ALL THAT GLITTERS
July’s birthstone is the ruby, a red corundum. The most valuable color of a fine ruby is a deep blood red. The addition of the mineral chromium oxide is what gives it a superb deep hue. The word ruby in the ancient language of Indian Sanskrit is “ratna raj,” which means “King of Gems.” The word for ruby in Latin is “ruber.” Many other countries produce rubies, such as Afghanistan, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Thailand and even the U.S.A. to name a few. None of these are as spectacular or can hold a candle to the “Burma rubies.”
As you can see I am still an endless fountain of useless knowledge.
Onward Christian soldiers! Warriors wore the ruby for protection, courage and strength in battle and medieval Europeans wore the ruby to guarantee good health, wealth, wisdom and success in love.
Remember Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz? Those killer heels protected her from the evil witches.
Large important fine rubies demand thousands of dollars per carat and surprisingly can surpass the diamond on cost per carat, especially the coveted “Burma rubies” that hail from the Mogok mine north of what is known today as Myanmar (formally Burma).
The ruby is in the precious gem family, such as sapphire and emerald. (Sapphire is also corundum, and like the ruby a hard one to boot. It’s a 9 on the Moh’s scale; a diamond is a 10, emerald is in the beryl family and only 5 to 7.5 in hardness.)
Pink-colored rubies, although popular here in the U.S., are relatively inexpensive and are hawked regularly on T.V. shopping channels, so one should not pay big money for any of this, which is considered poorer quality to most jewelers.
I sold many rubies this past season; I can’t remember them being more popular. It could be my new source for nice rubies and the company’s prices were unusually reasonable, thus making them affordable to many.
Like many gemstones they are heat treated at the mine or a facility to enhance color. Modern technology can play havoc with jewelers nowadays, there are so many treatments available to make ugly ducklings into swans, so to say. Rubies can be resin or glass infused to improve their color and overall appearance – the only thing is that process greatly devalues the gem’s value.
I have knowingly purchased such “gems,” paid a low price for a fabulous looking two carat plus oval cut ruby, and give the customer an option between a $600 infused gem or a natural heat treated gem for $6,000. After I explain the process and the difference in price, I have sold both options to different folks. It’s next to impossible for a layman to distinguish the difference if you don’t have a trained eye and know what to look for.
I have seen more than once where a person paid tens of thousands for an infused gem that only appraised for a pittance.
This is where trust in your jeweler comes into play; you don’t want to pay 6K, or worse 60K, for an undisclosed inexpensive infused ruby!
Anyone seen my ruby studded boat shoes?
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit his informative website at www.harborgoldsmith.com.