HOW TO TELL IF A RUBY IS REAL
STEP ONE: CHECK THE RUBY'S HARDNESS
Real rubies are precious gemstones that rate a 9.0 on the Mohs scale, making them one of the world's hardest gemstones. In contrast, faux rubies are often red glass or tourmaline, which are much softer gems that are easily scratched.
THE RUBY SCRATCH TEST
Natural rubies are highly resistant to scratches, ranking at 9 on the Mohs scale and second in durability only to diamond and moissanite gems. A diamond stone ranks a 10 on the Mohs scale, while a moissanite stone ranks a 9.25, meaning that only a diamond (or an object with a hardness greater than a ruby) can scratch a genuine ruby; in comparison, glass (a common material in faux rubies) is a mere 5.5 on the hardness scale.
If you can scratch the surface of the ruby in question with your nails or any other sharp instrument that is not a diamond or moissanite, then you know it is a fake ruby gem. Only a gemstone with a higher hardness rating on the Mohs scale can scratch a real ruby gemstone.
THE RUB TEST:
COMMON RUBY IMITATIONS
- Tourmaline: These are crystal silicates whose hardness is rated 7.0-7.5 on the Mohs scale. The pinkish-red variety of this stone is frequently marketed as other gemstones, including genuine rubies, although it is considerably softer.
- Garnet: This is yet another variety of the same element, the mineral silicate. Garnet gems come in various hues, but the red variety of this stone is commonly passed off as genuine rubies.
RUBY VS. GARNET
Rubies are relatively more flawed and/or inclusion-ridden than clear garnets.
Rubies are a deeper and more distinct dark red, whereas garnet stones are lighter and paler.
Garnet, like tourmaline, is softer than a natural ruby, with a Mohs Scale rating is 6.5 to 7.5.
- Glass: Most fake rubies on the market consist of red-colored glass. These synthetic rubies are affordable but aren't exceptionally long-lasting. Additionally, genuine ruby stones typically have a higher refractive index than glass, meaning they sparkle and shine more.
- Composite Rubies: These are natural rubies with red-colored glass mixed in. Mixing these two materials creates a larger, fake stone at a lower price than a natural ruby gemstone.
The disadvantage of composite rubies is that these stones contain glass and are easily fractured and harmed by chemicals in housekeeping supplies.
STEP 2: CHECK THE RUBY'S COLOR
THE RICH COLOR TEST:
The color of your ruby stone is one of the best factors to look at first. An authentic ruby gemstone has a deep, rich hue. A ruby-red color so vivid that it looks bright, while fake rubies often appear light and dull as if there is no substance.
Use the "stoplight red" as a guide, but do not expect to find a real ruby jewel that is that bright. If you do, then the "natural ruby" is likely fake. However, an authentic ruby gemstone is more like a bright traffic light than a faux, dull stone.
If a gem is more of a dark shade, it is probably a garnet instead of an actual ruby. Garnets are a common substitute for real rubies.
THE GLASS TEST
Artificial rubies commonly consist of glass. To determine if you have artificial rubies, compare them to similar-tinted glass. For example, take a piece of red glass and compare it to the stone in question since no genuine ruby will ever be identical to the color or tint of a piece of glass.
STEP 3: FEEL THE RUBY'S WEIGHT
Fake rubies are often less dense than real ones. To tell if a ruby is real, you must weigh it and compare the weight to a similar-sized natural ruby. Fake stones are often lighter in weight than real ones.
STEP 4: A REAL RUBY IS PRICEY
The best indicator that you have a real ruby gem is its rarity. Most rubies on the market are synthetic rubies made in laboratories, so genuine rubies will always be rare and more valuable. If it's cheap, there's a good chance it is a fake one - or low-quality.
Natural rubies are costly. Lab-created rubies can be about 20% less expensive than natural ruby jewelry, while imitation rubies can be up to 90% cheaper.
In terms of size, it is tough to find natural rubies in large sizes. However, those stones that are the real deal and come in bigger sizes are extremely expensive. If rubies are quite large, there is a high probability that they are fake rubies.
STEP 5: INSPECT THE RUBY'S CLARITY
Buy a ten-power (10x) jeweler's loupe online and inspect your "ruby" under high magnification. You will be able to detect tiny flaws on the surface of a natural ruby under a microscope in a process called spectroscopy. These flaws usually aren't visible to the naked eye.
These are 'inclusions.' Natural rubies form as minerals deep in the earth; thus, genuine rubies always have flaws - sometimes a black spot, a line, or inclusions from foreign minerals.
In addition, real rubies have consistent clarity, and it is not a real ruby if the stone is not consistent throughout.
STEP 6: EXAMINE CUT RELATIVE TO SIZE
Most loose gemstones that are real rubies over ½ carat in size are usually cut into fancy shapes, such as a pear or cushion shape. A round shape in a large size clearly signals that it may be a false ruby.
STEP 7: NATURAL RUBIES COME WITH CERTIFICATION
If you're looking for natural rubies, be sure to check the certification. All reputable dealers will offer a certificate of authenticity with each ruby purchase. This document should include information on the 4 Cs of rubies: carat weight, color, clarity, and cut. It will also state whether the ruby has been treated in any way.
This last technique is the only foolproof way to check a natural ruby's authenticity. If the jeweler does not offer this documentation, the gemstone in question is likely a false ruby. When examining a potential ruby purchase, don't hesitate to ask questions. A reputable jeweler will be happy to answer them. And if you're still unsure, consult a gemologist or another expert before making your purchase.
Rubies, arguably the most beautiful gemstones, have many imitators on the market (such as garnet). By following the steps above, you can determine if you have natural or synthetic rubies. However, if you are still unsure, it's always best to bring your gemstone jewelry to a professional gemologist to get a definitive answer. Thanks for reading!