Mineral Review

How to distinguish a real ruby ​​or not?

Many people who want to purchase precious stones and products with them are very distrustful of relatively low prices and, even more so, are afraid of overpaying a round sum for a fake. And it is right! In this article, I want to highlight the topic of purchasing rubies and share with you knowledge on how you can protect yourself from a purchase that does not meet your expectations. Imitations, synthetics and other troubles. It is very difficult for the average person to distinguish natural stone even from glass, and even more so from high-quality synthetics. Why am I writing about synthetics and not using the term “imitation”? Because imitation is a fake of something when other materials imitate the original in appearance. Synthetics, on the other hand, are not an imitation, because they are completely identical to the original and have the same chemical composition and physical properties. For example, an imitation ruby ​​could be glass. But, when compared externally with a natural mineral, it is clear that it has an unnaturally uniform rich color and a “cheap” shine. All the highlights of the edges will be the same shade (which is also typical for synthetics). Glass is much lighter and softer than ruby. Glass is still rarely passed off as large natural stones, but you need to be careful with small sprinkles! With a stone size of 1-2mm, it is difficult to determine its naturalness from a photo. In this case, you need to pay attention to whether the shades of the stones are different. Natural stones will not be exactly the same color and saturation. More often, other semi-precious stones, such as garnet and red tourmaline, are passed off as rubies. However, this is not always beneficial, because. High Quality red tourmaline, rare types of garnet, as well as natural ruby ​​spinel will cost more than glass-filled ruby ​​(there will be information about this type of refining of natural stones below). All of these stones have a lower hardness (on the Mohs scale) and different numerical indices of light refraction from ruby ​​(determined by a refractometer). Of course, it is impossible to determine all this from a photo, but, with a certain “observation,” it is possible to distinguish them from rubies by color, shine and inclusions. The photo below, for example, shows tourmaline rubellite (unlike ruby, it does not fluoresce) and garnet pyrope (can be confused with the brownish, iron-rich Thai ruby, but, unlike it, has a homogeneous structure). The situation is more complicated with synthetic ruby. In its composition and properties it is completely identical to natural stone. And if the synthetics of the “pre-Soviet” and “Soviet” periods are stones of ideal purity that are easy to identify by their price, because. natural rubies of similar quality cost thousands of dollars per carat (all pink and red rubies in jewelry from the times of the USSR are synthetic!), but modern synthetics will be more difficult to distinguish “by eye”. Modern methods of production and subsequent refining of rubies make it possible to create inclusions in the stone, which for many serve as an indicator of the naturalness of the stone. You can try to distinguish Chinese and Indian imitations, as well as modern synthetics with inclusions, from the photo if the seller provides you with it of good quality. Of course, the average person will not be able to distinguish flux inclusions in a synthetic ruby ​​from gas-liquid inclusions in a natural stone, even with a magnifying glass, let alone a photo. But some obvious signs are often immediately visible. Ruby is synthetic or imitation (often colored quartz) if: 1- all inclusions in the stone are of the same shape and color and are evenly distributed in the space of the stone 2- inclusions are clusters of transparent small bubbles in the form of waves, intertwined and reminiscent of puffs of smoke 3- the filler of the cracks of the stone is darker than its main color (in natural sapphires refined with glass filling, this is possible, in rubies – not, unless it is colorless corundum culling impregnated with dye). 4- the stone has ideal purity and rich color 5- all inclusions in the stone are of the same light color (when viewed through a magnifying glass, such inclusions will appear as small transparent bubbles), while the main color of the stone is uniform, without halftones. 6- the stone has internal cracks in the form of a large mesh Below you can see photos of such stones. Colored quartz or corundum. The accumulation of dye in the cracks is visible. Inclusions that look like waves or puffs of smoke White fluid inclusions in hydrothermally grown synthetic ruby There are no inclusions in the stone, all highlights of the stone are of the same shade Internal cracks in the form of a mesh (honeycomb) So what are they then, NATURAL rubies? And why are they so cheap? Is there some kind of catch? Rubies have four main quality indicators: color, clarity, weight, and cut quality. Unlike diamonds, color is the determining factor. Defect groups for rubies can easily be found on the Internet. But, if we are talking about buying a ruby, the price tag of which is “x” thousand rubles, and not dollars, then it is not worth delving into these indicators.. In addition to the characteristics of the stone listed above, its cost is greatly influenced by the method of its refining. Or rather, it doesn’t even affect, but divides it into three categories: 1- Rubies N – unrefined cut stones (rare, but can be found on the open