Rubies are Red, Sapphires are Blue (and Green, Purple, Orange, Yellow, Black and Pink, too!)


Diamond and Sapphire Wedding Ring

Sapphires Make This Wedding Ring Sing

Many people don’t know that rubies and sapphires belong to the same gem family, which is called corundum.

It’s All in the Family

Fun Fact; the source of the name sapphire is the Greek “Saphiros” which means blue. When they figured out that ruby was a corundum they gave it its own name from the latin Rubeus which means red.

So Many Sapphire Colors

Skull Ring with Colored Sapphires

Check Out all the Colors of Sapphire on this Skull Ring

Nowadays “sapphire” is the term used to describe every color of corundum other than red. Red corundum is always referred to as “Ruby.”

Once all the other colors of corundums were discovered and gained popularity it was decided to use the word sapphire with the color in front of it for each color of corundum.

So when you ask for a yellow sapphire you’re really saying, “may I have a yellow blue?” I love that little bit of jewelry trivia.

Corundums come in all different colors, ranging from yellow, orange, pink, and red, to violet, purple, and blue.

Chemistry Effects the Color Tones in Corundum/Sapphire

Chemically speaking, sapphire and ruby are both aluminum oxide. It’s the trace elements that give them their diverse colors.

For instance, chrome produces pink colors in sapphire; vanadium produces violet; and iron and titanium produce blue.

Sapphires use Names of Their Origins, too

Ruby unfaceted ring

Yummy Rubies

Rubies and sapphires can also be categorized by their origin. Ceylon sapphires come from Ceylon (even though the country is now known as called Sri Lanka).

Burmese stones originate from…you guessed it: Burma, now called Myanmar. At one time importing gems from Myanmar was illegal due to human rights abuses.

On October 7th, 2016, President Obama signed an Executive Order, effectively removing all sanctions on the importation of gemstones from Myanmar. It is now legal to import all gemstones, including ruby and jadeite, from Myanmar.

Are There Sapphire and Rubies born in the USA? You betcha

While Rubies and Sapphires from Sri Lanka and Myanmar often appeal to those with an exotic nature, the ​Vortex mine in Montana​, is a great American source of Sapphires, which it produces using green mining techniques.

These little beauties, referred to as “Yogo Sapphires,” have come across my desk many times.

Corundums are Hard…and Valuable

The hardness of a gemstone is a very misunderstood property. The word “hardness” in gemology differs considerably from its everyday usage. The scientific definition of hardness in gemstones refers to its ability to resist scratching, and nothing more.

On the Mohs scale (gemstone hardness scale), Corundum has a hardness of 9, second only to diamond with a hardness of 10. Because rubies and sapphires are so hard and resistant to scratching, they make great choices for all types of jewelry exposed to everyday wear.

This unique wearability factor, combined with their rarity and brilliant colors make rubies and sapphires some of the most valuable gemstones.

Calla says …

There is a rainbow of Corundum waiting for you. Ready to bring some color into your life?

Your Personal Jeweler,
Calla Gold

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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11 years ago

Sapphires/ Rubies have always been my favorites, waaaay above diamonds as I love color. Even colorful comments! Even more than that, I love etymology so thanks Calla Gold for sharing the info about Saphiros. Those Greeks keep contributing to our lexicon!

Dr. Lynn K. Jones
11 years ago

This was full of interesting factoids. Especially that about Mohs scale! Well, I am certainly a fan of sapphires and rubies…but now I know more about them than most! Thanks for the info share! Great stuff.

alexander stephen
alexander stephen
6 years ago

The blog was really informative and added more to my knowledge.