Rubies and diamonds are two of the world’s most valuable stones. The ruby’s striking red color makes it an attractive gem. And diamonds have earned the nickname “a girl’s best friend.” How do the two compare and differ? Below we have compared rubies vs diamonds based on color, sparkle, brilliance, hardness, clarity, cut, and price. These are important gemstone characteristics to consider when jewelry shopping.
Difference in Color
The difference in color between ruby vs diamond seems obvious. Aren’t rubies red and diamonds clear? It’s not as simple as that. Color affects value in different ways for rubies and diamonds.
According to GIA, color is the most important factor that influences a ruby’s value. The most valuable rubies are vibrant red to purplish red. If the color is too orangey or purplish, the ruby is less valuable. Vivid color saturation improves a ruby’s value. When the color is too dark, brightness decreases. And if the color is too light, the gemstone is called a pink sapphire instead of a ruby.
Color works differently in diamond. Colored diamonds are more expensive than white/clear diamonds because they are rarer. Color results in a diamond from impurities or structural defects. But because they occur in nature less frequently than clear diamonds, they sell at a higher price. For clear diamonds, the less color they have, the more valuable they are. Clear diamonds have their own color grading scale to help shoppers determine value.
Difference in Sparkle
Cut plays a significant role in a gemstone’s sparkle. Rubies with mixed cut have excellent sparkle. Mixed cut is a combination of the brilliant cut and step cut. The crown is brilliant cut for enhanced sparkle, and the pavilion is step cut to reduce weight and enhance color. Diamonds have good sparkle, which is one of the reasons they are in high demand. If sparkle is important to you in a diamond, you’ll want to buy a diamond ranked as very good or excellent cut.
Difference in Brilliance
Brilliance is an important factor in determining value of a ruby. With better brilliance comes a higher price. Brilliance in a ruby is light refracted and reflected from the facets. One of the similarities between ruby vs diamond is cut impacts brilliance. If a diamond’s cut is too shallow, light escapes through the bottom. And when a diamond’s cut is too deep, light leaks out of the opposite side of the diamond. All diamonds have at least a decent amount of brilliance. The lowest cut grade for diamonds, fair, has decent brilliance. For good brilliance and above, diamonds are rated very good, excellent, ideal, or super ideal.
Difference in Hardness
Ruby is among the second hardest gemstones. And as many people know, diamond is the hardest gemstone. Which gem is better in terms of hardness between ruby vs diamond is a clear answer in this category. Diamond ranks a 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness, whereas ruby is a 9. Hardness indicates how resistant a gemstone is to scratches. Therefore, diamonds are more resistant to scratching than rubies.
Difference in Clarity
Most rubies have some level of inclusions. It’s extremely rare to find a ruby that doesn’t have inclusions. How visible the inclusions are in a ruby affects its value. Diamond has better clarity between ruby vs diamond because it’s not as difficult to find diamonds free of inclusions. However, inclusion-free diamonds are still rare and thus more expensive than diamonds with inclusions. Diamonds have a grading system in which they are ranked to give customers an idea of how many inclusions there are. In a sense, as long as a gemstone is eye clean, meaning the inclusions aren’t visible to the naked eye, it doesn’t matter how much clarity it has.
Any inclusions in a ruby that reduces brightness or transparency lower its value. Visible inclusions to the naked eye also decrease a ruby’s value. Another problem with inclusions in a ruby is it can decrease the gem’s durability. Interestingly, some inclusions in a ruby add beauty to the gemstone. For instance, an inclusion called rutile silk scatters light across facets that may be too dark. This spreads the color more evenly in the ruby.
Difference in Cut
A major difference between ruby vs diamond when it comes to cut is rubies are usually cut into ovals or cushions. Diamonds are typically cut as a round gemstone. However, they’re also available in oval, cushion, and other cuts. Likewise, rubies come in round cuts too. They’re not as common in round cut as other cuts because it makes them more expensive. Cutting a ruby round involves removing more of the rough, which is what increases the cost.
Difference in Price
Among colored gemstones, rubies have some of the highest prices. Per-carat prices of rubies broke auction records several times. Its price has a tendency to consistently increase. Small differences in the color of a ruby sometimes makes significant differences in value. Eye clean top color rubies are expensive. Larger rubies are often more expensive than small rubies as well.
As clarity increases in a diamond, so does its value. Larger diamonds are usually more expensive than small diamonds because large diamonds occur less frequently in nature. The price of diamonds vary greatly due to differences in quality. Diamonds cost around $1,000, but you can find them both under and over $1,000. You can still find a good quality diamond for a few hundred dollars. Rubies also vary widely in price. They can cost $100-$15,000 per carat.
The Bottom Line
The choice between ruby vs diamond is a personal one. Both are beautiful gemstones. You may decide to have both types of jewelry in your collection. Rubies are fairly hard gemstones, so they won’t scratch easily. There are high-end rubies available for those with expensive taste as well as less expensive rubies for those on a budget. When it comes to durability and value, a diamond is the better stone. But rubies come close.
Which gemstone do you prefer?