market with low quality indicators) 2- Rubies H – stones refined by heat (stones are heated to high temperatures to enhance color, due to the dissolution of internal inclusions, and purity) 3- Rubies F – glass-filled rubies (stones that are initially pale and fractured are heated in a mass of glassy substances that seal the cracks and pores) So it is the third type of rubies that is found on store shelves in 99% of cases! And it is precisely such stones that can cost thousands and even hundreds of rubles, not dollars! It turns out that’s where the catch is! Stones are half glass, they are short-lived and fragile! – These exclamations can be seen on many websites and forums. Some “experts” claim that such a ruby ​​will fall apart even if you swim with it in sea water. But is everything so pessimistic? Let’s not believe unfounded statements, but let’s understand the physics of the process. Debunking myths and judgments. It is believed that rubies that are “annealed for color” do not contain any glassy substances in the cracks and pores. This is actually a false statement! Because all stones are annealed in a liquid flux and gas environment, the components of which can form glassy compounds, microdefects in the crystals are filled with this mass. Therefore, the division of rubies into “only heated” and “filled with glass” is very arbitrary and rather a marketing ploy. The question is the percentage of this “glass” in the stone. This is what determines the quality and cost of category F rubies. If there is a lot of “glass” in a ruby ​​(more correctly, lead oxide), then such stones have a high concentration of cracks and other defects, they are cloudy and do not have an internal shine. But if the stone is sufficiently transparent, the internal edges reflect light rays and the cracks are not noticeable to the naked eye, then such a ruby ​​is considered high quality in its category and is not inferior in appearance to H and even N rubies and its price will not be “budgetary”. Regarding strength, the process of healing cracks is irreversible. The stone will not crack, will not deteriorate from sea water, and will not fade in the sun. Unless, of course, you hit it with a hammer, throw it into the fire and pour acid on it, then it will delight you for many decades. I would like to note that when taking a bath, house cleaning and other activities that bring your jewelry into contact with an aggressive chemical environment, it is better to remove any jewelry, regardless of the type of stone enhancement. Now all that remains is to understand the inclusions in natural rubies in order to distinguish them from fakes Inclusions and microdefects in natural rubies. Natural rubies can be identified from photographs by the following characteristics: 1- the color in the space of natural stone is distributed unevenly due to microdefects 2- the inner edges of the stone, when light hits them, will have highlights of different color tones 3- defects in natural stones are heterogeneous and more often have a linear orientation, internal stresses are similar to brush strokes or fibers, but never form a continuous diamond-shaped lattice 4- the color of inclusions can be red (iron impurities), black (graphite), dark red, brown 5- inclusions can be in the form of streaks on the glass and fingerprints, but never in the form of white round bubbles. 6- the space of heated and glass-filled rubies looks like fruit jelly with many bubbles (bubbles are formed in the crack filler, they are always dark in color, matching the stone), flakes, zigzag cracks, clouds of “red cotton wool” 7- microdefects are imperfect and unevenly distributed inside the crystal Below are photos of natural stones with various types of enhancement Unrefined ruby ​​N with undissolved natural inclusions. Inhomogeneity of color is visible. Ruby N with zigzag internal crack Ruby N with parallel oriented internal cracks Ruby F. The photo shows bubbles of various shapes, flakes and “red cotton wool” Ruby F cabochon is of low quality, opaque. Parallel stripes of inclusions, flakes, and bubbles are visible. Ruby F. good quality. Minimum cracks and inclusions. Flakes and “red cotton wool” are visible Bright heated ruby ​​F. A network of microcracks is visible on the surface. Ruby classified as H. Heated with no signs of glass filling. The surface of such rubies is smooth, without a network of microcracks. In the article I did not touch on the topic of “star” rubies. They have now learned how to make a “star” in synthetic corundum. You need to be careful with stones with a rich, uniform color and a bright, perfectly even star. I hope the information presented will help you navigate the many available options for jewelry with rubies and protect you from buying fakes. A detailed article about the relatively new synthetic rubies is here. PS: I would like to add that the article does not pretend to be scientific and is not outright copywriting. The information is collected bit by bit and presented to improve the gemological literacy of the consumer. I will be very glad if my materials protect you from being deceived and buying a stone that does not meet the stated characteristics. Bookmark it by clicking on ❤️! A natural ruby ​​not only emphasizes the status and wealth of the owner, but also guarantees a positive magical influence on his life. Cufflinks with synthetic rubies, photo: Stanley Lewis Imitation, no matter how high-quality it is, is absolutely useless in this sense. When it comes to artificial stones, experts debate their ability to share energy.

