Ruby Gemstone Care and Repair

Ruby Gemstone Care and Repair

The category of “gemstones” covers a wide array of precious and semi-precious stones that have differing colors, hardness, density, porosity and many other properties. In this post we are going to cover rubies, one of the four precious gemstones, and what you can do to care for rubies and increase the longevity of your jewelry.

The Four Precious Gemstones Are:

  • Diamonds
  • Emeralds
  • Sapphires
  • Rubies

Natural Ruby Gemstones


Natural Ruby Gemstones

Rubies are one of the hardest minerals on Earth. They are composed of corundum crystals which rate a 9.0 out of 10.0 on the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness. The only mineral that is harder than a ruby is a diamond which is a 10.0 out of 10.0 on the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness. Rubies are known to have excellent toughness. Because of this, they work well in jewelry that will be worn often or put under stress like a ring. 

Rubies and sapphires are both composed of corundum crystals, but rubies are typically more valuable than sapphires according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). The difference between these two gemstones lies in the trace elements that affect color during crystal formation. Rubies contain a dominant amount of chromium that creates a gemstone color anywhere from a deep red or purple-red to light red. Pink sapphires also contain chromium, but the color pigmentation is lighter and creates a pink appearance due to a smaller concentration of chromium. There can be debate among gemologists of what pigment and hue moves a corundum crystal gemstone from being labeled a ruby to a sapphire. 

Natural Ruby Gemstone

There are different forms of treatment that rubies can undergo during processing. The most common is heat treatment that improves the red hue of a ruby while removing silk, a form of needle like inclusions. The removal of silk through heat treatment improves the clarity of a ruby and deepens the coloration. This treatment is permanent and should not affect the care and maintenance of your ruby jewelry.

Lattice diffusion is another form of treatment that some rubies receive. The Gemological Institute of America defines lattice diffusion as, “the penetration of certain elements into the atomic lattice of a gemstone during heat treatment, with the objective of changing or accentuating its color.” This treatment is considered permanent by the GIA and very difficult to detect, but there is no associated damage or vulnerability to the gemstone after it receives this treatment. The result from lattice diffusion is a stronger color in the gemstone. 

While less common than heat treatment and lattice diffusion, natural rubies may undergo fracture filling when they contain surface level inclusions or fractures. Ruby companies fill the inclusions with glass so the gemstones appear more transparent. This process can make rubies more prone to damage over time when compared to an untreated ruby. It is best practice to avoid excessive heat, hot water and soaking, and large changes in air pressure in order to maintain your fractured filled gemstones. 

Assume Your Rubies Are Fracture Filled If You Do Not Know

Natural Ruby Gemstones

A far more rare and unusual treatment is to dye ruby gemstones. This is done by introducing a dye agent to the surface of a gemstone where it is absorbed into the surface fractures. This is not a permanent treatment and the dye can fade or be stripped from the gemstone if it comes in contact with solvents like alcohol or acetone or prolonged periods of sunlight. A gemologist at your local jeweler will be able to tell you if your gem is dyed.

If you notice that your ruby jewelry is beginning to dull, it may be that there is a film of oil and dust covering your stone from everyday wear. It is best practice to use a mild, non-stripping soap when cleaning your ruby jewelry at home. Avoid harsh solvents, especially if you know your rubies have been dyed. It is possible to clean the film of oil and dust from your ruby without soaking your jewelry.

Instead, fill a bowl with lukewarm, soapy water and gently clean the gemstone with a soft cloth or soft toothbrush. Once the jewelry has been gently cleaned, submerge the jewelry in a clean bowl of lukewarm water to make sure all of the soap and residue are off of the jewelry. Finally, take a clean, dry microfiber cloth and dry the jewelry that is now free of all soap residue. Once it is dry, it is ready to be stored or worn. 

Natural Ruby Gemstones

This is the gentlest and most effective way to clean and maintain your ruby jewelry at home. Even with at home cleaning, we recommend you bring your ruby jewelry to a jeweler every 6-12 months for routine cleaning and inspection. These cleaning instructions work for both natural and lab created ruby jewelry.

Ruby jewelry should be stored separate from other jewelry. It is possible for rubies to be scratched from diamonds, sapphires and other rubies. It is also possible that your ruby jewelry could scratch or damage other gemstone jewelry like emeralds or pearls which are far less durable. Small plastic jewelry bags or soft fabric storage containers are good storage choices for your precious gemstone jewelry. 

**The information for this blog was obtained from the Gemological Institute of America. If you are interested in learning more about rubies, we recommend you look at their website as a resource.

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