Red gemstones inspire emotions and are quite a charmer when used in jewelry.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- What red gemstones are
- Where to buy them
- And the different types of red gemstones along with their pros and cons.
What Are Red Gemstones?
Red is definitely a color that attracts attention. For years, it has been a dominant color and, in gemstones, has been used to make jewelry like necklaces, pendants, or even a piece of beadwork.
If you’re familiar with red gemstones then ruby should be the first stone that comes to mind. Of course, red garnets will also fall in place along with red topaz, agate, and a few other red gemstones.
The popularity of this phenomenal color representing strong emotions such as passion, love, and lust, might be exactly why red gemstones are perfect for jewelry alike.
What Metal is Best for Red Gemstones?
First off, you should never let anyone dictate what colored gemstone you should or shouldn't wear. That being said, there are certain colors that are said to look better together than others. The same goes for red gemstone jewelry.
The color red is a warm toned color. Red gemstones look best in warm toned metals, not white or silver hued metals. The warmth of yellow gold and rose gold settings will enhance the hues in red gemstones.
However, dark red gemstones can look great in white gold, silver, or platinum. Orange red gemstones and red pink gemstones will do better in yellow gold or rose.
Similarly, red gemstones look better on warm skin tone rather than cool skin tones. People with pink undertones in their skin might not want to wear red gemstones as they could make the skin appear more pink.
What are the Different Types of Red Stones?
There aren't as many red gemstones as other colors, especially ones with pure red hues. Not every red gemstone is good for daily wear. Many of them can't be faceted or are collector's specimens.
With its silky shine and rich color, ruby can have shades from pink to orange and even brownish red hues. However, brown red colors aren't the most desired.
The color in natural ruby obtained from chromium and iron content in the stone.The color is the single most important factor that draws the line between affordable and expensive ruby gemstones.
It is the second hardest gemstone (9 Mohs). Ruby is the red variety of corundum. All other colors of corundum are sapphires.
Since they’ll have zero cleavage, these red gemstones are perfect for everyday jewelry like engagement rings. You'll love their silky luster.
A highly valued ruby gemstone should have a medium-to-medium dark red hue or better known as “pigeon blood red” color. These types are probably the most beautiful and expensive too!
Since most high-quality rubies are generally expensive, there are synthetic forms and treated types selling at lower prices. Just remember, heat-treating in rubies is more of an industry requirement and you’ll find it mentioned in the certificates that come with the gemstones.
Read also: Best Place to Buy Ruby Jewelry Online
2. Red Garnet
In the red variety called pyrope, the gemstone has a more blood-colored hue with brownish undertones. Red rhodolite garnet is a popular variety of garnet for its magenta and purplish red hues.
Lighter shades are rare to find but they’re always worth the dig. Garnets are really not expensive and can be good alternatives to rubies.
Garnets tend to come eye-clean, with impeccable transparency. However, they may not be entirely durable, especially with a hardness level of 6.5 to 7 Mohs.
That being said, when used in engagement rings, it is important to place them in protective settings such as halo to prevent damage or scratches. They may not be suitable for your perfect everyday jewelry, but a heedful buyer may possess this stone for decades.
Read also: Best Ruby Rings for Men
3. Red Spinel
In the past, people often confused red spinel with ruby and it was until gemological tools became available that we were able to distinguish the two as different stones. One of the oldest spinel gems was called the Black Prince's Ruby because they didn't know it was spinel at the time.
The two have very similar red hues. Both can have bright red or deep red tones. A major distinction between the two would be varying hardness- red spinel has 8 Mohs while ruby rates at 9 Mohs.
Even though ruby may be softer than its look-alike, the stone is popular for its high levels of clarity and brilliance.
Nearly all red spinel is inclusion-free and highly transparent due to high dispersion rates and refractive index. Red spinel is rarely treated and comes as an ideal gem for all types of jewelry.
4. Red Diamonds
Red diamonds are the rarest colored diamonds in the world.
Vivid red diamonds with fully natural color are nearly impossible to find. Only a handful of individuals possess untreated red diamonds. Interestingly, the red color if a red diamond may not be a result of inclusions as most colored gemstones are.
Natural red diamonds are entirely made of carbon and obtain their red color from deformations in the arrangement of crystal lattice within the carbon atoms. As a result, when light passes through, it’s bent, making the stone appear red.