How to determine the authenticity of a ruby

A synthetic analogue of a stone is not inferior to a natural one in beauty, attractiveness, and methods of use. And it costs much less. Imitation is simply deception of consumers. We’ll tell you how to distinguish a real ruby ​​from a fake. Synthetic ruby ​​crystal, photo: Stan Celestian

Check authenticity at home

To check the authenticity of a ruby, it is not necessary to contact the assay office. Ring with grown ruby, photo: Maroulina

Using a magnifying glass

  • The edges of the artificial stone look fuzzy and blurry.
  • If the bubbles in the body of the stone are red, the ruby ​​is real; transparent or absent – artificial.
  • Microcracks on synthetics are smooth and shiny; on the gem – zigzag.

A glass counterfeit can be easily detected; distinguishing a natural ruby ​​from an artificial one is more difficult.

With the help of light

Here’s how to tell a real ruby ​​from its synthetic counterpart using light.

Ring with synthetic rubies, photo: Theappraiserlady

  • In direct sunlight, a natural ruby ​​looks burgundy, while the color of the artificial stone fades.
  • In ultraviolet rays, the gem will still glow red, but the synthetic one will begin to glow orange.
  • When the stone is rotated in the light, purple tints may appear on the edges. This indicates the natural origin of the mineral. This is what samples of Burmese rubies called “pigeon blood” look like.

Under a magnifying glass, the effect of light on the stone will appear more clearly.

In liquids

In clean water, a reddish glow will emanate from a genuine ruby ​​through the glass walls of the vessel.

Earrings with synthetic rubies, photo: Modeste Parisienne

Dipped in milk, the gem will turn the white liquid pink. This is an optical effect: the bright color of the ruby, breaking through the polydisperse compound, creates the illusion of coloring. Synthetics and glass are not capable of this.

For strength, weight and heat

Being a super-hard mineral, ruby ​​can scratch glass and metal. Glass imitations are fragile, easily destroyed, and after exposure to them, chips and scratches remain.

Stylish ring with artificial ruby, photo: the justified sinner

The gem is noticeably heavier than a fake of similar weight.

It takes longer to heat up in your hands than the glass imitation.

How to distinguish a genuine ruby ​​from cheaper similar stones

Cheaper gems that resemble red corundum in appearance are sold under the guise of ruby: garnet, tourmaline, spinel.

Silver ring with synthetic ruby, photo: the justified sinner

There are several ways to distinguish a ruby ​​from a garnet.

  • The garnet has a weaker shine and does not glow. Rotate the stone in the sun or under an electric lamp. The shine of a ruby ​​is pronounced, similar to diamond, which cannot be said about a garnet.
  • The color of garnet is darker than ruby.
  • Garnet is magnetized, ruby ​​is not. Place the mineral on the scale and apply the magnet. The weight has decreased – in front of you is a pomegranate.

Tourmaline can be easily identified by turning on an ultraviolet lamp. The red or pink hue of the mineral will change to orange. UV rays will not distort the color of a ruby. Like garnet, tourmaline does not glow.

Stylish ring with faux ruby, photo: Michael Ott

Semi-precious red spinel is very similar to ruby. It is possible to distinguish between two gems only with the help of a refractometer and a dichroscope.

