You were confused if your birthstone is garnet or ruby? We take a closer look at these gemstones to find out how they differ, so you can select the gem that is truly right for you.
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Garnet vs. Ruby
Garnet is the beautiful birthstone for those born in January. It is a type of mineral that grows in magma chambers and metamorphic rocks. The majority of people think garnet is a blood-red stone, much like rubies, which confuses many people.
What is Garnet?
What is surprising here is that garnet occurs in various colors, from pinks to violets to light green. Red garnets are just one type of the mineral’s color family. The most common sub-types of minerals found in the garnet family include spessartine, uvarovite, and almandine. There is a full list of hues to choose from: red, yellow, purple, brown, green, pink, etc.
Please take note that the members of the garnet family are chemically different from one another, so their physical appearances and properties also differ from one another. Subtler traits like specific gravity differ from one another if you take a closer look at the garnet family.
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What about rubies?
The enigmatic ruby and the royal sapphire are both from the corundum family, meaning they are both comprised of the same mineral. It is the outspoken birthstone for those born in July. Sapphires and rubies have identical chemical compositions, and their crystalline structures are also alike. What differentiates sapphires and rubies are the trace impurities that can be found inside. Changes in the pollutants result in a different color.
So rubies and sapphires are incomparable to garnets because they have different chemical and crystalline structures. Gem corundum also comes in a plethora of colors. With subtle changes in the impurities, you can get yellow, green, pink, orange, and even violet sapphires and rubies.
There are individual differences between garnet and ruby that will help you distinguish between the two. Usually, people struggle with differentiating between minerals because their sole basis is the color. Unfortunately, a lot of crystals occur in a multitude of colors because mineral structures react similarly to chemical impurities. Don’t worry; we’re going to teach you how minerals can be differentiated from one another.
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Stones in the Rough
Garnets and rubies differ from one another when they have not been cut and polished yet. Unpolished garnets are nearly indistinguishable from the cut and polished ones. Unpolished rubies, on the other hand, will exhibit a deep and characteristic color that identifies them immediately as rubies.
This is one of the less exciting aspects of gemstones but can help you differentiate not just rubies and garnets, but also other gemstones. The general test for durability for crystals is called the Mohs hardness scale. Rubies are among the toughest minerals, and it ranks a solid nine on the Mohs scale.
Garnet, on the other hand, isn’t shabby at all because it scores anywhere from 6.5 to a formidable 7.5. Compared to rubies, garnet seems less durable, but in reality, scoring a 7.5 means garnet can be used for abrasive industrial purposes. If rubies were cheaper, they would be used for industrial purposes, too. Still, they are among the most expensive gemstones, so it’s not practical to use rubies for industrial abrasive products.
Color is the ultimate visual test for minerals or gemstones. While a highly polished garnet can present a deep red shade that is perfect for any jewelry setting, the color quality of rubies is unmatched.
Rubies will appear in an even deeper tone of red. Another way to tell by looking at the stone’s color is the bare-eye presence of impurities in the stone. If you happen to speak or speckles of other colors within the gemstones when you bring it to eye level, you are most likely holding a garnet and not a ruby. Use this secondary visual test in a scorecard, however, because sometimes rubies also present impurities.
This is another visual test that requires the presence of natural light. Natural light is still best for checking out the crystalline structure of minerals, and how they reflect the different wavelengths of light. If you hold up the metal to the sun and you see a rainbow conflagration of colors, you are likely holding a garnet and not a ruby.
When you hold up a ruby to natural light, it will not reflect a lot of colors because it bends and absorbs greens and yellows, so there will be fewer colors (if at all), and the difference between the two crystals will be highly apparent.
Hands down, rubies are rare than garnets. They are so unique that the most significant pieces cost millions of dollars easily in auctions. Garnets, on the other hand, are abundant, except for the green ones.
Rubies tend to show different kinds of internal inclusions, and these are generally accepted as natural facets of the mineral. Garnets, on the other hand, are almost always eye-clean, save for specks of color inside. Physical imperfections in crystals are usually resolved with heat treatments, polishing, drilling, and cutting (and this applies to more expensive gemstones as well, like diamonds).
More than 90% of rubies are heat-treated or irradiated to increase the depth of the color and improve their visual clarity. Garnets, because they tend to lack the usual inclusions and imperfections, are virtually 100% non-treated. This means that garnets do not undergo irradiation and other conventional treatments.
Rubies will naturally be more expensive than garnets. High-quality ruby can be sold for as much as five thousand dollars to fifteen thousand dollars, while on a good day, garnets can fetch anywhere from four hundred dollars to three thousand dollars per carat. While garnet isn’t shabby in terms of value, much more value is associated with rubies than garnets. With this in mind, garnets are more affordable than ruby, if you are looking for a gemstone that has some of the qualities of sapphires and rubies.