Q&A with Tammy Greig
Q. What family are Rubies from?
A. Rubies come from the Corundum gemstone family, which also includes Sapphire.
Q. How hard is a Ruby?
A. These gemstones rank at 9.0 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness - the next hardest gemstone after Diamond.
Q. Tell us more about the colour?
A. The finest colour Rubies come from Burma and are called Pidgeon Blood – this is a fire engine red, with no pink/orange/brown/purple tones.
Q. What is their spiritual meaning?
A. Rubies, which symbolise the base chakra, are considered the stone of love. They are often worn for good fortune, self-esteem, energy and intuition.
Q. Is it true that mechanical watch movements have Rubies inside?
A. Yes, watchmakers use man-made Rubies in a place where there is a lot of friction and movement (fly wheels, cogs etc.). The hardness of these stones mean there is minimal wear-and-tear.
Q. Where do they come from?
A. Most Rubies come from Asia (the best are from Burma), as well as from Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. There are new very big deposits in Mozambique, which are producing really good quality rubies.
Q. Do we get Rubies in South Africa?
A. Unfortunately, there are no significant deposits of Corundum in South Africa – the closest ones are in Mozambique and Central Africa (Tanzania & Kenya).
Q. What alternative red gemstones are there?
A. There is a stone called a Cape Ruby, which is actually a garnet, but much darker and does not have the same properties as Ruby.
There is also Red Spinel (which is very rare and fairly expensive), Rhodolite Garnet and Rubelite Tourmaline.
Q. Why are they so expensive, when they come from the same family as Sapphire?
A. Rubies are basically red Sapphires. Sapphires come in all colours (pink, yellow, green, purple, white, and blue – except red). Thus, when a Sapphire is red it is classified as a ruby. They are much rarer than other Sapphire colours and it is very unusual to find a large Ruby (over 2.00ct).
In addition to this, price is driven up due to the strength of the Chinese buying power - the Chinese demand is extremely high because red is their national colour.