Rubies and diamonds are two of the world’s most prized and sought-after gemstones, but how do the two stones compare? I mean, if these two valuable stones were placed in front of you, would you be able to set them apart?
If you’ve got your eyes set on purchasing an enthralling engagement ring, you must understand the underlying differences between the two sparkling gems. Both of these vintage-inspired beauties have a candlelit glamor that looks delightful on everyone.
On the one hand, the ruby’s striking appearance makes it captivating, gem-quality corundum (aluminum oxide). And on the other hand, diamonds are so beloved that they’ve been nicknamed “a girl’s best friend”.
Today, I’d like you to take a moment off your busy schedule and read my side-by-side comparison of ruby vs. diamond. This will be useful if you’re planning to shop for your next jewelry.
What Is a Ruby?
First off, the name is derived from the Latin word “ruber,” which means red. Popularly known as the king of precious stones, the ruby is a lustrous, deep red stone that falls under the corundum family.
It is one of the traditional cardinal gems, together with diamond, sapphire, amethyst, and emerald. Sapphire is another variety of gem-quality corundum. It’s identical to ruby in every facet, save for color.
Technically, you’re OK to consider the ruby as a red sapphire. While there are translucent rubies of large sizes, those are rare to find these days. And if you eventually find them – by luck, maybe – they’ll probably cost an arm and a leg!
You’ll want to know that rubies have a special allure and historical significance. From ancient times to date, rubies have been used by many cultures to represent nobility, passion, and purity. So, they make a perfect gift for an occasion like Valentine’s Day!
And with their bright red hue (close to the color of human blood), rubies have always been favored by those in roles of power. They believe the stone protects the wearer from any evil forged against them. Meaning, it lends energy to the body, allowing you to conquer any negative entities and promote spiritual vitality.
What Is a Diamond?
To summarize this, I’d say diamond is an ancient Greek word “adámas” which means unbreakable, of if you want, invincible. It is one of the most useful rocks known to man.
While diamond is just a form of the carbon element – same as coal or graphite – it has the highest hardness and thermal conductivity of any natural material existing today. Also, diamond can disperse light of different colors (optical dispersion).
Know that in diamond, atoms are arranged in a crystal structure known as diamond cubic. Because of its three-dimensional molecular form, diamond is very rigid, unlike graphite which is chemically stable.
The arrangement of atoms in diamond makes it easy to let in a few impurities that contaminate the structure. Those impurities give diamond a relatively high optical dispersion: boron (blue), nitrogen (yellow), defects (brown), radiation exposure (green), etc.
Because of their ability to disperse light of varying colors, diamonds are a popular choice in jewelry, including rings or necklaces. According to Brain & Company, diamond sales were down by just 15% in 2020, despite lockdowns, travel restrictions and economic uncertainties brought by COVID. Diamonds look spectacular if you wear them alongside any type of metal: gold, silver, titanium, tungsten…
Beyond the jewelry industry, these gems are extremely handy when used to cut, drill, or grind other materials. Many cutting blades and drills you see today have small diamonds on their tips and edges. Which means these rocks are fit for industrial use, too.
Are Their Colors Similar?
Color is one of the most significant factors when assessing the value of a ruby. When measuring the color of a ruby, you’ll want to consider its hue, tone and saturation.
Pure rubies with the highest percentage of chromium (4% Cr203) will have a deep, vivid red color, often known as pigeon blood red in the trade. However, that doesn’t mean that rubies with other colors – like pink, orange, or brown-red – don’t look stunning.
Much like rubies, the value of diamonds is also measured by color. Sadly, though, diamond color actually means lack of color!
Pure diamonds are usually transparent and colorless. With every slight twist, such diamonds will reflect directional spotlights and shimmer in endless ways drawing attention to you.
You may have heard people say ‘fancy diamonds’, which is a marketing gimmick that means colored diamonds. Such diamonds contain interstitial impurities and structural defects leading to their coloration.
You’ll also meet brown diamonds in the market. They’re often sold as ‘cognac diamonds’ or ‘coca-cola diamonds – meaning diamonds that previously had little commercial value. ‘Black diamonds’ were previously only used as an abrasive material, and thus fall in this category.
If They’re Both Stones…Which Is Harder?
