RUBIES AND SAPPHIRES
Rubies & Sapphires are paired in Fred Ward's new book because they belong together. Even though they appear to be vastly different, they are actually color variations of the same thing, the mineral species corundum, which is aluminum oxide. Rubies and sapphires are fraternal twins, chemically the same except for minute amounts of trace elements that produce different colors. Sapphires occur in every color of the rainbow but one, because if corundum crystals are red, they are known as rubies. Rubies are always red, but sapphires can be blue as well as pink, yellow, green, black, colorless, orange, teal, and lavender.
Much of the allure of sapphires is the number of available colors. One of the unfortunate legacies of a huge marketing effort in the 1960s, when Australia's almost-black sapphires became available, is the mistaken notion that sapphires should be dark. That advertising gimmick caused buyers to seek dreary, opaque inexpensive dull stones. In his book Fred Ward recommends buying only bright and beautiful sapphires, such as the ones in the array at right from Sri Lanka. Shop for blue sapphires that appear blue in room light at night. If they die under artificial light avoid them. All the stones here except the red rubies are sapphires. Notice the different shades of blue as well as the brilliant yellow sapphires. Because they are rarer, rubies cost more than sapphires, which remain the bargains of the four major gemstones. The highest sapphire prices begin with the finer blues and for a very special peachy-pink gem from Sri Lanka, known as "Padparadscha." Prices then decrease as you move from pink to orange, violet, yellow, and green sapphires.
Rubies & sapphires occur in a number of countries. Burma (Myanmar) is most famous as a source for both. Burmese rubies and sapphires fetch a premium in the market because of their perceived superior colors. Burma ruby prices soared during the 1980s and only recently abated because of a new discovery at Mong Hsu. Rubies are also found in Thailand, Cambodia, Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, India, and in a small non-commercial deposit in North Carolina. Sapphires are mined commercially in Thailand, Australia, China, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, and, surprisingly, in Montana. In fact, as pointed out in our new book, Montana is one of the gem trade's best-kept secrets. Large quantities of very colorful sapphires are quietly produced in the U.S. Most are sold and cut overseas, only to reenter the market as Thai or Australian sapphires. Because sapphires are relatively plentiful, they are somewhat easier to match than other colored gemstones. Only Montana and the mining area around Umba in Tanzania produce enough richly varicolored sapphires to produce a rainbow tennis bracelet set entirely with sapphires. This example was made with a brilliant array of Montana sapphires. Similar bracelets are available from Fred Ward.
Rubies & Sapphires are ideal gems, harder than all others except diamonds. They possess a high refractive index, making them both durable and brilliant, sure to give a lifetime of satisfaction.
For maximum color impact, nothing excels over rubies. Often expensive, their price is justified because rubies are at least 50 times rarer than equivalent diamonds yet priced at only a small premium. If rubies, diamonds, and emeralds stretch your budget, consider sapphires. Sapphires offer colors unavailable with the other major gems. To facilitate owning quality, fairly-priced gems and jewelry, Mr. Ward conducts custom gem searches for clients. If you would like to have quality rubies, sapphires, or other fine gemstones, contact Fred Ward directly.