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Rubies might not be the first stone that comes to mind when thinking about an engagement ring, but they have a long history of symbolizing love, courage, passion, and protection. About as distinguished as you can get, rubies were once the stones of ancient kings and queens, making a ruby engagement ring an entirely regal choice. Besides, who doesn't want to look down at their hand and feel like royalty?
What is a Ruby?
Ruby is a gemstone that ranges in color from bright cherry-red to dark reddish-brown, and they get their color from the trace element, Chromium. The most popular hue is blood-red with blue and purple undertones (these are known as Burmese and pigeon's blood rubies).
In terms of feeling fresh and modern, ruby engagement rings are entirely in line with the untraditional ring styles modern brides crave—from unique settings to contemporary shapes and, of course, gemstones. Read on to learn more about why you should consider a ruby for your engagement ring stone.
Meet the Expert
In 2008, Anna Bario and Page Neal launched Bario Neal—a woman-owned, ethical jeweler moving the industry towards sustainability with one handmade piece at a time. They have become an industry leader in ethical sourcing and progressive manufacturing, best known for its design sensibility and high-quality, handcrafted work. You can view their work on Instagram or their website.
Pros and Cons of Ruby Engagement Rings
While most precious gems are much softer than diamonds, rubies are a lot more resilient than other gemstones, making them an excellent choice for an engagement ring you will treasure forever. In fact, rubies come second to the diamond on the Mohs Hardness scale (rubies have a 9 while diamonds have the highest rating with a 10).
Rubies also make for a a one-of-a-kind ring that reflects your personality. "We often tell clients that one of the best ways to choose an engagement ring is to find a stone you intuitively connect with," says Anna Bario, co-founder of Bario Neal. Many of our clients prefer the more vibrant-colored gemstones to the more traditional diamond engagement rings. Our advice is to always follow your intuition and you can never go wrong!"
There are many reasons to lust after a ruby engagement ring, but one thing to consider is that the gemstone comes at a cost. If you want the highest quality ruby—Burmese or "Pigeon's Blood Red"—it will come with a heftier price tag. That doesn't mean rubies are completely out of the question if you are looking for a more cost-efficient ring. There is a wide range of colors that rubies come in, all with different price points.
If you're not fully committed to going for a red-hued center stone, consider a ruby to serve as a side or accent stones in a three-stone ring or cluster design.
What to Look for in a Ruby Engagement Ring
- What stone cut works best with rubies? The most common cut for a ruby is round or oval. This type of cut tends to bring out deeper shades of red in the gemstone. Octagon, pear, and marquise are also all popular cuts for rubies though they tend to cost a bit more.
- What settings and metals work best with rubies? "Rubies are quite versatile. They’re strong stones, second in hardness only to diamonds and moissanite—so they’re not limited as far as settings go. Just make sure your stone is set so that light can get through underneath, revealing its true color! We’ve set rubies in all metal colors, and although it’s hard to pick a favorite, there’s something special about seeing them set in rose gold or 18kt fairmined yellow gold," says Page Neal, Bario Neal's other co-founder.
- What are the different types of rubies? "Rubies range in color, from pink to orange to red. Their color is based on their origin; for example, Bangkok rubies are dark in color due to the presence of Iron and Chromium," explains Bario. All shades are unique in their own way, so it all comes down to personal preference when choosing a type of ruby.
How to Care for a Ruby Engagement Ring
Neal recommends that it's best to have your jewelry professionally cleaned by Bario Neal or another jeweler. If you are in a pinch for time, though, a home cleaning is okay as well. "For a simple cleaning at home, we recommend mixing dish soap in warm water, soaking your ring or other jewelry for five minutes, and using a soft-bristled baby toothbrush to gently clean behind stones or settings. Air dry, then finish with a polishing cloth," shares Neal.
Sold on a ruby engagement ring? Ahead, scroll through our favorite spectacular styles for every taste and budget.
This custom Bario Neal ring is a twist on tradition. The ruby stones are complemented by garnet and morganite for a romantic and unforgettable design. The stones are set on a 14K rose gold band with a matte finish.
Rubies can offer so much potential for playing with shapes and colors. This stunning cluster ring brings together one bold ruby, paired with pink sapphires, and champagne diamonds for a one-of-a-kind look.
This ring features a single ruby held in a white diamond halo setting. The pavé band is crafted in 14K rose gold with a polish finish.
Pear-cut stones create an elongating effect on a finger in the most stunning way. And with a diamond halo and pavé band, this ring is super sparkly.
This Burmese ruby is nothing short of stunning, showcased in a three-stone setting. We love the use of an 18K gold band, paired with a gold claw setting to bring together a gorgeous look.
Who says a ruby needs to be big and bold? This ring is dainty, but it packs a beautiful punch with a single ruby and two diamonds off to either side.
What a way to make a statement! This dark red ruby is set between two trapezium diamonds, all brought together by a stunning claw setting in platinum.
We love the way a pavé band leads to a stunning pear-shaped ruby on this ring. And with it set in rose gold, it brings in the tiniest bit of a vintage vibe.
There's something so special about mixing metals, especially when it comes to a claw setting. The gold plays its part in making this stunning cushion-cut ruby stand out in this beautiful design.
Who says you can only have one ruby in your ring? This one-of-a-kind design breaks all the rules, in the best way. With one large center ruby, surrounded by multiple mixed cut rubies, this rose gold ring is absolutely stunning.
Add a splash of color to your ring finger by mixing stones. This thin gold band features an oval ruby, but it also brings in two tanzanites and six little diamonds to round out a beautiful look.
This argyle design is so unique and so sparkly! With rubies and diamonds set to create a pattern in white gold, this ring is playfully gorgeous.
Not all rubies need to be loud and proud. Go for a simpler look with a beautiful gold setting. We love the way this unique ring utilizes an octagonal shape to stand out.
Doesn't this ring just feel like it's fit for royalty? With a floral-shaped ruby, surrounded by diamonds, this gives off such an art deco vibe.
Make a regal statement with this stunner. We love the purple hue of this 1.66-carat ruby, paired with a contrasting gold and diamond halo.
Even if you don't want a ruby to be the star of the show, there are still unique ways to incorporate this stunning stone. This cluster ring pairs gray diamonds and one lovely ruby for a beautiful design.
Take a classic princess-cut diamond and switch it up. This white gold ring, with a center ruby stone and diamonds all the way around, is so special.
An East-West ring can be such a special option, but a stunning ruby takes it to a whole new level. We love the double-band in gold with an oval-cut ruby for a unique, bespoke look.
Shine in true Tiffany's fashion with this stunning ring. With not one, but two, rows of diamonds surrounding this gorgeous ruby, this ring is sure to be a show-stopper
Make a statement with a uniquely shaped stone. This offset .4-carat ruby truly stands out with a special marquise cut. Paired with rose gold, this setting makes for a bold design.
Ruby stones pair perfectly with rose gold to create a gorgeous, vintage look. This ring brings even more of a vintage feel with a stunning oval-cut stone surrounded by a diamond halo, complete with a pavé band.
Adding a diamond halo around a ruby can create such a regal look. But this ring takes that one step further with a stunning marquise-cut stone and a double yellow gold band.
Make a ruby the star of the show, but add a few diamonds for good measure. This oval-cut ruby makes a statement, but with the addition of multi-cut diamonds on either side, it's truly one-of-a-kind.