Ruby and garnet at first glance often are mistaken for one another. They are both prized for their beauty and durability. They are both rich, red-coloured gemstones. But, on closer examination, they are very different stones with completely different chemical compositions and qualities.
In this article, Ruby vs Garnet, we look at the similarities and the differences in these two gemstones, so you may be able to more confidently spot which is which when you see the gemstone.
Ruby vs Garnet
Whilst both gemstones are deep red in colour, rubies are a bright red, with a blue or blue-purple hue. The most prized colour in a ruby is called a “pigeon blood red”. Rubies have a more fiery hue to them.
Garnets, on the other hand, are a very deep, dark red, but can also be orange, yellow or green in colour.
If you see a flash of more orange colouring in the gemstone, it will normally be a garnet and not a ruby.
Ruby absorbs most green and yellow colours in the spectrum and so will not reflect these colours out, whereas a garnet will.
Rubies are clear and more transparent than the more opaque-looking garnets.
It is very rare to find large rubies – indeed a ruby over 1-carat weight is extremely rare. This is not the case with garnets – their abundance makes them cheaper and more widespread than ruby.
A ruby is an extremely hard gemstone, measuring 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. This makes them extremely hard-wearing and perfect for jewellery.
Whilst not a soft gemstone, garnets have a Mohs score of 6 ½ to 7 ½ and so more care is needed with these gemstones. Whilst perfect for earrings, or necklaces, more consideration may be needed when wearing and storing a garnet ring.
Rubies are rarer, particularly larger stones, and therefore demand a higher price than garnet.
As garnets are more easy to come by, they are less sought-after than ruby, although there are rarer forms of garnet, such as the brilliant green Demantoid garnet, which fetch a high price.
The vibrant red colour of a ruby is due to the chromium in the chemical composition of the mineral. Aluminium oxide (corundum) is the main constituent of ruby with chromium in varying degrees.
Garnet is a silicate with calcium and aluminium.
Each of the varying colours of garnet have differing chemical compositions – read our article on Garnet – The Birthstone for January if you want to know more about this.
Rubies originate from Afghanistan, Thailand and Madagascar.
Garnets are mined in the United States, Africa and South America.
Ruby is for love, passion and energy.
Garnet is for strength, perseverance, business success, loyalty.
Both ruby and garnet are beautiful, desirable gemstones to own and wear. Both are a fabulous red colour and will brighten any outfit.
The ruby is a brighter, clearer colour than the deep, opaque red of the most commonly seen pyrope garnet, therefore ruby may be your preferred option if you desire a brighter red stone.
Ruling out birthstones (Ruby is the birthstone for July, Garnet is for January babies), you will find ruby a stronger, more durable gemstone than garnet – although a garnet is perfectly strong enough to wear as jewellery.
The ruby will have a heftier price tag than the garnet. Garnet, being the least costly of the two, may be a better choice for the cost-conscious (unless it’s one of the rarest green garnets). Therefore, if you’re after a red gemstone but don’t want to stretch to the cost of a ruby, a garnet may be the perfect choice.
If you like your gemstones “natural” and not treated, almost all garnets on the market are not heat-treated or colour-enhanced. On the other hand, many rubies are.
The bottom line is personal preference – both ruby and garnet are beautiful gemstones and you may even decide to go for both a ruby and a garnet!
After all, you can never have enough gemstones!