How to Know if It Is a Genuine Ruby

Written by margot callahan
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How to Know if It Is a Genuine Ruby
Your ruby might be a lovely but less valuable imposter (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Rubies are red. Everyone knows this. But garnets, zircons, spinels, cut glass and synthetic rubies can also be red. You can tell whether the crimson rock in your ring or necklace is a genuine ruby or not in a few simple steps.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • magnifying glass or jeweller's loupe

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  1. 1

    Clean the stone gently with a damp soft cloth and let it dry.

  2. 2

    Examine the stone's general surface appearance without magnification. Note the shape and size. Fakes are generally large and have soft, rounded facet edges whereas genuine stones are smaller and have sharp, crisp facets. Also note the colour. True rubies are a deep rich crimson. Lighter colour stones are usually classified as sapphires.

  3. 3

    Continue to examine the surface and visible interior of the stone. Although genuine rubies can also have flaws -- sometimes even desirable ones -- lots of little surface scratches, streaks or bubbles within the stone are indicators that it might be glass or a synthetic.

  4. 4

    Hold the ruby in your hand. A genuine stone will have some weight to it because of the density of its chemical composition. A real ruby will warm to the touch much less quickly than glass or an inferior gemstone.

  5. 5

    Look closer at the stone using a jeweller's loupe or magnifying glass. You will be able to see from the quality of the flaws in the crystal structures within the stone whether it is glass or a less valuable gemstone. Gemologists call these flaws inclusions. In genuine rubies, these inclusions tend to be straight and angular.

Tips and warnings

  • For the final word on a gemstone's veracity and quality, you may need to visit a jeweller or gemologist. The Gemological Institute of American has an assessment service that can be accessed by consumers by mail or courier for a small fee. There are locations for dropping off or sending loose gemstones for verification in California and New York and around the world. The institute makes price lists and information about its procedures available on its website.
  • The real identification problem with rubies is with synthetic stones that are "grown" in a lab. Technically, by chemical composition, they are genuine. Only an expert would be able to determine whether a ruby is synthetic or "natural" by examining the stone microscopically and subjecting it to tests involving heat, the measuring of refractive light rays and fluorescence.
  • Rubies, like many gemstones, can be damaged. Tests using the glass and minerals often found in gem home testing kits can scratch, chip or stain your stone irreversibly. Use them with caution.

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