What’s in A Ruby?

Prior to investigating the best way to purchase a natural ruby stone, I was under the impression that natural unadulterated rubies would be expensive but relatively easy to find.   To my surprise, it is very difficult to find a completely natural untreated ruby gemstone with few to little inclusions.

Unfortunately, it is still common practice for many vendors to lead consumers to believe that they are paying a premium to purchase an untouched natural stone for their jewellery. In fact most of the time, those very stones have undergone some form of treatment.  This practice in some cases is not intentional on the part of vendors, since they also have been lead to believe that the stones they are selling natural.  It takes special equipment that certified gemologists use to conclude the level of treatment if any that gems have undergone.  So, why does this matter to the client since treated stones can be just as beautiful as or more so than an original stone?  It has to do with clients simply understanding the product they have purchased.  For example if a consumer believes that the stone they purchased is untouched, and flawless, they would presume that to be the measure for which the stone holds a certain value.

One method rubies and many other gemstones are treated is by fusing the gems with glass.  This effect can provide additional lustre to the ruby. One should be aware, however that there may actually be more glass component than the actual ruby.  According to research by GIA labs, www.gia.edu/gia-news-research-nr41009 fusion by glass can be simply an adhesive method to closing major fissures.   The facts surrounding glass treatments may not be negative, as long as the price being paid is reflective of their value.

The more widely accepted treatment is infusing heat into the rubies which can enhance the colour and close existing fissures which provides for more of a “flawless” look to the gem.  http://www.professionaljeweler.com/archives/articles/1998/jul98/0798fys2.html.

So how does one decipher which type of treated stone holds more value?  Well, according to the Gemological Institute of America, “Rubies that have been diffused or that are glass filled are worth less than heated rubies”

The best practice for any jeweller is to educate their consumer so their customers understand the reason for the price and not make a purchase based under a false pretense of value.