Like I said earlier, diamond is the hardest natural material in existence today. It tops off both the Mohs and the Vickers scales of substance hardness, with a hardness of 10.0.
Nonetheless, you mustn’t forget that diamond is also brittle. There’s an old saying among geologists that goes something along these lines:
Hit a diamond with a hammer, and it will shatter into a dozen pieces. Hit a piece of quarts with a hammer, and it will split in two. Hit a piece of jade with a hammer, it will ring like a bell!
This tells you that hardness is just a measure of how resistant a material is to scratching, not a measure of its brittleness and planes of cleavage.
So, even while diamond is 58X harder than corundum (the next hardest mineral on earth), it’s still vulnerable to breakages from direct blunt force.
On the scale used to gauge the hardness of a mineral, the ruby scores 9.0. Rubies are often sought after in the jewelry world due to their captivating color and incredible toughness. Moissanite falls somewhere in between ruby and diamond on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.
How About Their Cut Size? Any Difference?
Cut size refers to how the stone is faceted, from overall dimensions to symmetry and anything in between. Rubies are cut into various shapes, but unlike diamonds, the shape of the cut depends upon the formation of the stone. It has nothing to do with maximizing brilliance and fire.
When cutting rubies and sapphires, gem cutters aim to maximize light return, color, carat weight, and inclusions. That means a quality cut can help reveal the true glow of the ruby.
Usually, you’ll see rubies in non-round shapes, including oval, pear, cushion, and marquise cuts. Make sure you choose a shape that appeals to you personally.
Achieving the best cut for a diamond improves the stone’s beauty and value. You’ll need precise artistry and workmanship to fashion diamond such that it creates three most desirable visual effects:
- Brightness: How a diamond reflects both the internal and external white light
- Scintillation: How much sparkle a diamond emits, and what pattern of light the stone creates in dark areas
- Fire: How a diamond scatters white light and whether it forms all the rainbow colors
Ideally, professional jewelers can cut and polish diamonds into a plethora of shapes, from the classic horse heads to brilliant Christmas trees.
By far, the Round Brilliant cut is the most popular diamond cut. It has fifty-seven flawlessly aligned facets designed to bring the diamond’s brilliance to the forefront.
The cut emphasizes total internal reflection above all else. As a result, light travels through the stone to create optimum sparkle and scintillation. With this true classic engagement ring, it’s hard to go wrong – no matter which setting you are in!
What Is Their Average Cost?
Generally, rubies cost significantly less than diamonds. Still, high-quality rubies with exceptional natural color tend to command the same prices as those of diamonds – or even higher, don’t be surprised!
The natural ruby from Burma, which has a “blood pigeon” red color and a 1.5 carat weight, costs upward of $7000. Another expensive option is the red ruby, which goes for well over $50, 000. This also has a “blood pigeon” red hue with a 5.0 carat weight.
Lab-created round rubies cost under $1000 and are ideal for those looking for something affordable. Most of these rubies still fall in the corundum family, not to mention having a beautiful pinky-red tinge. You’ll also find that most lab-created rubies are 6.5 mm in diameter, equivalent to a 1.5 carat gem.
For the most part, natural and certified diamonds cost a whole lot of money. For example, a small diamond that is 2.88 mm in diameter will set you back at $8000 or more. This is a cheaper option with a pinky-red color and an orange undertone.
A GIA-certified, color-enhanced, fancy red diamond with slightly over a carat will sell at $20, 000 or more. Another color-enhanced, GIA-certified natural marquise diamond with 5.0 carats will cost you up to $70,000.
So…Which Is Best Engagement Ring?
To be honest with you, it’s hard for me to answer this question right out of the bat. Your preference and budget will determine the perfect engagement ring for you.
As loyal and beautiful as ever, diamonds cost a fortune and most of us can’t afford. If money is not a problem, why not dip your toes into the water and have this special gem in your jewelry box?
But if you’re a couple on a budget who prefers a more colorful look, rubies won’t disappoint. Thanks to their rich red color, these gemstones are fast taking the place of diamonds.
Superstars like Eva Longoria have widely encouraged the use of rubies as engagement rings. Besides, rubies are said to bring good luck, protection, courage, and love. Who wouldn’t want that?
So which gemstone would you rather go for? Please let us know in the comments section.