Rubies and red diamonds are tow of the rarest red gemstones in this world, and red diamonds aren’t even that well known ! Rubies on the other hand come with a lot of prestige and history, and nearly everyone has seen a real ruby, either in person or in photos. Red diamonds though ? Much rarer and more elusive.
So let’s compare rubies vs red diamonds, see their key differences, and you can decide which would be a better fit for you.
Ruby vs red diamond
Rubies are a brighter, more vivid red than red diamonds, and are much easier to get a hold of because red diamonds are the rarest diamond color possible. Because of this, red diamonds are also the most expensive diamond type, about 10 times more expensive than the most exquisite ruby (per carat). Both rubies and diamonds are tough gems, but red diamonds are tougher and have better clarity than rubies.
So in short, both rubies and red diamonds are very good red gemstones but red diamonds are simply better. However they’re so expensive the very sight of the price may make most people drop the idea. Let’s take a closer look at what each gem is, and them compare the two.
What is ruby ?
Rubies are a type of corundum with more chromium in them than other versions of corundum. It’s the chromium that makes rubies so deeply red. You’ll find that getting your hands on rubies is more difficult than finding sapphires, even if they are in the same family. Don’t be fooled into buying red spinel though, those were confused for rubies for centuries.
What is red diamond ?
Red diamond is a very special and rare kind of diamond. It is a fancy diamond, as all are diamonds with a vibrant color (like blue, green, yellow, etc) but it owes its red color to something other than inclusions. Fancy red diamonds appear red because the crystal lattice has been deformed in one way or another as the diamond was forming. This bends the light beam as it enters the crystal and makes it appear red (or pink, as pink diamonds have the same explanation).
Read also: Green Diamond VS Emerald
1. Red diamonds are clearer than rubies
Red diamonds are a very special kind of diamond, as they don’t necessarily sparkle as much as other fancy diamonds, but they are far clearer than any ruby.
Rubies (as a type of corundum) are often included with tiny particles of rutile, and this leads to a sort of cloudy or hazy appearance for most rubies. There are eye-clean rubies, yes, but those are pretty rare and are almost always the result of a heat treatment or bring out the red and improve clarity.
Red diamonds are far clearer by nature, but may still display a few inclusions in some specimens. An important point about this is that red diamonds, despite their higher clarity, don’t necessarily sparkle as much as other colorful diamonds (like blue or pink or yellow). This is because the crystal lattice is so warped the light travels at a very different angle and the rainbow doesn’t reflect as much as it does in other diamonds. Oh it still sparkles, but not as much as you’d expect a diamond to do.
2. Rubies have a deeper red color than red diamonds
Color is very important when discussing rubies and red diamonds, so let’s take a look at them. In their ideal form rubies have a deep red color, called pigeon’s blood. It has red-orange flashes and it’s very intense. Very few rubies manage this color. Instead most are a bit lighter and have a slight pink hue to them, and some go even lighter. A good ruby won’t flash purple or blue, otherwise it’s classed as a pink sapphire.
Now, red diamonds only occur in one color intensity: fancy. Red diamonds have a very intense red, in that it’s a very concentrated red, but perhaps less saturated when compared to a ruby. The red diamond will appear a tough grey or a bit drained of color when put next to a ruby.
So one way to tell these two apart is by looking at the color saturation. A red diamond, even a very good color one, will still be a bit duller in color compared to a ruby. Not pale, just less saturated.
3. Red diamonds are tougher than rubies
A key feature of diamonds is their toughness, the 10 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. But rubies are also tough, even if they are softer than red diamonds. Rubies (and sapphires) score a 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, which is still remarkable.
Still, if you’re ever worried about the longevity of your jewelry a red diamond will last longer than a ruby. Just remember that even so, rubies are still ridiculously tough.
4. Rubies are more affordable than red diamonds
Ah yes, price. Both rubies and red diamonds are the rare versions of their respective families and as such they are priced accordingly. But a ruby will always, always be much more affordable when compared to a red diamond. Let us explain.
A vivid red ruby with eye-clean clarity will sell for about $90,000 per carat, as a loose gemstone. This is still a very high price, but much easier to digest compared to red diamonds.
A red diamond with good clarity (VVS2-I1) and vivid color sells for $900,000 – $1,800,000 per carat. Higher clarity and better color fetch a higher price, but even more included red diamonds have a painful price tag. Compared to a pink diamond’s usual $200,000 per carat a red diamond is amazing.
So if you do intend to get a red diamond, be prepared to pay at least 10 times more than for a fine ruby.
5. Red diamonds are more rare than rubies
A key point of why red diamonds are so insanely expensive is because they are truly very, very rare and they are usually found in smaller sizes. Red diamond is usually 1 carat or less, and only very few of them have been found in a mine. Many red diamonds you see for sale are white diamonds that have been heat and pressure treated to bring out a red color.
Red diamonds are truly rare, and their price reflects that. Rubies on the other hand are also rare, the rarest corundum there is. But they’re much, much easier to find than a red diamond. So having bespoke jewelry is easier with rubies than it is with red diamonds, simply because they are easier to source. If you try to look around for pre-made red diamond jewelry you’ll realize it’s almost non-existent. You can still find loose red diamond though.
Can you use a ruby instead of a red diamond ?
A very fine, exquisite ruby isn’t going to replace a red diamond because the ruby has a deeper, more vivid red color than a red diamonds, and the red diamond is much clearer than any ruby. If you’d like a red diamond substitute you should try red moissanite. A red moissanite is a better options as it’s nearly as tough as a red diamond (9.5 on the Mohs scale) and it has very good clarity.
Are rubies or red diamonds better for engagement rings ?
Both rubies and red diamonds are great options for engagement rings. It depends on what you’d rather emphasize: a ruby’s amazing color, or the rarity of the gemstone you’re wearing ?
A ruby will catch the eye much more than a red diamond, and it will be instantly recognizable. A red diamond may appear a bit duller in color, but it is undoubtedly rare and a real treat to wear for the rest of time.
In terms of durability but rubies and red diamond will stand the test of time so do not worry about scratches or any hits the ring may take. Both gems will handle them very well.
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.