Sunday, October 17, 2021

Ruby, the famous lady in red



By Richard Alan

Besides being one of my favorite gemstones the ruby is also the birthstone for those blessed to be born in the month of July.

The rubies originating from Thailand are perhaps the most recognizable of rubies although East Africa is more recently a source.

But the Burma ruby is coveted for its deep red color, clarity and overall magnificence. The color of ruby varies from bright “cherry red” to a soft bubbly pinkish color. I prefer what is called pigeon’s blood for the ideal color.

Dark red to the other end of the color spectrum, light pink. Some are even very purple which I consider undesirable. If you like those colors I suggest garnet or tourmaline or amethyst … I like my rubies blood red.

Also it’s a fact that too dark or too light is also next to worthless, especially if ridden with inclusions or imperfections and should never warrant high expense regardless of size.

Rarely does a month go by when I am not presented handfuls  of “precious gems” purchased by the naïve for large sums of cash only to inform the bargain hunters that what they have are, in fact, gems but basically worthless because of their lack of luster.

The gem should blow you away, so to speak, its beauty readily apparent. That’s what I look for.

Don’t be duped by T.V. gem shows or cruise ship bargains. Those are the “Dogs” the jewelry industry refused because of irregular sizes and shapes that make it difficult or impossible to find settings for them. They may be tempting but, trust me, the folks selling them to you bought them cheap and by the shovel full.

Back to the lady in red. In comparison, a fine three carat Burma will command a higher price per carat than a Thai counterpart and less for the east African. This is where it gets dicey. It’s next to impossible to analyze the gem to discover its source. So I have to trust the gem merchant I’m dealing with.

The source of smaller gems already set into jewelry can be difficult to identify because manufacturers buy from many dealers.

Rubies, like most gems, are in fact heat treated to enhance color and clarity. There has also been a rash of glass fusion treated gems that have raised an eyebrow or two on the  illegal “non-disclosure to buyers” use of this technique.

Quite simply glass is melted into cracks and flaws to “enhance” the gem that in effect cheapens its value and is hard to detect. Once again knowledge is the key here.

The ruby is the second hardest mineral on earth. Diamond is numero uno. So it wears well and resists scratches or chipping of the stone.

For centuries the gem has held mystical beliefs that the wearer of the gem would have an increase of health and wealth. It supposedly increased blood flow. If placed under your pillow at night it would ward off bad dreams, worn in battle you were invincible. As for its romantic principles it was said to make the wearer more passionate.

The ruby is in the top four for beauty and popularity because it is appealing to lady and gentleman and a truly fine gem will hold its value for years to come. Hail the beautiful red ruby!

A question was asked of me by way of cyber-space from Lisa, in Naples. “When cleaning my emerald ring I’m afraid I left the ring in the solution too long, my emerald now looks dull and lifeless, help!!  Lisa, the cleaning solution removed the oils in the gem, also never leave your jewelry in the cleaning solution for long periods of time it only does harm. Try soaking the gem in baby oil or light machine oil then wipe off excess, it should bring it back to normal…. Richard

“The price of wisdom is above rubies.”   unknown

Richard Alan, a designer/goldsmith and a purveyor of fine gemstones is the owner of The Harbor Goldsmith and Richard’s Reefs on Marco Island. He welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters” 239-394-9275 or harborgoldsmith@com

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