Of all the colours in the spectrum red is the most eye-catching and the one that demands respect (a red fire engine or red traffic light) and, whether clothing (Julia Roberts’ stunning red dress in Pretty Woman) or gemstones be they necklaces, pendants, earrings, bracelets or rings, draw attention to the wearer.
If red is your favourite colour you probably know every red gemstone there is but if you do not know the different types of red rocks and stones used in jewellery here is a short list beginning with the one that is most associated with the colour red, namely, the Ruby that gets its name from the Latin ‘rubeus’ meaning ‘red’.
Ruby is a sister stone to sapphire because they belong in the same family, i.e. the mineral group conundrum differentiating only in colour. As with most coloured gemstones, the richer and clearer (clarity) the colour the more expensive the Ruby is. It is the birthstone for July.
Second in line is one of the rarest of all the red rocks, the Red Diamond, rare because only they are in extremely short supply, only a few known to exist and those that are known are quite small. The Diamond and the hardest of all gemstones is the birthstone for April.
Third on the list, though it maybe should be in the second spot because of its earlier erroneous identification as a Ruby, is the Red Spinel, once identified as a spinel-ruby. Then, with the advent of modern science the mistake became clear and the Red Spinel was recognized in its own right as an individual gem no relation to the ruby yet, even today, it is often substituted for a Ruby.
Fourth on the list is the Red Beryl (formerly known as Bixbite) which, like the Red Diamond, is also one of the rarest of all red rocks and therefore one of the most expensive of all coloured gemstones. Its rarity may be due to the fact that it is found in only two places on earth: the US states of Utah and New Mexico. It is the birthstone for the zodiac sign Scorpio.
Fifth on the list is the stunningly beautiful Fire Opal from Mexico. Like the Red Diamond and the Red Beryl, the Fire Opal is another extremely rare red gemstone of great value and an expected high price tag, but well worth it because they are so beautiful and eye-catching. Opals are the traditional and modern birthstones for the month of October.
Sixth on the list is the Imperial Topaz and in red the rarest and therefore most valuable and expensive of all varieties of Topaz. Unfortunately, though, these red rocks are hardly ever found. Topaz is one of November’s birthstones.
Seventh in line is the Red Zircon (known as hyacinth). I say not necessarily 6th because they have almost the same hardness as diamonds with a similar brilliance and are often used as substitutes for diamonds at a much lower cost. Zircon is one of the modern birthstones for December.
Eighth in line is the Red Garnet, the traditional and modern birthstone for the month of January.
Also on this list though again of no particular number but because I like it, is the beautiful Red Fluorite, red being the less common of all Fluorite’s colours. Its flaw, however, is its softness which, therefore, makes it unsuitable for most jewellery pieces.
In addition to those above there are several others that are called red gemstones but because of banding or striping, e.g. Red Agate, Sardonyx (another type of Agate), Red Sunstone, and Red Jasper I see them as not true reds and therefore do not belong on the above list, just as Rubellite (a Tourmaline) and Pezzottaite (the Beryl family of gems) are not on the list because their colours are more raspberry or purplish-pink rather than a true red.
Also eliminated from the list is recently discovered Andesine (belonging to the feldspar group of minerals) because of the controversy or suspicion surrounding it that it is not a true red gem but rather an elaborately enhanced labradorite whose colours are blue and green. And lastly but by no means least, Coral which, by its very name, precludes it from the list but which also should stay where it’s at, in the sea rather than harvested for jewellery.
For further information on any of these gemstones, please contact LL Private Jewellers. In fact, you should see them first, before you buy any red gemstone, because of the rampant duplicity in the marketplace where the genuine article has been substituted with a look-alike whether out of ignorance or greed, as in the old saying, “All that glitters is not gold” so a red stone might look like a ruby but be a chunk of red glass.
For more information about any red gemstones, please contact LL Private jewelles at 604-684-6343.