Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but colored gemstones such as rubies and emeralds are just as popular and just as timeless. These precious stones are two of the big three gemstones, and are not only famed for their beautiful colors, but also their rarity and durability.
Although several factors impact the prices of rubies and emeralds, such as the famous Four C’s, rubies usually command a higher price per carat than emeralds. However, both gems have historically commanded significant prices, and are the subject of fascination for jewel aficionados the world over.
Take a look at our guide to two of the most notable precious stones to find out what makes them so special, which rubies and emeralds are the most famous, and how much it will cost to pick up a ruby or emerald of your very own.
What exactly are rubies and emeralds?
Rubies, easily identifiable by their brilliant red hue, are formed from the same mineral type as sapphires.
Rubies gain their distinctive color from the presence of chromium within the mineral.
While Myanmar has traditionally been the most famous source of rubies, these gems have also been found in Thailand, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Along with aquamarine stones, brilliant green emeralds are of the mineral type known as beryl.
Similarly to rubies, emeralds gain their color from the presence of chromium.
The vast majority of the world’s emeralds come from Colombia, with some estimating that the South American country supplies between 70-90% of the global emerald market.
Egyptian emerald mines also boast a strong place in the history of emerald production, although these were abandoned upon discovery of the superior Colombian emerald in the 16th Century.
How are rubies and emeralds assessed?
Like diamonds, the value of rubies and emeralds is subject to the Four C’s: cut, color, clarity, and carat.
Both rubies and emeralds are cut in order to exhibit their brilliance and take advantage of the natural shape of their rough forms.
While rubies are most commonly seen in cushion or oval cuts, emeralds have their very own cut which is actually named after them – their distinctive rectangular cut is called an emerald cut!
The brilliant red of rubies is one of their most alluring features.
While a ruby’s color can range anywhere from almost-pink to dark red, the most valuable rubies are known as “pigeon’s blood”; their red-purple hues and vibrancy make them incredibly rare and extremely valuable.
The most desirable emeralds have a color that falls somewhere between blue-green and pure green, with a strong color saturation.
Due to the way in which rubies and emeralds are formed, both gems rarely have perfect clarity.
While you can always expect to see some inclusions in these colored stones, many gemologists regard this as part of their charm; the inclusions inside an emerald are even dubbed as a “garden”!
Carat refers to a gemstone’s weight, with larger stones having a higher carat.
Usually, although not always, larger rubies and emeralds are regarded as being more valuable.
What is the most expensive ruby ever sold?
The most valuable ruby in the world also holds the title of most valuable colored gemstone in the world.
The Sunrise Ruby sold at Sotheby’s in Geneva for US$30m in 2015 to an anonymous buyer.
The Sunrise Ruby is a 25.59-carat “pigeon’s blood” ruby, and was originally mined in Myanmar. It is named for a poem by the 13th Century poet, Rumi.
What is the most expensive emerald ever sold?
Two emeralds vye for the position of most valuable emerald in the world.
The first is Elizabeth Taylor’s 23.46-carat emerald and diamond Bulgari pendant, which sold for US$6.6m in 2011.
The second is the equally famous 18.04-carat Rockefeller Emerald, which sold to Harry Winston for US$5.5m in 2017.
Although the total amount paid for the Rockefeller Emerald is still well shy of the Taylor Emerald, it is considerably more valuable on a per carat basis: the Rockefeller Emerald comes in at US$305,000 per carat, while the Taylor Emerald sold for US$280,000 per carat.
How much will a ruby or emerald cost me?
While the price of your ruby or emerald will depend on a few factors, including the Four C’s mentioned above, jewelers typically offer a wide variety of gemstone jewelry.
A ruby or emerald trinket can cost anywhere between a few hundred to several thousand dollars.