpful when they’re lightweight so they’re comfortable. Hoop earrings are incredibly versatile because they can be made in all different sizes and lengths, and use varying sizes of gemstones.
Drop earrings offer many options for using precious stones such as rubies as a showcase stone. These earrings typically have a section that sticks close to the ear, with one or more segments suspending down. Drop earrings have great movement, are wonderful at catching the light, and they can be made to be worn as casual or dressy.
Chandelier earrings build on the idea of the dangle or drop earring. Chandeliers are relatively long, large earrings that feature level upon level of small drops in a linked, open arrangement. This style of earring has been overwhelmingly popular for the last several years, but the design has been used for centuries.
Modern chandelier earrings have renewed an interest in briolette cuts, which were highly fashionable in Victorian and Edwardian jewelry. Chandelier earrings featuring ruby briolettes are especially lovely when worn on dressy occasions.
Rings continue to rank as the most popular type of jewelry in today’s market. They’re easy to wear, show off single stones in the best way, and their wearer can enjoy seeing them as easily as anyone else. They also hold a great deal of symbolic power. If you have an interest in amulets and talismans, birthstones, healing stones, religious stones, and spiritual stones, the ruby ring you choose can reflect many of your personal ideals and preferences.
Rings represent continuity, commitment, and loyalty. The engagement ring has spread throughout all cultures, making it the most prized item in many jewelry wardrobes. Rubies are a wonderful choice for an engagement ring because they are associated with love and passion.
Also, throughout North America, Europe, and East Asia, men are wearing more jewelry, so men’s rings are occupying more space in jewelers’ inventories. Contemporary men’s rings often feature bold geometry and clean, crisp lines, although some men are beginning to experiment with more elaborate designs as well.
For all of their advantages though, rings present a couple challenges to the wearer. Since we use our hands regularly, rings are more vulnerable to wear than most other articles of jewelry. Right-hand rings are especially susceptible since the majority of the population is right-handed, so these rings in particular must be able to withstand considerable wear.
Variations in ring styles and structure are too many to list in full, but we’ve included a few especially popular styles here:
The band is one of the oldest and simplest ring styles. Popular setting techniques for band rings include channel setting, bezel setting, and pavé setting, but there are many variations on the band ring. One of the best loved is the eternity band, which is completely encrusted with small, channel set stones. Stacking eternity bands in diamond, sapphire, emerald, and ruby is a very modern fashion.
Like the band ring, the solitaire is a simple, very classic style. The solitaire is meant to exhibit a single central stone of superb quality. In its purest form, the solitaire ring consists of a plain band supporting a center stone placed in a prong setting. In some more contemporary solitaire rings, the central stone is bezel set, which serves to increase the look of the size of the center stone. Another modern variation is the tension set ring, where the stone seems to float in midair.
The three-stone ring is a favorite among colored-stone lovers. In a three-stone ring, two well-matched accent stones are set on either side of a center stone, and rubies are often accentuated with diamonds.
Instead of a single centerpiece stone, cluster rings feature groupings of smaller stones, arranged in a pretty, artful pattern. Cluster rings can be set with multiples of a single type of gemstone or with an assortment of stones. Rubies are often combined with diamonds in cluster settings, but may also be accompanied by any number of other colored stones as well. Cluster rings often mix stones of different shapes, including rounds, ovals, and pears. Using smaller stones in clusters makes a generous display of gems more affordable, since several small stones will cost less than a single large stone.
The bombé ring is a variant of the cluster ring. It features a dome of small, closely set stones, with or without a prominent center stone. This ring style was popular during the 1920s and 1930s, and reemerged during the 1980s. Bombé rings garner lots of attention as a statement piece of jewelry, especially when set with dazzling stones such as rubies. Modern jewelers and the jewelry industry may reference these rings as cocktail rings instead of bombé.
Jewelry around the neck is often the largest and most conspicuous type of jewelry. Stones too large to wear comfortably in a ring or in earrings can be set as a necklace with little discomfort or impediment to movement. The terms “necklace” and “pendant” are often used interchangeably, but necklaces and pendants are in fact two distinct types of jewelry. A necklace is a piece of jewelry worn around the neck and there are many variations on design. A pendant is a jewel that is worn suspended from a necklace and it is much more limited in design.
A simple, single-stone pendant can be an effective way to show off a ruby, and can be worn for just about any occasion. The look of a single-stone pendant depends highly on the quality of the gemstone. A lively, well-cut stone with vivid color will always make the best impression. Small diamond accents will draw attention to the center stone and enhance the sparkle, if the right proportions are considered.
Pavé set ruby pendants offer an economical way to make a big splash using small stones. For a more elaborate effect, a ruby pendant can be adorned with a drop beneath it, which may be removable and set with gems of any kind. Diamonds and pearls work especially well when dangling beneath a ruby.
Ruby necklaces range from discreet and simple to visual and opulent. The design possibilities for ruby necklaces are almost limitless, but there are a number of common styles that are worth talking about. Necklaces are distinguished both by dimensions and construction.
