Red Rubies Versus Rubellites

Red Gemstones: Rubellite Vs Ruby


Pink to deep-red gemstones, rubies are a part of the ‘big four’, the four precious gemstones that make up a vast majority of the world’s fine jewelry. Rubellites, on the other hand, are a pink to red variety of the Tourmaline family, a category of semi-precious stones available in almost every color of the spectrum. So what distinguishes these two red gemstones from each other? Despite their similar appearance, Rubellite and Ruby belong to different gemstone groups. Now we will discuss other differences between Rubellite Vs Ruby.

What Are The Differences Between Rubellite Vs Ruby?

As mentioned earlier, the main difference between Rubellite and Ruby is, that it comes from different gemstone groups. Rubies come from the mineral group known as corundum. In its true form, corundum is colorless but when colored with traces of chromium, it becomes a ruby. In contrast, rubellites are classified as an intense pink, violet-tinged, or crimson red tourmaline, a semi-precious stone that is often used as a substitute for real rubies. Being semi-precious stones, rubellites fetch a more affordable price as compared to deep-colored, coveted varieties of rubies such as Burmese rubies.

Properties of Rubies

Rubies are mostly found as faceted stones, however, they also make great cabochon gemstones. A variety of rubies known as star rubies is especially dedicated to the cabochon cut, due to special rutile inclusions that showcase a rare phenomenon known as Asterism.  

2.01 carat oval-cut Mozambique Ruby
Pictured above is a  2.01 carat oval-cut Mozambique Ruby. The king of red gemstones, this fine gem is available from our loose gemstones catalog.

Technically, rubies have a higher Mohs scale rating as compared to rubellites, standing at 9 in contrast to a rating of 7 to 7.5 for Tourmalines. Rubies also have a higher density as compared to rubellites. As far as the coloration of these rouge colored stones is concerned, rubies have a more striking red undertone as compared to the slightly darker, purple-tinged undertone of rubellites.Rubies are sourced from Myanmar, Thailand, Mozambique and smaller deposits in India, Pakistan and Nepal along the Himalayan range.

Historically, rubies have been around for a long time, having been mentioned in the Bible and used as a cardinal stone and especially a popular choice for use in coronation jewelry. These red gemstones are often associated with royalty, and have served as a symbol of status, power and passion for centuries and have come to be known as the ‘king of gems’ as translated from the Sanskrit term for it.

Properties of Rubellites

Rubellites come with a special exception in that only rich hued pink and red tourmalines that do not show signs of color change when subjected to different types of light are fit to be categorised as rubellites. Have a look at these rubellite earrings and see how the two are identical.

 oval-cut rubellite
Pink to deep red tourmalines that do not change color under both artificial and natural lighting qualify as rubellites. Here we have an oval-cut rubellite set in a double halo style ring from our rings collection.

Technically, rubellites have a lower Moh’s scale rating as compared to rubies, standing at a rating of 7 to 7.5 for all types of Tourmalines.Rubellites are mainly mined in Brazil, from where the best variety hails, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria and Pakistan.

Rubellites are shaped in a similar fashion to rubies, available in faceted, cabochons and other special, custom styles such as the sugar loaf cut. Whilst, rubies have been widely revered for centuries, rubellites are a modern alternative. However this may just be a misconception as most red gemstones were often mislabeled and confused for rubies and another red stone known as Spinel. A rubellite specimen known as ‘Caesar’s ruby’,a gift given by the Roman general to Cleopatra, was identified as a rubellite in the 20th century when gemstone testing became more common and efficient.

Rubellite Vs Ruby – Conclusion

Surprisingly, both rubies and rubellites are revered for the presence of inclusions in them. This is considered beneficial as it makes it easier to discern them from synthetic, blemishless varieties. While fine quality rubies fetch a premium price, the highest for any colored stone at times, rubellites are much rarer than rubies. This is because not every pink or red toned tourmaline can qualify as a rubellite, as discussed earlier. 

Both rubies and rubellites are subject to heat treatments, and so the ones with at least some minimal inclusions and slight difference in shading, as in case of rubies, are welcomed. See how the inclusions in these ruby earrings make them easily discernable as natural. Even though rubellites get their name from rubies and are used as an alternative stone to the precious gem, they stand out on their own as well. 

All in all, both these beautiful red gemstones are an asset to the jewelry industry all over the globe. We stock both rubies and rubellites as part of our loose gemstones catalogue. We also offer customised services where you can pick a gem of your liking and have us create personalized jewelry according to your requirements. For more details visit