Gemstone Education Center

Types Of Rubies

Although there are many gemstones with a rich red color, including garnets, spinel, opals, and diamonds; rubies are what come to mind when you think of a red gemstone. It is, though, one of the only red precious gemstones, as only diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are considered to be precious gemstones. Diamonds can be red, but red sapphires are actually rubies. They are the only color that received its very own name. Both sapphires and rubies are varieties of the mineral corundum. They rank 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness right after diamonds, which rank 10. In order to be considered a ruby and not a pink sapphire, a stone must boast a certain level of redness. In addition to a ruby’s hue, saturation, and tone, rubies can be categorized based on where they are from. Burmese, Thai, Tanzanian, Madagascar, and African rubies can differ significantly from one another. Let us take a look at some of the sources for rubies, the specific attributes of each type of ruby, and their possible shapes.


Origins of Rubies

Rubies that originate from Africa, particularly Mozambique and Kenya, generally give off a purplish or dark red color. Although the stones range in quality and size, it is important to emphasize that the dark red African rubies are preferred. Burma is another noteworthy source for rubies. ‘Burmese rubies’ is a term often heard in the world of gemstones. Burma, now Myanmar, produces rubies that are known for their deep red color. Thai rubies are considered second to Burmese rubies. These gemstones have a darker hue due to the presence of iron and chromium. Rubies that hail from Tanzania are said to have a color similar to the red coloring of a hessonite stone. Madagascar is yet another, and rather recent, contender in the ruby market. Depending on the mining region, Madagascar rubies can have a red, or red-orange hue. Lastly, rubies have been mined in Afghanistan for centuries. These stones range from light to deep red, and can be like no others on the planet.


2.02ct Burmese Ruby

2.55ct Madagascar Ruby

2.51ct Mozambique Ruby

3.17ct Thai Ruby

16.44 Red Tanzanian Spinel


Shapes of Rubies

A gemstone receives its shape based on the formation of the stone, and not according to one’s taste alone. While the round shape is ideal for colorless diamonds, cushion and radiant shapes are preferable for most fancy color diamonds. Although rubies are color gemstones, their structure differs from that of a diamond. For instance, a ruby holds much of its color at the base of the stone. Rubies can be cut into all shapes including asscher, princess, emerald, cushion, and radiant although round rubies, oval rubies, pear rubies, and marquise rubies are the most prevalent.


Examples of Ruby Stones

Fine rubies can be purchased already set in jewelry pieces or as loose stones. If you are in the market for a loose stone you may come across rubies described as a ‘Pigeon Blood Madagascar Round Ruby.’ This term refers to the type of color the ruby displays, which is a very vivid shade of red, and very desirable. Madagascar marks the origin of the stone and ‘round’ of course describes its shape. Similarly, you may find a Thailand oval ruby, a Mozambique pear ruby, or a Burmese marquise ruby.


The different varieties of rubies appeal to a mix of preferences and budgets. What is ideal for one is too bland for someone else and what is a great buy for a certain individual is out of bounds for many other consumers. Seeking out the right ruby takes time and patience; so make sure you do the work before making your decision.