Rubies are one of the 5 ancient precious stones, along with diamonds, sapphires, amethysts, and emeralds. These are the deep red gemstones that many noblemen and kings fought over, and they were especially popular in Asia.
Like diamonds, rubies are pretty rare and if you’re looking to commission a piece of jewelry that will stand out from the crowd, you’re likely looking at rubies, alongside diamonds. If you find yourself at a loss for which gemstone to choose, take a look at this comparison guide.
Ruby vs diamond
Rubies are always red gemstones while diamonds are clear gemstones, so there is a strong difference in color. Because of their colors and refractive index, diamonds shine and sparkle much stronger than a ruby, while a ruby’s charm lies in its deep color. Any piece of jewelry made with a perfect diamond will be more expensive than one made with a perfect ruby, so this should be take into account.
Both rubies and diamonds are strong, hard gemstones though diamonds are definitely harder. They will resist scratching from anything except another diamond.
In short, aside from the obvious color differences between diamonds and rubies, you can work on a smaller budget if using rubies, but will have to rely on color rather than flash and sparkle for the wow factor.
Here’s a further breakdown of each key comparison so you can get a better understanding of each gemstone and how they’re different.
1. Diamonds are harder than rubies
Diamonds are the hardest gemstones on earth, and this means they rate a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. What does this mean for rubies ? Rubies rate a 9 on the same scale, and it means the only other things that can harm them are another ruby, a sapphire, or a diamond.
Both rubies are diamonds are strong gemstones and will last you a lifetime, especially if you’re looking at something like a ring that will be worn every day. A gemstone’s hardness is important to keep in mind, as a softer gemstone would scratch very easily and wear down in time.
2. Rubies are always red, diamonds are clear
There is a clear difference in color between rubies and diamonds. Rubies are a variety of corundum, that is only red corundum is considered ruby. Sapphires are blue, and other colors such as yellow or green or pink or white are usually classed as sapphires too.
Rubies are always red, a lighter or darker red but always a red. The best ruby has mild flashes of purple and has a deep, strong red color with eye clean clarity.
Diamonds are actually varying shades of yellow, with only the whitest and clearest being used for center stones. You can also find ‘fancy’ colored diamonds, that is diamonds that have a pink, green, blue, yellow or brown color but these are much rarer.
There are such things as red diamonds, but they are rarer than rubies in nature, so looking for one isn’t worth it, unless you have a bottomless pocket.
Read also: Is Plated Gold Real ?
3. Diamonds are more expensive than rubies
Diamonds are always more expensive than rubies, even if you compare the best 1 carat ruby with the best 1 carat diamond. This is due to the consumer preference for diamonds over other gemstones, and because a diamond’s sparkle and appeal is really difficult to compete with.
For example a 1.1 carat ruby from Mozambique, in the color pigeon blood, with no heat treatment or fillings, runs for $8,248 ! For comparison a Sri Lanka sapphire of the same quality and carat (1.1) runs for $5,568.
A white diamond of 1.1 carats, ideal cut and eye clean goes for $9782, as a loose stone. And as you know, with diamonds, the higher the carat the higher the price, sometimes tripling for each carat added. Many factors are taken into account when pricing a diamond, while a ruby only takes color and clarity into account.
4. Rubies are rarer than diamonds in nature
Despite diamonds being marketed as a rare beauty, they’re not as rare as rubies. Diamonds are rare in their own right, especially rarer than quartz, but not as rare as diamond companies have made them seem.
Still, a ruby, especially a vividly colored one, is harder to find in nature than a diamond that is acceptable for jewelry. This is the main reason for the steep price difference between rubies and sapphires. Rubies are twice the price of sapphires, simply because they happen much les in nature.
So if you’re into sporting a rare rock on your finger, you might want to go for a ruby ring, as that is harder to come by. Then again not many people know this, so it might be just for your personal satisfaction.
5. Diamonds have more fire, rubies have a stronger color
Finally, there is the sparkle vs color debate. This is probably something that has made your decision difficult, but let’s take a look. A diamond, being so perfectly clear and with such a high refractive index is going to shine and sparkle like mad. If it’s a larger diamond (like a 3 carat) it’s going to draw everyone’s attention. That’s just they way humans work, we’re drawn to sparkle and light shows.
Rubies have a strong, vivid red going for them, and this may sound dull in comparison to the sparkly diamond, But if you or whomever receives the ruby are a person who pays attention to detail, the color will definitely weight a lot.
A strong red ruby may not be as flashy as a diamond, but it will definitely draw attention.
Can you use rubies instead of diamonds ?
We don’t recommend using rubies instead of diamonds, simply because the difference in color is too great and you would get a very different-looking piece of jewelry. There are no white rubies, only white sapphires, and those do not shine as brightly as a diamond.
What you can do is use a combination of rubies and diamonds. Because a diamond used as a center stone will draw all the attention, you cannot put a sub-par diamond there. This means all the other surrounding diamond (if any) must be just as good, and this will drain your pockets fast.
But using a ruby as a center stone allows the surrounding diamonds (however many or few) to be of slightly lower quality, since they will not be compared to the ruby. The overall cost would be lower, in short. And you would get a jewelry piece that would look very beautiful with the contract between the red and the white.
If you set everything in yellow gold it would look even more impressive, as these three colors go very well together.
What color ruby is the best ?
The best looking ruby is called pigeon’s blood, and it’s a deep, vivid red with slight pink-purple flash. It’s the traditional color you think of when imagining a ruby, that perfect, highly saturated red.
Lighter color rubies are less expensive, and very dark rubies (with a brownish cast) are not as appreciated so these too will be cheaper. Light rubies may appear slightly pink in color.
I’m the main author for jewelrymaterialguide.com. I started this site after we did tons of research before our wedding and noticed that there is information about rings, jewelry, and so on that is really hard to find on the internet.