This Week's Obsession: Rubies
Ruby is the gemstone of passion. It has been worn by kings and given to the most famous lovers in history. Ruby can command the highest prices of any coloured gemstone. The per-carat prices of high-quality rubies have been rising consistently, many times breaking auction records. Can you judge a ruby by its colour? Of course, you can and you should. However, do not forget clarity, which weighs in as the second biggest factor of value. The colour, "Pigeon Blood Ruby Red" is not associated with the hue of a bird’s blood but rather the colour of a white pigeon’s eye.
Ruby can command the highest prices of any coloured gemstone. The per-carat prices of fine-quality rubies have been rising consistently, many times breaking auction records.
For better-quality material, slight differences in colour can make significant differences in value. For top-colour ruby that’s also free of eye-visible inclusions, the price rises even more.
The per-carat price of ruby can also increase dramatically as size increases, especially for better-quality stones.
Colour is the most significant factor affecting a ruby’s value. The finest ruby has a pure, vibrant red to slightly purplish red colour. In most markets, pure red
colours command the highest prices and ruby with overtones of orange and purple are less valued. The colour must be neither too dark nor too light to be considered finest quality. If the colour is too dark, it has a negative effect on the stone’s brightness. At the other extreme, if the colour is too light, the stone may be considered to be a pink sapphire, even if colour strength or intensity is high. That said, pink sapphires enjoy a following, at a far more competitive prices than rubies. Ultimately, the most desirable colour of ruby is the one you prefer the most.
The Difference Between Pink Sapphire and Ruby
Some gem dealers debate the borderline between ruby and pink sapphire. Historically, the word ruby referred to shades of red, which technically included pink. There are also cultural differences in the interpretation of ruby versus pink sapphire. In some gem-producing nations such as Sri Lanka, pink colors were always considered ruby, while in many consuming countries it is classified as pink sapphire.
The GIA Laboratory uses a controlled set of comparison stones called master stones to determine if corundum is ruby The laboratory grades its master stones on the principle that red must be the dominant hue before a stone can be called a ruby. In the gem trade, though, pinpointing the dominant hue is subject to personal perception.
Burmese Pigeon Blood Ruby
Historically, the term “pigeon’s blood” described the red to slightly purplish or pinkish red colour of rubies with a soft, glowing, red fluorescence.
Traditional descriptions like these are useful for evoking images and describing
colour among professionals. But they can be subject to misinterpretation when used to describe a ruby’s actual colour.
Over time and years of experience trade terms can conjure up perceptions of certain colours and qualities that are associated with a stone’s source. However, the qualities might be typical of that source or they might represent the finest stones from that source.
A single source never yields gems that are all the same colour and quality. In fact, the descriptive trade term might represent only a small, yet highly desired percentage of stones from that source.
Famous Rubies in History
A few rubies have distinguished themselves because of their sizes and extraordinary beauty, here are some famous and remarkable rubies found in history:
Alan Caplan Ruby – Named after Alan Caplan, a famous mineralogist and gemstone dealer who acquired the stone in Burma. This stone is also known as “Mogok Ruby”, derived from the source of this fine gemstone. This 15.97 carats Burmese stone was sold by Sotheby’s in New York for $3,630,000 per carat of $227,301 on October 18, 1988.
The Carmen Lúcia Ruby - is one of the finest and largest faceted Burmese rubies known. The stone was also mined from the prominent Mogok region of Burma in the 1930s.
This natural ruby possesses a combination of outstanding characteristics. Aside from its massive size, this extraordinary gemstone displays a richly saturated homogenous red colour, combined with an exceptional degree of transparency. The Carmen Lúcia Ruby is nowadays mounted in a platinum ring with 2 triangular-cut diamonds totalling 2.38 carats. This magnificent ruby was a gift to the Smithsonian and the people of the United States in 2004. It was a gift from Dr. Peter Buck, in memory of his wife, Brazilian Carmen Lúcia Buck. She was known for her love for the United States, devotion to children, and appreciation for fine jewellery. The Carmen Lúcia Ruby is on display in the Gem Gallery at the National Museum of Natural History.