Ruby is characterized by dichroism – the optical effect of the appearance of a violet tint on red when the lighting changes. Other stones listed do not have this property.

The combination of dust from ruby ​​rocks and glass is difficult to identify. The appearance is practically no different from the original. You have to resort to the services of a gemologist, who will find out how much of the natural component is in the sample.

Bracelet with spinel imitating ruby, photo: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Lastly (and perhaps first and foremost) is the price. Natural ruby ​​is a gemstone of the first magnitude. The cost of a crystal weighing over a carat is equal to the cost of a diamond. A relatively low price is a sign of synthetics.

Imitation ruby

Composite stones are considered fake rubies. For example, a thin almandine plate is glued onto red glass. Examining the sample under a magnifying glass will reveal a bond line, or a change in luster visible from a certain viewing angle at the boundary between glass and garnet. Placing a sample in liquid will also help us find out if it is a fake. The doublet will give itself away as a straight line of connection.

You can distinguish a ruby ​​from glass under a magnifying glass or microscope by gas bubbles and color funnels.

Timothy artificial stones, photo: K Hamilton

Rhinestones have a single light refraction, and the refractive indices do not correspond to the refraction of the gemstone. But glass can be confused with garnet and spinel based on this indicator.

You can distinguish a real stone from a fake mechanically: by running a file over the stone. A visible mark will remain on the glass or plastic. But what about ruby?

Synthetic ruby

An artificially produced specimen is called hydrothermal ruby. Synthetic gems are grown from a mixture of chromium, iron and low-quality non-jewelry corundum in special devices under special conditions. The results are complete analogues of natural stones.

Synthetic ruby ​​crystal, Stan Celestian

An artificial ruby, like a natural one, leaves marks on the glass. The color of both is affected by the amount of chromium in the composition.

Synthetic ruby ​​is perfection. Under ideal conditions, a defect-free sample grows. The same cannot be said about natural stones, which have been formed for centuries in an unfavorable (compared to a scientific laboratory) environment. Therefore, they are characterized by certain disadvantages.

Silver ring with synthetic ruby, photo: Robert Wallis

Thanks to their correct, uniform structure, synthetic stones are easier to process, more convenient to cut, and flawless in appearance.

Soviet artificially grown ruby

The Soviet ruby, a high-quality synthetic stone, is still of particular value.

Refined rubies

To give a natural mineral greater transparency, enhance color, create or enhance optical effects, rubies are refined. For this use:

  • high temperature treatment;
  • surface diffusion;
  • filling cracks with dyes or a colorless substance;
  • foil linings;
  • irradiation.

Lab-cut ruby, photo: Phil Lagas Rivera

In most cases, rubies become more attractive after refining. Sometimes glass-like particles may appear or defects may expand.

Treated stones are natural, but are valued lower than untreated stones, closer to synthetic ones.

How to grow stone

Synthetic rubies are obtained in several ways.

  • The Vernel method is based on the melting of pre-mixed chromium and aluminum trioxide. Single crystals are obtained in the form of a cylinder up to 30 cm long and 2 cm in diameter.
  • When using the Czochralski method, crystals are pulled upward from the starting material (seed).
  • Zone smelting is the drawing of prepared raw materials along a heating element in a molybdenum container. Ruby in the form of plate-like crystals is formed when the alloy cools slowly.
  • Columnar-shaped crystals are obtained by skull melting using high-frequency energy sources.
  • In the hydrothermal method, fusible alumina and silica are mixed with chromium compounds, melted, and then placed in an autoclave.

Synthetically grown corundum, photo: Stan Celestian

All methods are labor-intensive and expensive.

How to grow a ruby ​​crystal at home

It is impossible to obtain a synthetic ruby ​​crystal without an autoclave, special chemicals and solid knowledge of chemistry and physics. But growing something similar to it is quite possible.

The easiest way is to buy a kit for growing crystals. Next do this:

  • pour the powder into a suitable container, pour boiling water over it, stir thoroughly;
  • after 2 hours, introduce the seed crystals, close the lid tightly;
  • After a day, replace the lid with paper, wait 3-4 weeks.

