Valentine's Day ideas: red gems
If you are shopping for a red gemstone for Valentine’s Day, there are several intriguing choices available, and one is bound to be right for you. Coloured stone experts at GIA (Gemological Institute of America), the world’s foremost authority in gemmology, provide the following insightful glimpses into four of the most popular red gemstone choices:
Ruby: king of red gemstones
Mined in exotic locales around the world—including Myanmar, Madagascar, East Africa and Sri Lanka—the ruby is the undisputed king of red gems. Ruby offers a distinctive range of red hues that vary from light (pinkish) to dark, velvety reds, and hits a brighter red in between. And ruby is very hard, second only to diamond in hardness (resistance to scratching).
What’s the best ruby shade? It’s the one that speaks to you, as the potential wearer of this appealing gem. View the spectrum of red hues, and see which one suits you best. Bear in mind that vivid rubies are considered to the of the highest quality, but they are rare and will thus be more expensive.
Spinel: the great pretender
GIA’s coloured stone experts point out that quite a few famous “rubies” in royal jewels throughout the world are actually spinels — some even reside in the British Crown Jewels. Spinel has been mistaken for ruby for centuries.
Now that it has come into its own, spinel fans love its brilliance and hardness. They are also captivated by its rich reds, although the gem appears in a spectrum of other colours. Spinel is a durable gem that is affordable but also uncommon. It’s mined in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Tajikistan (part of the former Soviet Union) and Vietnam.
Garnet: the popular gem
Although garnets appear in many colours, red is the most admired. It’s also plentiful and affordable. Garnet is very durable, so it’s ideal for daily wear.
The three species of red garnet are almandine, rhodolite and pyrope. Almandine garnet is a medium-red colour. Rhodolite is found in red with purple or raspberry overtones. Pyrope, from the Greek word pyropus meaning “fiery-eyed”, is the darkest red garnet. The finest specimens have a glowing red colour. Garnets are mined in East Africa, India and Sri Lanka .
Tourmaline: a colourful character
This colourful gemstone occurs in more colours and colour combinations than any other gemstone variety, according to GIA. In the tourmaline family, a red gemstone is referred to as a rubellite. Widely available, rubellites also come in larger sizes, making them a favourite choice for contemporary jewellery. Important sources of rubellite are Brazil and Nigeria.
When shopping for gemstones, it’s advisable to go to a jewelleer who has credentials from GIA, such as a Graduate Gemmologist (GG) or Accredited Jewellery Professional (AJP). GIA also offers identification reports on gemstones, including those discussed here, to verify their authenticity.