Thanks to their deep and rich red colour that stands out even among other stones, rubies have long been highly desirable to both jewellery makers and jewellery wearers alike. Modern ruby jewellery can trace its roots all the way back to the trade routes near China in 200 BC. Myanmar, long known for its high-quality rubies, has been producing these precious stones for nearly 1,500 years.
Given their attractiveness and appeal, rubies have always been a valuable gemstone, in some cases exceeding that of traditionally more expensive gemstones.
What Factors Determine a Ruby’s Value?
Anyone who has ever walked into a jewellery store and looked at a diamond knows that diamonds are valued based on the four C’s: colour, cut, clarity, and carat. Rubies are also judged on the four C’s, and while technically that should make grading them similar to the process of grading diamonds, this is a misconception.
The way rubies are graded in each of the C categories depends on different factors than those of diamonds. Therefore, don’t go assessing what a ruby engagement ring means or how much it’s worth the same way you would a diamond ring.
Ruby is by its very definition a red gemstone. This means that rubies whose colour is closest to a deep red are the most valuable. Where rubies are found heavily influences their colour thanks to wide variations in geology around the globe.
In fact, colour is so important to a ruby’s value that even rubies that are near-perfect in clarity and cut can be less valuable than a more red ruby that’s of lower clarity or inferior cut. Even larger rubies, which are quite rare, will be less valuable than smaller rubies if the smaller ruby’s colour is closer to what could be considered perfect.
Clarity is often the top consideration for those buying diamonds. This can lead inexperienced gem seekers to believe this is true for all gemstones.
Rubies defy this trend due to the fact that nearly every single ruby will have some inclusions—imperfections, in layman’s terms. Inclusion-free rubies are almost non-existent outside of a lab.
With this in mind, those responsible for grading rubies are typically willing to overlook even significant inclusions in a ruby so long as it is not severely detrimental to the overall look and clarity, and is not likely to cause a ruby to split or break easily.
In reality, a skilled ruby cutter can take a ruby with an inclusion and turn what would otherwise be a bug into a feature. The imperfection can be hidden using a complimentary cut to obscure the inclusion, or, conversely, certain types of ruby cuts can use an inclusion to increase a ruby’s value by causing it to scintillate and shine under the right conditions.
We won’t spend too much time here, as a ruby’s cut is a matter of personal preference and it will depend upon which inclusions need to be hidden or accentuated. All else being equal though, the wrong type of cut for a given ruby can significantly decrease its value. On the other hand, the best cuts will be given higher grades and therefore values.
Everyone knows that bigger means more valuable when it comes to gems, and this is generally true when speaking about rubies. That being said, because rubies are certain to contain inclusions, a larger ruby will invariably mean more inclusions. These inclusions may lower the value of the ruby, even if it is larger than its peers.
Don’t let that statement fool you into thinking that large rubies aren’t valuable though. Nearly flawless rubies above one carat are incredibly rare, so gem buyers can be sure that the largest stones will still almost always command the largest prices.
If you have experience shopping for diamonds, you may have some understanding about how to value a ruby. However, each stone is different, and with a little help from the experts at Holloway Diamonds, you can find the stone that’s perfect for you!