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Decoding the Mystery: Why are Rubies Red?

Decoding the Mystery: Why are Rubies Red?

Red is often associated with passion, love, and danger, and it is also the color of one of the most precious gemstones in the world: rubies. So what makes rubies so red? And why are they sometimes referred to as “pomegranates”? Let’s find out.

Before we find out, some background on Rubies 

For starters, rubies are one of the hardest gemstones, which makes them durable and perfect for everyday wear. They are also scratch resistant, so you don’t have to worry about them getting damaged easily. 

Ruby is the birthstone for July and the gem for the 15th and 40th anniversaries. Mogok, a town in northern Myanmar, is famous worldwide for its rubies. Burmese rubies are distinguished by their pure red color and translucent appearance. In Sanskrit, ruby is ratnaraj, which means “the king of gems”. In Thailand, the ruby is called tabtim, which means pomegranate, because the gem’s red color resembles the colored flesh of a pomegranate. 

In terms of color, rubies can vary from light pink to dark red. The most valuable rubies are the ones that are typically the darkest red. The ruby’s deep red color is often called Pigeon’s Blood. Rubies with this color are scarce and considered the most valuable.  

Chemical composition of rubies, and what makes them red. 

Rubies typically have a higher refractive index than other gemstones, meaning they have more incredible sparkle and fire. It is determined by the ruby’s chemical composition and crystal structure. 

Ruby is a variety of the mineral corundum or aluminum oxide. In its purest form, the mineral corundum is colorless. Some trace elements in rubies include iron, titanium, magnesium, and calcium. But none of them is responsible for the intense red color in rubies! 

So which is the trace element that makes rubies red? Aluminum and oxygen form the base of all rubies, and it’s the presence of chromium that give rubies their color! It ranges from an orangey red to a purplish tone. Some rubies are redder than others because they have a higher chromium content. The more chromium, the more intense the red color. The chemical makeup of a typical ruby is Al2O3•Cr.  

Ruby is one of the most popular gemstones for jewelry. 

Ruby is the second hardest gemstone after diamond. It is an excellent gemstone for all types of jewelry due to its durability, higher refractive index, and availability in many colors – from traditional red to pink, orange, and even blue. 

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Joseph Reoma

As the Managing Director of Elba Jewelry Design Center, my mission is to help you find your creative self in the design we make or the design you help us make for you.

Decoding the Mystery: Why are Rubies Red?

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