Looking for the perfect place to buy ruby jewelry online?
You're in the right place! In this Learning Jewelry guide I'll answer common questions like:
- What Should You Look For When Buying Rubies Online?
- Are Rubies Good For An Engagement Ring?
- How Do You Know You're Getting A Good Deal?
- What Are The Red Flags To Watch Out For When Buying?
- How to Save Money When Shopping For Ruby Jewelry Online?
Top 4 Best Places to Buy Ruby Jewelry Online
If you need the list quick, here are my top picks for finding quality ruby jewelry from reputable online dealers. Keep reading for more information about each of these shops.
- James Allen (best pricing and value)
- Brilliant Earth (known origins)
- Blue Nile (good selection)
- Leibish & Co. (high end)
On the other hand, if you aren't sold on ruby jewelry yet, you might want to find out the best place to buy diamond online.
What Are Rubies?
Rubies are known for their bright red color and are also the birthstone for those born in July. Rubies are faceted from the mineral corundum, which is the same mineral of sapphire.
Red corundum is ruby, but any other color corundum is sapphire. Corundum starts off as colorless, but when certain chemical impurities come into contact with the corundum, it creates colors. Corundum needs to have chromium introduced to it to become a ruby.
There are many things to know when picking out the best quality rubies. Let's get into it!
1. James Allen
James Allen has a large collection of loose rubies that you can set in an engagement ring, pendant, or ruby earrings. All of the rubies from James Allen have received heat treatment, which is how they can sell such affordable pieces.
A loose ruby is affordable from James Allen more so with others. They have hundreds of loose rubies of varying color hues, tones, and saturations. After you've picked out your center stone, you can pick any one of their settings. They'll put it together and send it to you very quickly.
A custom designed ring locally will cost you a ton, but James Allen won't. Not only is a loose ruby from James Allen affordable, but they offer complete transparency.
Their 360 viewing technology allows you to survey the ruby from every angle, observing it clarity and cut details. You can buy with confidence knowing that you are going to receive exactly what you see online.
Check it out below:
If you purchase any ruby jewelry from James Allen, they give you an awesome free lifetime warranty. This warranty covers any routine metalwork you might need, such as retipping prongs, rhodium plating white gold, and polishing or cleaning.
They even have select Jared stores that you can send off jewelry for repair. Additionally, you get one free ring resizing, just in case it doesn't fit quite right.
2. Brilliant Earth
Like James Allen, Brilliant Earth carries loose ruby gemstones to build your own engagement ring. Right now, they have a small collection of 8 lab grown rubies. They carried natural rubies at one point, but the inventory is always fluctuating.
You can view the rubies under a 360˚ viewer, but lab gemstones usually don't have obvious inclusions anyway. Once you've selected your ruby, you can choose from over 200 ring settings to accompany it. I love that they actually show what a ruby looks like in each setting. James Allen has you imagine what the stone might look like in your set.
As for other ruby jewelry, it's a little difficult to find. They carry a small selection of ruby earrings and necklaces. You'll also see that if you search ruby in the search function, a ton of rings will come up that aren't available to buy or are marked sold.
These are on there to give customers an idea of what a full custom ruby engagement ring might look like. You can use the images to create your own with the company, or take multiple inspiration idea. Customs at Brilliant Earth start at $2000.
They offer customers an Extended Service Plan that is based on a cost sliding scale. It lasts three years, and then you have the option to renew it. The ESP will cover all routine maintenance like rhodium, prong tightening, and stone tightening. However, if you buy online without meeting with a diamond expert, you'll have to call to add the ESP after you make your purchase.
Why James Allen is better: James Allen has a much larger selection of natural rubies at an affordable price. Personally, I feel like Brilliant Earth charges too much for lab grow rubies.
3. Blue Nile
All of Blue Nile's ruby jewelry is pre-set, so don't go looking for any loose rubies like you can at James Allen. However, Blue Nile's ruby jewelry selection is much better than James Allen. From necklaces to earrings, and bracelets to ruby rings, there's plenty of choices.
But not if you're working with a cheaper budget, like $500. Blue Nile sells higher quality jewelry, so there won't be any cheaper lab created rubies like other stores. All of Blue Nile's ruby jewelry will be set in various color golds or platinum.
For those who want something stunning and have the cash to pay big bucks for it, look no further than Blue Nile's Extraordinary Collection. These high end pieces are the best of gemstone and diamond jewelry offered.
Check out these gorgeous ruby and diamond earrings from the collection valued at $34,000:
You can't see any real kind of viewer, other than to magnify certain areas of the stone. However, you can be sure that if you're buying from Blue Nile, your stone will most definitely be top quality, even if you can't physically see it. It's the lower price ranges you have too look out for, like chain retailers in the United States.
Why James Allen is better: James Allen offers rubies for everyone, no matter what their budget or price range is. Even if you can't afford something right then and there, the goal is attainable to save money for the purchase.
Blue Nile has gorgeous pieces, but there isn't a lot of wiggle room with price. James Allen's loose rubies allow customers to have more of a say on how much their pieces cost.
