Rubies have long been admired for their stunning red hues and remarkable beauty. As one of the most sought-after gemstones in the world, it’s no wonder that fake rubies flood the market. Being able to distinguish between real and fake rubies is essential for gem enthusiasts and buyers. This article will delve into the characteristics that differentiate genuine rubies from their synthetic or imitative counterparts.
What is Ruby?
Ruby is a precious gemstone and a variety of the mineral corundum. It is composed of aluminum oxide with traces of chromium, which is responsible for its vibrant red color. Rubies are part of the corundum family, along with sapphires, which are also corundum crystals but can occur in various colors.
How are Rubies Formed?
Rubies are formed deep within the Earth’s crust under high pressure and temperature. This natural process takes millions of years to create the conditions necessary for the formation of rubies. As geological events push these gemstones closer to the surface, they become accessible for mining.
Identifying Real Rubies
The color of a ruby is its most important characteristic. Genuine rubies exhibit a rich, intense red color with a hint of blue. Known as “pigeon’s blood,” this color is highly valued in the gemstone market. However, rubies may come in various shades of red, and the presence of secondary hues does not necessarily indicate a fake.
Inclusions, or internal flaws, are common in natural rubies. Genuine rubies often have visible imperfections, but they should not obstruct the gem’s transparency or sparkle. Synthetic rubies or imitations may have fewer inclusions or none at all, so clarity alone is not enough to determine authenticity.
The cut of a ruby impacts its brilliance and overall appeal. Genuine rubies are typically faceted to maximize their luster and color. A poorly cut ruby may appear dull and lifeless, indicating a potential fake.
4.4 Carat Weight
The carat weight of a ruby influences its value. Larger rubies are rarer and more valuable. However, carat weight alone does not guarantee authenticity, as fake rubies can also be found in various sizes.
Common Fake Ruby Types
5.1 Synthetic Rubies
Synthetic rubies are lab-grown versions of real rubies. They have the same chemical composition and physical properties as natural rubies. To the naked eye, it can be challenging to differentiate between natural and synthetic rubies.
5.2 Glass Imitations
Glass imitations, also known as “paste” or “faux” rubies, are inexpensive substitutes for genuine rubies. They may have a similar appearance but lack the brilliance and durability of real rubies.
5.3 Composite Rubies
Composite rubies are assembled from multiple materials to imitate the appearance of real rubies. They often have a ruby-like veneer fused with other substances, making them less valuable than genuine rubies.
The Importance of Buying from Reputable Sources
When purchasing rubies or ruby jewelry, it is crucial to buy from reputable and trustworthy sources. Reputable jewelers provide certification and authentication, ensuring you get genuine gemstones.
How to Spot Fake Rubies
Several methods can help distinguish real rubies from fakes:
7.1 Visual Inspection
Inspect the ruby for any flaws or inconsistencies that are common in natural gemstones.
7.2 Hardness Test
Rubies are one of the hardest gemstones, scoring 9 on the Mohs scale. Fake rubies made from materials like glass will have a lower hardness level.
7.3 Refractive Index Test
Using a refractometer, you can measure how light bends through the ruby, providing clues to its authenticity.
7.4 Specific Gravity Test
The specific gravity of a ruby can be measured to identify its density and potential composition.
7.5 UV Light Test
Under ultraviolet light, genuine rubies may exhibit fluorescence, while fake ones may not.
7.6 Heat Conductivity Test
Rubies have high thermal conductivity, which can be tested using a probe.
7.7 Professional Certification
Consulting a gemologist or obtaining a professional certificate can confirm the ruby’s authenticity.
Caring for Your Ruby Jewelry
Proper care will keep your ruby jewelry looking stunning for years: