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Seeing Red: A Guide to Red Gemstones

Red is a highly emotive colour, associated with passion, power, luxury and good luck, amongst other meanings. The red in the American flag represents courage. The Chinese wear it at weddings to bring good luck. In Russian red means beautiful. And it is the first colour a baby sees.

Although there are many other red coloured gemstones (garnets and spinels) and gemstones that come in a red variety, such as red fire opal, and red tourmaline (often traded as rubellite), when it comes to the world of gemstones the colour red is most closely associated with rubies.

Red Gemstones

The word ‘ruby’ comes from the Latin ‘rubens’, meaning red, with the ruby deriving its red colour from the element chromium, which at its best is the most valuable of the Corundum family (rubies and sapphires). It is the depth and vibrancy of the red colour that dictates a ruby’s value – the more orange or purple the colour the less valuable it will be. There is also a fine line, and a hotly debated one among experts, between what is a ruby and what is a pink sapphire.

One of the most famous rubies is not actually a ruby. The Black Prince Ruby in the State Crown is, in fact, a fine spinel. Rubies and spinels are frequently found in the same location and used to be confused. Meanwhile, one of the finest rubies in the world resides in the Smithsonian Museum in the USA.

Black Prince Ruby
Carmen Lúcia Mogok Ruby

The Carmen Lúcia Mogok Ruby is a rare 23.10 carat, richly saturated red Burmese ruby, set in a platinum ring featuring triangular-cut diamonds on either side. It is named after Carmen Lúcia Buck, who purchased it while undergoing treatment for cancer. Sadly, she never got to wear it. Carmen Lucia’s husband, Dr. Peter Buck, gifted the magnificent ruby to the Smithsonian in memory of his wife, inspired by her love for the United States, devotion to children, and appreciation for fine jewellery.

Gemstone specialists GF Williams supplies a huge range of high quality coloured gemstones and is an expert and experienced gemstone supplier to designers, manufacturers, collectors and private clients.

Find out more about how GF Williams can fulfil your gemstone requirements by browsing our online gemstone catalogue or contacting our friendly team of gemstone experts on +44 (0) 207 405 5477 or email office@gfwilliams.co.uk.