4. Leibish & Co
Leibish and Co. is a high quality fancy color diamond and precious gemstone online jewelry store. They are generally a high priced dealer, with only a few rubies under $5000 for a 1 carat.
Their rubies mainly come from Mozambique. Leibish and Co. also carries treated and untreated rubies. They also carry a couple of the prized pigeon blood rubies from Burma.
As you can see, the prices skyrocket at Leibish & Co. If you're a buyer or collector that has an open wallet, I definitely recommend buying from Leibish & Co.
All of their stones have a 360 degree viewer, allowing you to survey any clarity inclusions and really see the color in it.
The rubies also all come with a certificate from their place of origin as well. The craftsmanship at Leibish is incredible. They have unique pieces that are timeless and can be passed down from generation to generation.
Why James Allen is better: James Allen gives you a lifetime warranty on all your ruby jewelry to cover any routine maintenance it might need. Most of their rubies are much cheaper than Leibish & Co and they offer it for free. At Leibish and Co., you can spend $10,000 and still have to pay for the same warranty that James Allen gives you freely.
FAQ When Buying Ruby Jewelry Online
Are Rubies Good For An Engagement Ring?
The hardest and most durable natural mineral known to man is a diamond, which reaches a 10 on the Moh scale of hardness.
Corundum reaches a 9, meaning that rubies are durable enough to be worn every day as an engagement ring.
You might not find too many engagement rings with rubies as center stones or as melee stones. You're more likely to find blue sapphires in these settings than rubies. If you're wanting a ruby engagement ring locally, you'll most likely have to consult a local jeweler for a custom ruby ring, or a fine jewelry retailer that does customs. Personally, I'd suggest taking your search online before committing to buying only locally.
Is Ruby Jewelry More Expensive?
Being a popular red gemstone, rubies are not going to be as expensive as diamond, usually. A 1 carat ruby center stone will probably be less than a 1 carat diamond. However, the measurements of value for both rubies and diamonds are quite different.
Diamonds require top quality in all 4cs (Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carat). A ruby's value is generally determined by color and carat weight or size. But, if it's eye clean of inclusions, it'll be valued even more. So, a 3 carat natural ruby that is eye clean will probably cost more than a 1 carat eye clean diamond.
There are always exceptions to the idea that color gemstones are less expensive than diamonds. A 1 carat Burmese ruby from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) will command prices more expensive than a 1 carat diamond because of its color and scarcity.
Read More: What are the best ruby rings for men?
What Should You Look For When Buying Ruby Online?
You've probably heard of the 4Cs by now, a diamond grading system put forth by the Gemological Institute of America. With gemstones, they follow the same basic guidelines, but without the actual grades.
Rubies are native-cut, which means that they are cut in their country of origin without much effort to control the shape of the gem or its inclusions. They are cut with standard facets that don't display a ton of light or color.
Often time these stones have to be recut, if the cost of recutting is worth it. Most of the time, cut doesn't affect colored gemstones too much, but cut shape has somewhat of an impact on ruby value.
Ruby is desired to be in brilliant cuts like round brilliants, and cushion cuts, which maximize the amount of light through the stone. Step cuts like Asschers and emerald cuts are also great for rubies. Ovals and cushions are very common in ruby jewelry.
Rubies have their place among cabochon jewelry, which is cut and polished, but not faceted. Corundum sometimes has rutile inclusions that are arranged naturally to display an asterisk across the stone. These are referred to star rubies and star sapphires. Cabochons utilize lower quality ruby and can be cut to set in jewelry.
Rubies are most valued by their color and their color tone, hue, and saturation.
The tone of a colored stone is measured from colorless to black. The grading terms can be found as follows: Very Light, Light, Medium, Medium Dark, Dark, and Very Dark. They can be For most gemstones, you'll want it in the Medium to Very Dark range.
Similar to sapphires, there are different hues of rubies that are desired. The most desirable and high quality rubies are from Myanmar. They are known for blood red hue, known famously as pigeon blood red rubies, An untreated Burma ruby can sell for $1 million per carat, out of most people's price range.
You can see a gorgeous Burmese ruby bracelet at the famous Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.
Colored Gemstone Hue Example
Other hues of ruby quality can be orangey red, pinkish red, or purplish red. Rubies from Thailand are thought of as excellent quality ruby as well with their dark red hue. The combo of iron and chromium in the chemical makeup creates the dark red color.
Afghanistan rubies produce a light red to a dark red color. Madagascar rubies have been known to range from orange into natural red. It can be difficult to differentiate between pinkish red rubies and pink sapphires.
Sometimes one lab may grade as a ruby, while another may grade it as a pink sapphire. Sapphires are prized, but rubies are rarer, even if they're the same mineral. Strange how that works, huh?
Saturation is how intense the color is in the ruby. When you have low saturation in a colored gemstone, it can make the gem look either brownish or grayish, depending on its color. Rubies from Tanzania actually are valued more as smaller stones, because the saturation is more vivid.