Of course, the rarity of a red diamond has significant implications for its price. A natural red diamond can several hundred thousand dollars per carat! Alternatively, you may be able to find a synthetic red diamond available at an affordable price.
5. Fire Opal
You'll find this variety of opal on our Most Popular Orange gemstones list due to its orange red hues. Some material may lean more towards bright orange dominant and others may be more red. Pure red fire opal are very rare gems. They will almost always have orange secondary hues.
There's a lot of people that still don't know opals occur in colors other than their pearly white with rainbow play of light. But opals may occur as blue opal, pink opal, and black opal too.
Fire opal, along with all other opals, aren't very durable stones. They have a low hardness rating on the Mohs scale (5.5-6.5). However, fire opal may offer more protection than other varieties.
Normally, opals are cut en cabochon to display their eye catching color and unique surface patterns. Fire opals are the only variety that are faceted. So instead of sticking out in cab form, faceted pieces are less likely to be scratched.
Fire opal may cost around $100 per carat when faceted, or $150 in cab form.
6. Rubellite Tourmaline
Red tourmaline is also called rubellite, or rubellite tourmaline. These raspberry red gemstones are great to be used in any type of jewelry. They have a hardness rating of 7-7.5 and no gemstone cleavage.
Red tourmalines have great wearability, but they also have visible inclusions. They are most valued for pinkish red shades. However, it can't be too pink, or they would be pink tourmaline.
Red tourmaline stones have a vitreous luster. Natural stones are common, but most of them have been heat treated or irradiated to intensify color. It's safe to say that all rubellite tourmaline on the market has been treated. High quality red gems may range between 400-100 dollars per carat.
7. Red Zircon
The name zircon is often confused with cubic zirconia, which is synthetic and significantly cheaper than red zircon. Colorless zircon and cubic zirconia are entirely different gems, but both are used as diamond simulants.
The stones come in vivid reds with undertones of orange and sometimes purple.
Even though red zircons are a beauty, with a hardness of 6.5 to 7.5 Mohs and cleavage, they are not your best bet for everyday wear. Red zircon is not so expensive and most have to go through heat-treatment to enhance optical properties. It may go for around $100 per carat.
8. Red Topaz
Red topaz is a member of the Imperial topaz group. This class of topaz comes in different color ranges including yellow pink, pinkish red, and orange.
The red topaz is most likely the most expensive of all imperial topazes. They are quite rare with deposits occurring every now and then in Brazil.
It is durable (8 Mohs) and most stones are heat treated to enhance the color. However, deeper natural colored red topazes are more valuable.
Red topaz has a vitreous luster and is almost entirely free from inclusions. This gemstone is a perfect choice for pendants and necklaces, although they may also look stunning in earrings and engagement rings.
Read also: Top 5 Fake Diamond Stud Earrings
9. Red Beryl
Initially called bixbite, red beryl is a species of beryl that’s very rare. You might hear red beryl called red emerald. Just like diamonds, pure beryl are colorless gems. However, when mineral impurities invade this gemstone, the result is often colored beryl, such as green beryl, emeralds, or the rare red beryls.
Found in only a few locations in Utah and New Mexico, red beryl is sometimes considered the rarest gemstone on earth. Its first use is only a few years ago- in the mid-20th century.
Most bixbite has minor inclusions but due to its rare nature, red beryl barely compromises the stone’s value or price. This stone is a perfect choice for statement jewelry.
10. Red Jasper
Jasper is a type of quartz available in a wide variety of colors. Red jasper is the most common and can be found on the earth’s surface almost anywhere in the world.
However, with a little craftsmanship, the gemstone can make fascinating jewelry often with a bohemian vibe added to it.
Red jasper is an opaque gemstone with a vitreous luster. Since the stone has a rich color, it is nearly impossible to find heat treated gemstones.
The stone is relatively soft and less durable than most red gems (6.5 Mohs). The gemstone can easily chip or break away under pressure or rough conditions.
Luckily, the stone is affordable and easily replaceable. You’ll find red jasper stones in cabochons and smooth shapes as opposed to facets.
11. Red Tiger's Eye
Most people know tiger's eye as the chatoyant yellow-brown gemstone. Not only does it occur in red hues, it can be a deep blue gemstone too, known as hawk's eye. Red tiger's eye may also be called Dragon's Eye. These stones have a mixture of deep red hues and orange red bands.
Read also: 18 Most Popular Brown Gemstones
Tiger's eye in any form is going to be affordable. These red gems aren't faceted, but often used as cabochons and spheres. When used in jewelry, red tiger's eye is usually in bead form for bracelets.
