February 22, 2019 4 min read

We talked in our last article about the rising popularity of non-diamond center stone engagement rings. The most popular engagement ring of this kind has been sapphire, due to the interest in rings like Kate Middleton's.

image of Kate Middleton's engagement ring

But now following closely behind interest in sapphire engagement rings is interesting in ruby engagement rings. And if you're going to choose a ruby engagement ring for your "I do" ring, there are a few things you should know.

1. Ruby Is In The Corundum Family (And That's A Good Thing)

When choosing a center stone for your engagement ring, there is more to it than just choosing a stone that's beautiful. With engagement rings in particular (a piece of jewelry that most people wear all day, every day), it's also incredibly important to think about durability.

Take a look at this scale from the Gemological Institute of America:

image of gemstone hardness scale

What you'll notice is that diamond is by far the hardest gemstone you can choose for your engagement ring. This is a big part of why diamond became to dominant choice for engagement rings in the first place. Not only is it stunningly beautiful when cut well, but it's durable enough to withstand everyday wear.

In second place is the mineral Corundum,which is the mineral family that includes both sapphire and ruby. Said differently: We call blue corundum "sapphire," and red corundum "ruby."

This means that when you're considering a non-diamond center stone for your engagement ring, gemstones from the corundum family are your next best choice, and make a ruby engagement in particular a great choice (much better than emerald, for example).

2. Rubies Aren't Necessarily a "More Humanitarian" Choice

Some people we talk to are interested in ruby engagement rings because they are trying to avoid the issue of buying a "blood diamond."

But if you do some reading, some of the most beautiful rubies in the world come from Myanmar, which is infamous for similar kinds of violence and oppression seen in Africa around the diamond trade.

Here's the reality: As long as precious metals and gemstones are perceived as valuable (which has been nearly all of human history, they're not going anywhere), there are going to be bad people who take advantage of that to fund wars and oppress people living in poverty.

There is no one gemstone that "causes" these atrocities, because they don't "cause" them. People use the valuables they have at hand to fund the goals they want to achieve... For better and worse. This has happened in various countries throughout history with various different gemstones, minerals, and precious metals.

Having said that, what many people don't see, and what the news never talks about, is the tremendous good that the jewelry industry does for local communities as well.

In most situations, the diamond trade directly contributes to building infrastructure, providing healthcare and education, and developing the economic strength of otherwise impoverished areas.

The president of Botswana himself said:

"For our people, every diamond purchase represents food on the table; better living conditions; better healthcare; safe drinking water; more roads to connect our remote communities and much more."

Read more about the positive impact the diamond industry has on local communities here:


The bottom line is that conflict diamond trade has virtually been eliminated. Governments and jewelry industry organizations have come together to implement systems that have made it difficult, or nearly impossible, to put diamonds from conflict sources into the global economy.

All this to say: Rubies are sapphires are currently going through the beginnings of a similar period of regulation and humanitarian awareness, but are not yet as closely regulated as the diamond trade.

So if your motivation for buying a ruby engagement ring is that it's "more humanitarian," be very careful with that assumption.

So how do you buy a ruby with confidence and clean conscience?

Some people want a magic easy answer to this, but the truth is that your best bet is to work with a jeweler you trust who can verify not only the quality and value of the ruby you're buying, but also its origin.

3. Rubies Can Be More Expensive Than Diamonds

Many people come to sapphire and ruby engagement rings thinking they'll save a buck by choosing a non-diamond center stone. But the truth is that high quality sapphires and rubies can often be more expensive than diamonds.

image of rubies

Image from Gemological Institute of America

Of course, price can vary widely depending on things like color, size, and clarity of the gemstones. But if you want, like most people do, that classic deep ruby red, and a stone that's free of visible-to-the-eye inclusions, rubies can be on the top end of the price spectrum.

There are also other factors that can dictate price, like whether the ruby has been heat treated or is in its completely natural state.

Again, the best way to get a ruby that meets your needs and your budget is to work with a jeweler you trust who can show you a variety of ruby qualities to find the one you like.

But the main take away here is that if you're coming to ruby expecting to save money over choosing diamond, don't be surprised if that assumption gets thrown out the window the first time you go shopping.

Ruby Engagement Rings | Wrap Up

If you're considering a ruby engagement ring, rest assured that sapphire and ruby (corundum) are the next best choice you can make next to diamond in terms of durability and everyday wearability.

When it comes to making a socially responsible and budget friendly ruby engagement ring purchase, your best course of action is to work with a reputable jeweler that you trust.

If you have any additional questions about buying a ruby engagement ring, don't hesitate to contact us here:

Garcia & Co. Jewelers in Farmington, NM Contact Information

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