For cool colors like blue, violet or green, low saturation causes the stone to look grayish. For warm colors like yellow, red, and orange, low saturation will cause these colors to look brownish. You may see the saturation terms on a grading report from the GIA as follows:
The clarity of a gemstone refers to how transparent the stone is when the light is reflected through it. Clarities of colored gemstones use the I3, I2, I1, SI2 SI1, VS, VVS, and IF clarity scale. IF diamonds are the most desirable, followed closely by VVS diamonds. However, they are sub-grades under gemstone clarity types I , II, and III.
Quality rubies should have a eye clean clarity between SI1 and VS2. It's possible to find a ruby with an I clarity grade that doesn't have an inclusion across the table, but you might have to spend time with the 360 viewer.
This is why it's important to be able to see the stone before you buy it. Inclusions are natural, so they're not placed the same in each crystal. You can have the same amount of inclusions to be an I clarity grade, but their placement will determine the beauty.
It's actually pretty uncommon to find rubies larger than 1 carat. And if you do find a gem quality ruby in a larger carat weight, it's going to be very expensive. The size of a ruby is the other factor (the first is color) that determines its overall value and price. Anything over 2 carats is extremely rare and will cause prices to skyrocket.
Red Flags When Buying Rubies Online?
It used to be really unsafe to purchase online. Thankfully, there have been many advances for security. While your credit card info is generally safe through places like Paypal, CashApp, and Apple/Google Pay, we don't have to worry too much about it. But there are a couple things to look at for.
The key word you want to avoid is ruby simulant or simulated rubies. Simulated rubies are other stones, man-made or other gemstones to portray ruby. They use ruby as the keyword in the title so anyone searching for a ruby will come with a cheap piece of jewelry that says ruby, but isn't. Here's an example:
The description says ruby CZ, but what it means is that the stone is red cubic zirconia, meant to pretend it's ruby. CZ comes in a variety of colors and is probably the most used gemstone simulant in fake jewelry. Other ruby simulants could be red spinel, dyed glass, and even garnet are passed off as rubies.
Simulated rubies aren't to be confused with synthetic rubies. The only difference between a synthetic ruby and a natural ruby is that they are created in a lab, not dug out of a mine. The physical and chemical composition is the same. Synthetic rubies are usually heat treated as well, and you can find them pretty cheap. The lab conditions also allow for better controlled clarity and color too.
There might be some concern about Burmese rubies, also known as pigeon's blood rubies. There's a long history of the US banning both rubies and jadeite from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) due to military uprising and overtaking democratic elections.
Unfortunately there's some debate as to whether this was even effective. Rubies made a small portion of the miltary's income and the ban really harmed small miners and their livelihoods. Further than that, most of their buyers were from China anyway, so the lack of business from the US wasn't a huge hit to the big companies.
In 2016, the Obama administration lifted the ban from all Myanmar gemstones. But in 2021, a military coup once again took over. The Biden administration has put a ban on certain ruby companies and has also banned the pearls. Pearls are a big source of income for the military coup.
Because Burmese rubies aren't really in abundance like diamonds are in mines, they can't really be labeled a conflict gemstone. But if it really concerns you, a place like Brilliant Earth that sells lab created rubies might be up your alley. Or even natural ones that tell you which country they come from.
How to get the Best Deal When Rubies Online?
I'm going to leave you with three lasting tips and reminders to think about when buying rubies online.
Make sure you can see the stone
Darker rubies that are almost opaque aren't going to reveal inclusions like a high quality transparent ruby will. When buying online, you'll want to see all aspects of that stone, especially if it's to be a center stone of an engagement ring.
If you're buying an affordable ruby center stone under $1000 per carat, you're going to want to be able to see the stone clearly, whether it's through a 360 viewer like James Allen, high magnification like Brian Gavin, or showroom viewings at Zales.
If you're buying a high quality ruby from Blue Nile or Leibish and Co, seeing the stone isn't as important. You can pretty much guarantee that if you're paying those prices, you are receiving top quality ruby gemstones.
Buy from a reputable dealer
Buying on the internet can be a little sketchy, especially from private dealers on different social media apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, and others. It's not to say that you can't buy a nice ruby from a local person in a foreign country, but there are many stories throughout the gem community of people being ripped off from these situations.
This is why it's good to avoid these altogether, unless you're an experienced collector. Most people looking to buy a ruby engagement ring aren't gemologists and are better suited to buy from a reputable company. Any of the fine jewelry stores we've mentioned in this article are safe for you to purchase from.
Don't compromise on Cut
Corundum is the second most hardest mineral known to man, just under the durability of a diamond. It reaches a 9 on the Moh scale, which makes it a perfect stone to wear everyday. This why both rubies and sapphires are great as center stones on engagement rings and wedding bands.
Not all gemstones are hard enough to survive the bumps of the day. But if your stone has a bad cut to it, it can compromise its durability. The weight needs to be balanced, so make sure to pick out rubies with a good cut and even shapes.
Now that you know what to look for (and what to avoid) when it comes to shopping for your next piece of ruby jewelry, it's time to find the right one for your needs.
If you have the budget to spend mid 5-figures on a ruby, you can't go wrong the incredible craftsmanship offered by Leibish & Co.
However, if like me you are always looking to get more carats per dollar, then you'll surely find a great option at James Allen. Best of all, you can choose from hundreds of loose rubies to design your own piece of jewelry from.