12. Red Agate
In essence, agate can be described as a chalcedony of several colored bands. Red agate rarely comes in pure red color as most stones have white to grey bands. If you encounter a purely red color agate, then it was probably dyed.
Red agates have a smooth sheen and a distinctively waxy luster. They are tough stones and have fair hardness of about 7 Mohs. Due to its smooth nature, it is often cut in cabochons and worn in most jewelry types.
You may find a rough red agate stone cheap, but the price is often dependent on the settings and craftsmanship of the gem.
13. Red Coral
Red coral is one interesting gemstone having been formed entirely from organic compounds made of tiny marine creatures. It may also be referred to as precious coral.
Red coral is entirely made of coral polyps and like most organic gemstones, it is very soft (3 to 4 Mohs). Red coral is a popular variety of the coral family, which come in different beautiful colors.
It is a translucent to opaque stone, having an eye-catching vivid red saturation. Red coral is often set in cabochons although due to the unique nature of these gemstones, collectors often prefer them in their original shape.
If polished, the stone shows a waxy, glossy surface. Red corals are another type of red gemstones perfect for statement jewelry or other delicate pieces.
Rhodochrosite and rhodonite are often confused with each other. Throw in rhodolite garnet and heads spin. However, rhodochrosite is another collector's stone because most rhodochrosite are actually pink gem stones and its not good for daily wear.
Red gemstones are rare, but they can be beautiful. It's another soft stone with pink to red or orange secondary tints to red hues. Rhodochrosite sits at a hardness level of 3.5-4 and runs about $150-500 per carat depending on where it's from.
Read also: 17 Most Popular Orange Gemstones
Cinnabar is a super soft stone that can be scratched by the slightest object. Unfortunately, that's not the only thing that makes in unwearable in jewelry. This red gemstone shouldn't be handled at all because it's made of mercury sulfide-which is toxic.
Faceted materials are extremely rare due to its poor wearability. China has made beads out of small red crystals, but it's hard to find the legit ones on the market. Cinnabar doesn't occur as large crystals and is used mainly as a collector's specimen.
Rhodonite is a popular gemstone used for metaphysical purposes rather than in a jewelry collection. It's a brittle stone with cleavage and fractures. Pretty much everything that makes a gem unwearable, you can bet rhodonite has it. Its hardness rating is 5.5-6.5.
Faceted pieces have been produced, but it's not a fun time for lapidaries. Most people have these red gemstones as mineral specimens or polished cabochons. It's extremely rare to find faceted gems, so this red stone doesn't have a price per carat. Cabochon rhodonite is an affordable stone.
Cuprite is another rare red gemstone used for collector's purposes. Faceted jewelry pieces of this gem are scarce and only cut into larger gems.
Unfortunately, wearing cuprite is actually toxic to your skin. It's made of copper oxide, and its dust is considered toxic. Wearing it on your skin shouldn't be an issue, but definitely keep out of reach of children.
If you do get your hands on cuprite, don't take it out into sunlight because its blood red color can fade. It's a very soft stone with Mohs scale rating of 3.5-4. It has poor wearability for the daily, but would make a great occasional gem.
A 4+ carat cuprite stone may go for $50-200 per carat.
18. Red Andesine
Red andesine stones are considered one of the rarest gemstones around, and not just as a red gem. It made its way to the gemstone market recently in 2003. They haven't quite nailed down all the details of this red gemstone, but it is found in multiple areas.
Red andesine is part of the feldspar family, home to other popular colored gemstones like amazonite, labradorite, and moonstone. It has bright red hues and brownish red honey hues. It has a hardness level of 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale. Because material is scarce, there's no price per carat for these red gemstones.
Where to Buy Red Gemstone Jewelry?
As you can see, red gemstones are rare colored gemstones. Many of them aren't available in abundance or are collector's gemstones.
If you happen to be after a natural red diamond, I recommend purchasing from Leibish & Co. They have gorgeous red diamonds that also come certified for authenticity. You can also find pink-red Argyle Diamonds in their inventory.
James Allen carries the most affordable ruby gemstones, but many of them have been treated.
Brilliant Earth carries rubies, rhodolite garnet, pyrope garnet, red zircon, and synthetic red diamonds.
All other red gemstones should can be found in gemstone markets, on Etsy, and other private mineral sellers.