A block of grown ruby, photo: G Pearson

After this, observe with your own eyes how “ruby” crystals appear.

You can grow an imitation from sugar. Prepare 3 tbsp. sugar, food coloring of a suitable color, 200 ml of water. The algorithm of actions is as follows.

  • We dilute sugar with water and cook syrup.
  • Add the dye, stir until dissolved, and cool slightly.
  • We glue a crystal of granulated sugar to a thread, which, in turn, is tied to cardboard or a pencil to hold the structure at the desired height.
  • Place the crystal in the sugar syrup in the center of the glass.
  • Cover with paper and wait for crystallization.

Grown corundum, photo: Stan Celestian

In an extremely saturated solution, the sugar crystal will not dissolve, but will grow.

“Synthetic rubies” are grown from table salt in a similar way. You will need: 1 kg of salt, 400 ml of water, dye. We proceed like this:

Brooch with synthetic rubies, photo: Jenska

  • Fill a 0,5-liter glass container halfway with salt, add hot water, stir until completely dissolved;
  • gradually add salt, stir until the particles no longer disappear from sight;
  • add 5-7 packets of food coloring, stir;
  • filter the solution into another container;
  • we tie or glue a salt crystal to a thread, which we fasten to a pencil;
  • lower the crystal into the solution;
  • cover the jar with paper.

A red crystal resembling a gem will begin to form around the salt seed.

Such artificially grown rubies are used for their own needs and for sale, but not as jewelry, but as a souvenir.

Does an artificial mineral have healing and magical properties?

Natural ruby ​​is valued not only for its beauty, but also for its magical properties, including attracting wealth and good luck in love, helping to wisely lead people. The healing effect of the mineral is also high.

Another thing is imitation ruby. There is no magical energy in glass or plastic, in crystals grown from salt or sugar.

Synthetic ruby ​​pendant, photo: Dean Lagerwall

The properties of a composite ruby, that is, an alloy of glass and a real ruby ​​component, allow us to talk about its effect on the owner. However, this effect is less pronounced than the influence of a natural gem.

Artificial stone, that is, grown in laboratory conditions, has more modest healing and magical properties. Although disputes on this matter do not stop.

How much does 1 carat of real and synthetic ruby ​​cost in rubles in Russia

The price of a natural ruby ​​depends on the place of extraction, weight, size, shade, purity. There are almost no rubies without flaws. But some defects only increase the cost. For example, microcracks, due to which a six-pointed star can be seen inside the mineral. Synthetic star ruby ​​is also more expensive than samples without the asterism effect.

The cost of a ruby ​​depends on the processing. It is higher for stones with correct proportions, without stripes, grooves, or chips.

Faceted synthetic ruby, photo: James St

Refined (heated) crystals are valued at half the price.

The main characteristic for determining value is weight, measured in carats. But here, too, options are possible, because a large stone may have more flaws.

In Russia, precious stones are divided into categories, taking into account color and possible defects.

The highest quality, with pure color and minor defects and inclusions visible only on special equipment, are very rare and cost a lot of money.

Rubies of the 2nd category are also of good quality and color, but have tiny inclusions of other minerals, as well as cracks visible to the naked eye. The price is 35 – 40 thousand rubles. per carat These are the ones most often found on the shelves of reputable jewelry stores.

The 3rd category of stones includes specimens with serious defects: scratches, cracks along the entire surface of the edges, cloudy areas. The cost of 1 carat is 15 – 38 thousand rubles.

Imitation ruby ​​bracelet, photo: Joanne Chatt

To find out how much a synthetic ruby ​​costs, the cost of a real stone similar in color and weight is divided by 2. They are the ones that are most often found on sale.

On one of the sites, a ring with rubies weighing 4 carats is offered for 6300 rubles. There is also a ring with an unrefined ruby ​​with a total weight of 6 grams. costs almost 200 thousand rubles. On another, earrings with Burmese rubies can be purchased at prices starting from 1750 rubles. up to 90 thousand rubles.

Artificial ruby, Patricia Evans

Artificial and natural ruby ​​stones equally have the right to exist. The choice depends on preferences and financial capabilities. But the buyer must be sure that he is getting exactly what he expected.

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