A collar is a broad, often solid piece of jewelry that sits very close to the neck. A dog collar necklace is a wide strap of chains, pearls, or beads that snugly encircles the neck.
A choker is a flexible, single or multi-strand necklace that is looser and longer than a collar, hanging just at the hollow of the throat. Chokers are usually 14 – 16 inches long.
Princess length necklaces are 17-19 inches long and hang right below the hollow of the throat. This length is particularly versatile, making it very popular, and can be worn with a variety of necklines.
Most of the longer lengths refer to pearl strands or bead necklaces: matinee at 20-26 inches, opera at 27-34 inches, and rope at 36 inches or more.
A ruby necklace that includes two pendants of unequal length is called a lavalier , after Louise de Lavaliere, a mistress of the French King Louis XIV who apparently favored the style. The Art Deco sautoir is a long necklace, usually made of beads, which has a tassel or a pendant at the end.
Rubies can also appear in lariat style necklaces, where the two decorated ends of an open chain are tied, clipped, or otherwise fastened together and left to dangle side by side.
Ruby line necklaces feature single or multiple rows of stones that run all the way around the neck, sometimes arranged in graduated sequences. Graduated necklaces of faceted ruby beads or briolettes are now a fairly common style worn by many.
One of the most elaborate necklace styles is called the garland or bib, which drapes across the wearer’s chest and can hold many carats of rubies or other precious stones. Elaborate bib necklaces set with rubies, sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, and pearls are especially characteristic of the Mughal and Mughal revival styles. These types of necklaces are highly popular for formal events where one might wear an evening gown.
Bracelets, like rings, are subject to knocks and scrapes, so they’re best set with highly durable stones. Ruby bracelets are constructed in any number of ways, from simple strings of ruby beads to a series of complex metal links set with rubies and other precious stones.
Bangles and Cuffs
In terms of structure, the simplest bracelets are the cuff and the bangle. In its most basic form, a bangle is a metal hoop just wide enough for the hand to slip through. In order to fit over the hand, bangles must be larger in diameter than the wrist, which allows them to move when worn. The motion of a bangle on the wrist can highlight the brilliance of faceted gems, but it can also interfere with daily activities, including writing and eating. To allow for a closer fit, many bangles are hinged so that they can fit over the hand in the open position, yet remain relatively unmoving once closed on the wrist.
The cuff bracelet is a variation on the bangle. Like the hinged bangle, the cuff fits over the hand but hugs the wrist or higher up the arm. Cuffs and bangles are among the oldest bracelets known to be worn throughout history. Examples have been found in Egyptian tombs, and both types were worn in ancient Greece and Rome. Cuffs and bangles were also worn in ancient Africa, China, and India, where they remain highly fashionable today.
The most conspicuous of bead bracelets is the torsade , which consists of multiple strands of beads twisted together to form a sort of gemstone rope. Bead bracelets and torsades can be comfortable to wear, even when fitted closely to the wrist. One inconvenience of bead bracelets, especially the looser fitting ones, is that a strand may snag and break. As with pearls, the construction of ruby bead strands should feature knots between each bead to prevent all of them from spilling if the strand breaks.
Among link bracelets, the simplest is the line bracelet, which is no more than a single row of prong or bezel-set gemstones entwined around the wrist. Link bracelets set with colored stones were a specialty of French jewelers during the 1920s and 1930s, and many of these pieces are highly collectible now.
Clips, pins, and brooches were once extremely common accessories for men and women. Before the rise of buttons and zippers, they were the primary means of fastening garments. Only those with considerable rank and wealth could decorate their clips and pins with precious gemstones, so a ruby-clad fastener was a conspicuous status symbol.
As a means for displaying gems, clips, pins, and brooches offer specific advantages. They are not liable to experience hard wear or frequent impacts. Like earrings and necklaces, they can be worn near eye level for easy visibility. Perhaps most of all, they are one of the best ways to display especially large rubies or other stones. On the other hand, most clips, pins, and brooches pierce or crimp a garment, which makes some jewelry-lovers hesitant to wear them, especially on their best clothing.
Functional considerations keep most cufflinks relatively small. Like bracelets, they are subject to a considerable amount of impact during daily wear, and durable stones are most preferred for cufflinks. One common way of using rubies in cufflinks is to set them in invisible settings where no prongs, rails, or bezels are apparent.
Shirt studs are typically made in sets of four to six to coordinate with a matching set of cufflinks. Complete stud and cufflink sets in popular styles like Art Deco are favorites with sophisticated jewelry collectors, as are old sets by renowned designers such as Cartier, Buccellatti, and Fabergé.
Like pins, clips, and brooches, shirt studs and cufflinks were indispensable before the advent of buttons and zippers. But with their enduring role in formal menswear, they remain an important part of the jewelry market today. In fact, they are often the only pieces of jewelry that a man will own—aside from his wristwatch and wedding ring. And they remain one of the best ways for a man to be able to show his personality through jewelry choices.
With so many options in ruby jewelry, it’s important to understand the most important considerations when looking to purchase a ruby. Learn about those next in our Buying Tips.