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How Do Rubies And Pink Sapphires Differ From Each Other?

The Dramatic Mineral,The Renowned Author,The Reputed Jeweler

By Mark JamesPublished 2 months ago 4 min read

Distinguishing between pink sapphire and ruby stones has been a matter of debate for gem-lovers and gemologists. This conundrum is so complex that renowned gemology associations have different views on the distinction between these precious gemstones. For instance, the Gemological Institute of America, also known as GIA, classifies only those corundum as rubies that have a dominant red hue.

On the contrary, the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) classifies all gem-quality red corundum as rubies, irrespective of the intensity of the red hue in the gemstones. So, what’s the difference between pink sapphires and rubies? Where does one draw the line when it comes to distinguishing pink sapphires from rubies? Let’s try to find answers to these questions in this article.

The Dramatic Mineral

The hardest mineral after diamond, corundum has dramatic gemstone varieties: ruby and sapphire. Ruby is defined as red corundum and all the other gem-quality corundum are considered sapphire. Pink sapphire is one of the most coveted varieties of fancy sapphires. This gemstone gets its color from the trace element chromium in its crystalline structure. The color of pink sapphire gemstones ranges from light red to light purple.

On the other hand, rubies are known for their shades of red. From pinkish, purplish, orangey, brownish to dark red, you can find many varieties of red in rubies. The color of ruby is attributed to the presence of chromium in its crystalline structure. Chromium is one of the several trace elements that can be found in corundum. The others are aluminum, iron and magnesium, which are responsible for various shades.

The Renowned Author

Pink is recognized as pale red. In that sense, why don’t we recognize light blue as a different color from a shade of blue? Well, that’s a debate for another day, but did you know pink was considered ‘light red’ before the 20th century? Today, we consider pink as a different color from red but that’s not how people thought about pink back in the day. According to Richard W. Hughes, the famous American gemologist and author, people used to consider both red and pink stones as rubies in the past times.

In an interview with the International Gem Society (IGS), the renowned gemologist has emphasized that distinguishing between pink sapphire and ruby has something to do with our language. Richard says ‘Interestingly enough, in the Thai language, they divide blue in the same way we divide red. See fah means light blue and see num ngun refers to a deep blue. We don't have a problem with blue sapphire, light or dark, it's still sapphire. But we have a problem with ruby vs. pink sapphire because of our language’.

The First Instance

Many believe distinguishing pale red corundum as pink sapphires began in the late 19th century or over the course of the 20th century. As per Richard, ‘In the late 19th century, someone incorrectly decided that pink is not red, and the problems began’.

The Rhetorical Question

So, how do rubies and pink sapphires differ from each other? Well, the answer to this question depends on your perspective of the color pink. If you find pink to be a different color from red, you can make sharp distinctions between pink sapphire and ruby stones. As per the GIA, if the color of a ruby gemstone is too light, it may be considered pink sapphire. Or, if you find no major difference between the colors of the two gemstones, you can check out their designated certificates of authenticity to figure out which is which.

The Reputed Jeweler

I think the need for distinguishing ruby from pink sapphire arises when you have either of the two gemstones but you’re unconfident about whether it’s a ruby or pink sapphire. That’s one of the reasons why it’s always safer to buy gemstones & jewelry from a reputed jeweler who gives you a certificate of authenticity for your gem or jewelry item.

If you want to buy an authentic ruby or pink sapphire, you can get it from GemsNY, a highly reputed jewelry company in the United States. The company also has its own color grading system for ruby gemstones in various hues and it might actually help you draw a line for differentiating between rubies and pink sapphires.

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About the Creator

Mark James

Mark James is graduated with Honors in English literature. He is an author, an artist and a gem enthusiast. When she isn’t reading fiction or scribbling about gemstones, Mark make severe efforts to impress the clique of stray puppies.

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