Wondering the difference between garnet and ruby?
You're in the right place.
In this Learning Guide, we'll answer questions about these two red stones like:
- Can you buy natural rubies?
- Is garnet a durable gemstone?
- Is ruby good for an engagement ring?
Main Differences between Garnet vs Ruby
- Garnet comes in many color varieties, whereas ruby is the red color variety of corundum.
- Ruby is better for everyday wear, whereas garnet is a softer gemstone.
- A natural red ruby is rare, whereas a natural red garnet is more common.
- Rubies are precious gemstones, whereas garnets are semi precious stones.
- Garnet is the birthstone of January, whereas rubies are the birthstone of July.
Garnet vs Ruby: Origin
Garnet is the name of a gemstone species with many color varieties. However, it is best known as the deep reddish-orange birthstone of January. Red garnets are fairly common, though some garnet colors are considered more rare, like some green garnets.
The use of garnets in jewelry dates back to ancient civilizations. Along with other precious and semi precious stones, they are among the oldest gemstones. Many ancient Egyptian tomb artifacts contained garnet stones.
The Egyptians weren't the only ones captivated by garnets. Garnet was often used in signet rings and other jewelry by the ancient Romans and Greeks. They used their garnet signet rings to seal important documents.
The name "garnet" comes from the Latin word "granatas", which means seed or grain. Though unconfirmed, most speculate this was a reference to how red garnets looked like pomegranate seeds. Though garnet comes in many colors, the red color is the most common.
Read also: Best Red Gemstones
Garnets can be found all over the world. Some color varieties may come from just a few deposits, while red garnets come from many different places. Common places for red garnets would by India, United States, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, China, etc.
Ruby is pinkish red to red variety of the mineral corundum. You might know corundum better under its trade name sapphire. All colors of corundum are called sapphires, except for red.
Rubies have been mentioned in ancient times and even in biblical texts. However, many times in history it was often mistaken for red spinel. Many cultures have revered the stones including India, Europe and China.
Both garnets and rubies have been around since ancient times. Ruby is one of the four precious gemstones: sapphires, diamonds, and emeralds. A genuine ruby that hasn't received any kind of treatment is rare and goes for higher prices.
Read also: Best Place to Buy Ruby Jewelry
The red stone were named ruby after the Latin word ruber, meaning red. In the medieval times, the word rubinous came from ruber, which led to the stone being called ruby.
Majority of natural rubies come from Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Rubies can also be found in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, India, Australia, Tanzania, and others.
Garnet vs Ruby: Appearance
For sake of the many different colors and shades of garnet, we're only going to talk about red garnets today. The most common variety of red garnet is almandine garnet. This garnet variety is a deep red color, usually with orange or brown secondary hues. You can also find pyrope garnet in these colors.
My favorite red colored garnet is rhodolite garnet. Instead of the reddish orange to brown colors, rhodolites have pink or purple secondary tones. They are a deep red, with a rich raspberry secondary hue. Other red varieties start venturing into orange garnets, like Spessartite, hessonite, and Malaia.
Read also: Best Orange Gemstones
Because most garnet varieties are affordable and common, you shouldn't expect it to have any treatments. Likewise, lab created garnets aren't a thing, either. It's possible to come across other stones imitating garnet, like cubic zirconia or even glass.
The red color of this precious stone comes from traces of chromium entering colorless corundum as its forming. The base color of a ruby is always red, but it can have slightly purple or pink secondary hues. Iron content in the stone
Fine color genuine rubies can come from all over, but Burmese rubies are highly valued. The best color of a ruby is pigeon's blood rubies. These stones have an intense shade of blood red colors.
Garnet vs Ruby: Price and Value
There is a substantial price difference between a one carat untreated genuine ruby stone and a one carat almandine or pyrope garnet. Untreated natural rubies are very rare and hard to come by, so they can fetch high prices.
Ruby jewelry is valued by its color. Fine quality rubies with no treatment can command hundreds to thousands per carat. A fine color Burmese ruby that has received heat treatments may run around $7,000 per carat.
Both of those prices are much more expensive than what it would cost to obtain any red colored garnet. That's including the more rare red varieties.
Almandine garnet can cost around $35 per carat. Pyrope garnet can be around $20 per carat. Rhodolite garnet is just a little more expensive at $100 per carat.
Both ruby and garnet may be found with asterism. Asterism is a gemstone phenomena where inclusions are arranged in a star when light hits it. When cut en cabochon, the star effect is able to be seen. Star garnets are less common than star rubies.
A 1 carat top color star ruby can go for $1500 per carat. The larger the carat weight, the more expensive.
Aside from the actual value, you should assess the long-term value of rubies and garnets. Nobody wants an engagement ring that isn't gonna last the length of their marriage, right? Most of us opt to wear our wedding rings every day, so your stone should stand up well.
With a ruby, you don't have to worry about that. All corundum rates a 9 on the Mohs scale. The mineral scale of hardness lets you know how well your stone stands up to dust and dirt on a regular basis. That's different than how well the stone stands up to bumps and blows. Rubies don't have gemstone cleavage either, which only adds to their excellent wearability.
Different garnet varieties may have varied hardness levels on the Mohs scale, but no variety is as hard as corundum. Garnets range from 6.5 to 7.5, depending on the variety. Despite its lower hardness rating, garnets don't have gemstone cleavage. You won't have to worry about them splitting if struck like other faceted stones.
Garnet vs Ruby: Our Pick
Both rubies and garnets would make beautiful stones for an engagement ring. You should always choose what you love and what fits your budget. However, some gemstones make better center stones than others for engagement rings.
If I was choosing between a garnet and a ruby ring, I'd have to go with the ruby. Here's why:
Rubies have a higher hardness rating than garnets, making them better for everyday wear.
Rubies have no gemstone cleavage, which makes them less likely to split.
However, there are also some great reasons why you might like garnet better. You can get a larger carat size for cheaper, and garnets are easy to find completely clear.
If you don't like the red color of garnets, there are many other color varieties of garnets. Rubies only come in variants of reddish pink.
If you choose a garnet, you'll want to make sure it's in a protective ring setting, like a flush setting.