De Long Star Ruby – Remarkable star ruby, also Burmese origin can be found at the Natural History Museum in the New York City. This gorgeous vivid purplish-red ruby weighs 100.32 carats and has an eye-catching 6-rayed star effect. The DeLong Star Ruby receives its name from Mrs. Edith Haggin de Long. She purchased the stone in 1937 from Martin Leo Ehrmann, the renowned gemstone and mineral collector, and dealer. He travelled worldwide in search of rare and expensive gems and minerals, building up an extensive collection of unique minerals. Mrs. Edith Haggin de Long later donated the extraordinary orchid-red star ruby to the American Museum of Natural History. The gemstone was named the De Long Star Ruby in her memory.
In 1964 the Delong Star Ruby was the object of a scandalous burglary, carried out by Jack Murphy, known as the Surf and two accomplices. It was then ransomed and recovered. The De Long Star was found at a designated drop off site – a phone booth in Florida.
The Sunrise Ruby - In May 2015, a new gemstone auction record was set by a most expensive ruby. The precious gem is known as the Sunrise Ruby. It is a 25.59-carat “pigeon blood” red Burmese ruby, which is set into a Cartier ring and flanked by white diamonds. A Swiss buyer paid $30 million for the ruby gemstone (over $1 million per carat). The Sunrise Ruby was assessed by the Gubelin Gem Lab in Zurich, where it was concluded that the jewel has a vivid “pigeon blood” red and of rare quality.
The Sunrise Ruby has extraordinarily fine tone and purity and a well-balanced cut rare in rubies of this size. The Global Chairman of Sotheby’s said that in all his 40 years in the business, he has, “not once observed a ruby of this caliber.” It bears its name from a poem by Rumi, the 13th-century Sufi mystic.
The Nawata Ruby – Which was found in 1990 is an exceptional ruby gemstone that weighs 496.5 carats and is a national treasure of the Union of Myanmar. It is also called SLORC Ruby (State Law and Order Restoration Committee). This exceptional gem has an extraordinary story behind it:
The Nawata Ruby was found at Dattaw in the Mogok mining area of Burma. According to the book “Fire and Blood” by Diane Morgan and other accounts in newspapers, it was found by Than Htun, the owner of a brothel in Mandalay. He smuggled the ruby to Thailand and unsuccessfully tried to sell it for 2 billion dollars. One of the Thai buyers tipped the military junta in Burma, who then sent agents to recover the stone and the miners. Than Htun was then executed or sentenced to life in prison.
The Hixon Ruby - one of the collection’s best-known specimens. The 196.10 carats crystal was donated in 1978 to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles by Colonel Frederick Hixon. It is considered to be one of the most perfect large ruby crystals discovered to date.
The Rosser Reeves Ruby – The legendary Sri Lankan star ruby is one of the finest and largest rubies of the world. The gem weighs in at 138.7 carats, and it is prized for its brilliant colour and its distinct star pattern. The Rosser Reeves Ruby is named after its owner, who carried the ruby around for good luck referring to it as “my baby.” Before donating the gemstone to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, in 1965.
Rosser Reeves was an American advertising executive who wrote “Reality in Advertising” and was responsible for the “Unique Selling Proposition” or USP. The qualities which make it a fine gemstone are its translucency, colour and centrally aligned, well-defined star.
The Graff Ruby – A well-known cushion cut Burmese ruby with a weight of 8.62 carats. The Graff Ruby, an 8.62-carat Pigeon’s Blood Burmese ruby – widely celebrated as the most valuable ruby in the world – is a once in a lifetime discovery. Effortlessly complemented by brilliant cut white diamond shoulder stones the bewitching Pigeon’s Blood shade of red is phenomenally striking. One of the most important ruby gemstones that Graff has ever created, this is a historic jewel with a remarkable legacy. In February 2006. It was bought by a famous and credited London diamond and gemstone dealer and luxury jeweller Laurence Graff, known as the King of Diamonds. Graff paid a $3,637,480.00 at Christie’s. It was a new record price per carat of $421,981. He had named the gemstone the “Graff Ruby”. After that, he sold the ruby to a Greek financier Dimitri Mavrommatis, but realising his mistake, he changed his mind and bought the 8.62 carat gem for the second time in 2014. He paid 8.2 million Swiss francs ($8.6 million) for the Burmese ruby, at a Geneva auction.