Rubies have been used in fine jewelry since ancient times. Rajas and royalty have adorned themselves with spectacular cabochons and cut stones evidence of which can be witnessed even now in the Crown jewels of many states. However you do not have to belong to royalty or peerage to own these beautiful gems. These stones can be bought by anyone who fancies these red beauties at retail or online. This article takes a look at all there is to know about the king of gemstones. And gives some tips as to how you can add these gems to your jewelry collection.
We have all heard lore about ruby and its desirability in advertisements, from friends, from your family jeweller or read about it. And one word is sure to have come up in all these discussions about rubies- Burma ruby.
What is a Burma ruby?
Originally the term Burma ruby referred to all rubies mined in Burma. Rubies from this locality had an exceptionally fine color (deep red with a tinge of blue, also known as pigeon’s blood red). However rubies are also mined in Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Greenland. Over time the trade came to address all rubies of a fine color as Burma ruby. Burmese rubies are of course valuable in their own right but this is not to say that rubies from these other localities are any less valuable or beautiful.
Ruby in India
For many years India has been the world’s biggest supplier of ruby cabochons and star rubies, of late facet grade stones are also reported to have been mined in certain localities. These localities include districts in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
So which is the ideal ruby? With gemstones it is very difficult to estimate value, since no universally accepted grading system exists for them unlike diamonds. The three basic criteria here are; color, clarity and carat.
Color: Rubies of a bright traffic signal red are the most desirable. Various variations of this shade are acceptable as long as they fall in the category ‘red’. Stones that are more pink rather than red are called pink sapphire and not ruby (ruby and sapphire belong to the same gem family ‘corundum’).
Clarity: Gemstones generally have some imperfections within them that are known as ‘inclusions’. The cleaner the gem the more expensive it is. However it is extremely rare to find a ruby completely free of inclusions. Look for a ruby which has minimal inclusions that do not take away from the beauty of the stone.
Carat: The heavier the stone the more expensive it is. Rubies of above 3 carats are extremely rare and command a huge premium.
Cut: Rubies are cut in many styles: faceted, cabochons (smooth-topped stones with flat bases), briolettes and ruby beads all make up an exciting array of scarlet glory.
Generally speaking, faceted stones are the most expensive followed by cabochons and then beads.
Owning a beautiful faceted ruby may be the heart’s desire of many of us but such a stone may be rare to find and expensive to boot. So how does one appease the gem lover in you? Ruby cabochons and beads may be the answer.
Ruby strands worn on their own or strung along with other beads make for great conversation-starters (Fig 1). Ruby bead necklaces using graduated beads worn either singly or in several layers too look rich (Fig 2). Many jewelry designers use ruby briolette beads to finish off plain gold necklaces with fringes or suspend heavy gold pendants from several ruby strands (Fig 3). Such necklaces, reminiscent of bygone eras in rustic eastern kingdoms can add a touch of mystery to any party outfit.
Where to buy them
Wholesale ruby beads are available online at many stores. These stores also offer opportunities for retail buyers to shop online. You can view their stock online and request for prices, some of them also display their prices online. Genuine ruby beads- whether they are faceted, roundels, drops or drum-shaped are always a style statement- no matter if they are Burmese rubies or not!