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Buying Tips

What To Know Before Buying a Ruby

untreated mozambique oval ruby earrings
A pair of modern oval ruby drop earrings with Mozambique rubies of 1.60 cts. Finding a well-matched pair of rubies is essential for earrings.

Whether your ruby purchase will be a loose gemstone or a piece of ruby jewelry, there is critical information to know beforehand to make your purchase confidently. As with most purchases, establishing a budget to work within is the very first step toward making your decision. From there, all of the following information can be prioritized accordingly to find your perfect ruby.

Comparing Ruby Cuts

In the distant past, most rubies were fashioned into cabochons , long before faceting of stones was innovated.  This ancient cut features a curved upper surface with a flat or curved underside.  The upper portion of a cabochon may be a simple dome or a series of curved surfaces that meet in a pyramidal arrangement (e.g., a sugarloaf cabochon).  A cabochon may be any shape, but circles and ovals appear most often. Star rubies are cut into domed cabochons to display their special star phenomena.

pear shaped natural ruby gemstone
A pear-shaped natural and untreated ruby with lovely color.

The advent of improved gem cutting technologies enabled lapidaries to facet gemstones.  Facets are the flat, polished surfaces of finished gemstones. In the early days of gem cutting, many stones were table cut, which created a single polished face on the top of the stone.  

Larger rubies are rarely given brilliant cuts.  While the facets of a brilliant cut create a lively play of color, the geometry of the brilliant cut is a poor match for most ruby crystals because it creates a large amount of wasted rough.  The parallel arrangement of step cut facets allows cutters to adjust the finished stone’s proportions to the shape of the rough crystal.

ruby flower earrings
Smaller ruby gemstones can create beautiful clusters of color like in these flower earrings.

Step cut rubies may not sparkle like those with brilliant cuts, but in exchange, they offer broad, uninterrupted expanses of color.  Step cuts are usually reserved for highly transparent ruby rough with outstanding color. While the glitter of a brilliant cut can obscure unsightly inclusions, a step cut will only emphasize the shortcomings of a lesser stone. 

The most common ruby faceting style is actually the mixed cut, which combines a brilliant cut crown with a step cut pavilion .  An example of a mixed cut is the oval mixed cut. Mixed cuts offer significant advantages over brilliant cuts and step cuts. The crown of mixed cut gemstones is brilliant cut to maximize the brilliance and sparkle of the stone and to obscure minor clarity issues.  The pavilion of mixed cut stones is step cut to save weight and bring out the color of the gemstone.

Ruby Quality Questions

Since cut is so crucial to the quality of color displayed in your ruby, after you’ve made that decision, the rest start to fall into place on their own. What is always incredibly important to know about your ruby is if it has undergone any type of enhancing treatments. All companies are required to disclose all known treatments to the consumer, so be sure to ask.

asscher cut ruby engagement ring rendering
A four-angle CAD rendering of an asscher cut ruby engagement ring our designers create for each unique piece.

If purchasing a piece of jewelry, choice of metal for the entire setting can really be up to your personal preferences. Rubies are a wonderfully diverse gemstone that are capable of looking stunning in white gold, yellow gold, platinum, and rose gold. You really cannot go wrong, and mixing metals can produce a very unique piece.

lip shaped ruby gemstone
A fantastically unique ruby cut in the shape of lips with intricate faceting.

While rubies work very well with all other gemstones, they are showstoppers on their own, and solitary ruby rings make lovely pieces to add to any collection. Their characteristics of hardness and durability make them an exceptional gemstone choice for any piece of jewelry, especially rings. They live up to the wear and tear of daily use quite well. You will just want to occasionally inspect the security of the setting.

After purchasing a ruby or piece of ruby jewelry, the next step to consider is the proper care and protecting of the pieces. We cover that next with Caring for Ruby Jewelry.

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