Together with diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds, blood-red rubies are among the world’s most precious gemstones. Every sparkling red gem will look like ruby to the average person’ eyes, which is why rubies are often confused with another red beauty, the semi-precious stone called garnet.
If you don’t want to pay for a ruby and walk out of a jewelry shop with a garnet on your finger, you’re at the right place.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look into the facts about rubies and garnets and show you how to tell the difference between the two.
Bottom Line: Rubies are lighter and pinker than garnets, which tend to have deeper, earthier reds. They’re also more prestigious, sought- after and durable. Garnets, however, are much more affordable and aren’t subject to enhancements or heat treatments.
What Are Rubies?
Ruby, the king of gemstones, tends to be one of the most expensive gems in terms of price per carat. It’s been highly sought after since ancient times.
- Composition: Ruby is mineral corundum. It’s the same mineral that forms sapphires, but rubies get their unique red color thanks to chromium, present during the stone’s formation. Interestingly, perfect rubies are exceptionally rare. When a stone is eye-clean with no inclusions or flaws, it’s highly likely that it’s not a genuine ruby.
- Color: The value of the ruby is determined by its color. The richer and deeper the color red, the more precious the ruby is. If only a trace of chromium mixes with corundum, the end result will be a gemstone with a pinkish hue, known as pink sapphire. However, the more chromium, the redder the color, making the pink sapphire a ruby.
- Locations: The finest rubies are called Burmese Rubies, which are mined inMyanmar. Other popular localities where the purest rubies are found include Australia, Africa, the USA, Thailand, and Brazil.
- Durability: These gemstones are incredibly resilient and strong. On the Mohs scale of hardness, they register 9, just slightly softer than diamonds.
- Attributes: Rubies are traditional gifts for marriage anniversaries, celebrating forty years of marriage. They are also the birthstones of July. Moreover, during medieval times, rubies were especially appreciated by the aristocracy. This one-of-a-kind gem was believed to possess special powers and was considered a symbol of beauty and wisdom.
What Are Garnets?
The word garnet comes from the Latin word granitum, meaning seed. Beautifully red pomegranate seeds served as an inspiration for this gemstone’s name due to their impeccable resemblance.
- Composition: Garnet is actually a group of minerals, coming in a wide array of colors, from deep red to vibrant green. Some of the most popular garnets include red pyrope garnet, pink rhodolite garnet, orange spessartite garnet, and green demantoid garnet.
- Color: Garnet comes in a range of red shades and can look exactly like ruby. However, it typically has other tones as well, including orange or earthy colors like brown.
- Durability: Garnet is a relatively durable gemstone that, if cared for properly, can last for decades. On the Mohs scale of hardness, it falls anywhere between 6.5 – 7.5, which is not highly durable, but sufficient for regular wear.
- Popularity: During the Victorian era, garnets were in their highest glory. They would usually come from the Eastern Europe area and were known as Bohemian Garnets. This gemstone was massively used for mourning jewelry, engagement rings, and many others.
- Locations: Nowadays, garnets are mainly mined in South Africa, Switzerland, Australia, Scotland, and China. Since the 15th century, garnet was considered the birthstone of January and is seen as a symbol of a lasting friendship, health, and peace.
How to Tell the Difference Between Ruby and Garnet
Ruby or garnet? Check here to see if you were right!
As we’ve already mentioned, rubies are often confused with red garnets, especially the vibrant red semi-precious garnets mined in Africa.
Although they might look similar, there’s a number of qualities that make them quite different. Ultimately, the surest way to tell the ruby’s authenticity is to take the stone to the licensed jeweler.
At home, you can tell the difference by observing these factors:
Factor #1. Color
Both gemstones have a beautiful red color. However, when it comes to their intensity and hue, there are several distinctions.
- Rubies generally have a deeper and more intense shade of red. Additionally, rubies lean towards a colder red undertone and can sometimes appear bluish or purple.
- In comparison, garnets are slightly pasty with a lighter red shade. Also, garnet’s red seems to have warmer hues, such as yellow or orange.
Factor #2. Light
Examining the spectrum of the stone is another way to determine whether you’re dealing with a ruby or a garnet.
Put your stone against a bright source of light and move it between your fingers until the light that passes through the gemstone forms a rainbow.
- Suppose the created spectrum or rainbow has predominantly green and yellow bands. In that case, the stone is most probably not a ruby but a garnet.
- Rubies absorb green and yellow hues due to their nature and makeup, and they wouldn’t reflect a full spectrum rainbow.
- Additionally, rubies are double reflective stones, while garnets are single reflective. This basically means that rubies will give off a double and slightly blurry rainbow. In comparison, garnets will reflect clear colors of a single spectrum.
Factor #3. Clarity
Another way to tell the difference is to test the gemstone’s clarity. While holding the stone against a light source, pay attention to little inclusions and flaws.
If the stone is completely clear, it’s probably a garnet as rubies are rarely perfect and without any fault. Red garnets are typically eye-clean and don’t contain any visible inclusions.
Factor #4. Rarity
Generally, fine blood-red rubies are scarce and extremely hard to find, especially the larger ones over one carat.
On the other hand, red variations of garnets can be found aplenty. Green garnets, in contrast, are very rare, and if you get a hold of a large red stone, you should inspect it, as it’s most likely a red garnet.
Factor #5. Value
The harder it is to stumble across a stone, the more valuable it becomes.
- Fine quality rubies are among the most valuable on the market, with prices ranging from $100 to $15,000 per carat.
- On the other side of the spectrum are red garnets that are found in abundance. These semi-precious stones vary in price, and the good-quality ones can cost anywhere between $15 to $3,000 per carat.
Regarding the price, garnets are definitely worth considering because you can get an insanely red and beautiful gemstone for just a fraction of the price compared to rubies.
Factor #6. Toughness
According to the Mohs scale of toughness, rubies are much more durable and resilient than garnets, measuring nine compared to the garnet’s 6.5 to 7.5.
However, you won’t be able to determine the toughness of a stone with a naked eye. To assess its hardness, you should ask a professional to help you.
Factor #7. Treatment
Heat treatment and glass filling are the most common treatments rubies go through. The former helps with their transparency, and the latter enhances their color.
It’s almost impossible to find a ruby that doesnt undergo any kind of treatment. If a stone is untreated it only adds to their price.
On the other hand, the majority of garnets on the market are 100% natural and untreated.
Ruby or Garnet – Which One is Better?
By Master Gold Craft. See this garnet ring here.
By Justin Jewelry Shop. See this ruby ring here.
It’s hard to answer this question as both gemstones have their pros and cons. If you’re looking for a more durable stone and if you’re someone who cares about tradition, then ruby is a stone for you.
However, this precious beauty can set you back a considerable amount of money.
Considering that both gems are birthstones and are usually bought as birthday presents, consider getting a much more affordable garnet as it won’t burn a hole in your pocket.
If you have a limited budget, garnet could be an ideal choice for you since it features a naturally beautiful and intense red color for a fraction of the price you would pay for a ruby.
Nevertheless, for more special occasions, such as engagements or weddings, you might want to trat yourself to a timeless ruby.
The bottom line is that it all comes down to personal taste, preference, budget, needs, and desires. But no matter which stone you decide to buy in the end, try to pick a top-quality gem regardless of their carat size.
Many people find it hard to tell the difference between these two stones at first glance because they are unquestionably very similar in appearance.
Even though both gems are gorgeous and have lots to offer, you shouldn’t pay a hefty price for a non-genuine ruby. For this reason, you should test the stone you bought and use the guideline we provided.
If, however, you’re still uncertain, take your stone to an expert and get it professionally examined.