It's red, it's gorgeous, and it can be very expensive! In fact, in the top qualities, it's more expensive than top quality diamonds.
We're talking about ruby, of course.
From ancient times right through today, ruby has been the world's most valued gemstone. According to the Bible, wisdom is the thing that is "more precious than rubies."
Rubies occur many places around the world, but they are still "few and far between."
Most of the world's fine rubies are mined in Africa and Asia.
African rubies come from Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Madagascar. Most of the African mines have been discovered within the last fifty years. Expect more ruby deposits to be discovered in this region.
In Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Vietnam, Thailand (Siam), and Myanmar (Burma) all produce some fine rubies. The most famous source of fine rubies is the mining district still known to the world as Mogok, Burma.
Even though Burma is now known as Myanmar, the name Burmese Rubies lives on, representing the best in rubies. The name now has more to do with the color than with geography.
Burmese Rubies are a pure red with a hint of blue. Other ruby colors are described as pinkish-red, orange-red, purplish-red, and brownish-red. All of them are beautiful. The most beautiful depends on your personal preference.
Rubies almost always have inclusions in them. The size, location, and number of inclusions has a significant impact on the value of a ruby. Other factors are size of the stone, and of course, color.
When shopping for rubies be on guard against synthetic (laboratory grown) and artificial (glass, plastic) stones.
Also, some other beautiful red gems are sometimes called rubies. For instance…
Arizona ruby is really Ant Hill Garnet (Pyrope)
Australian Ruby is Garnet
Garnet Ruby is Garnet
Spinel Ruby is Spinel
Siberian Ruby is Tourmaline
While these red gems have qualities to recommend them as jewelry and collector stones, they aren't as hard as ruby, and they aren't as valuable, quality for quality.
It always pays to know your dealer and get a guarantee.
The supply of tanzanite rough continues to dwindle… and the price continues to spiral upward. This has been going on for a couple of years now, and could go on for several more.
Because tanzanite is mined in only one region, the supply is easily slowed or stopped by local and regional events.
In April 1998, the mines were inundated by violent floodwaters, killing many miners. This tragic event shut off the supply of tanzanite for many months.
Last year a large explosion at one mine slowed production at all the mines, as regulators reviewed industry practices related to blasting.
Now significant economic problems in the region are motivating miners to hold on to most of their rough as a hedge against inflation.
Low supply and high demand. It is the classic formula for steadily increasing prices. I'm resisting the increases as best I can, by buying older stocks of tanzanite from other dealers.
We're now getting to the point where these secondary supplies are becoming exhausted.
Last week I sold three tanzanites at my usual markup. Tanzanite prices have risen so much in the past year that for the last two months, I've been selling them cheaper than I can now buy them!
Tanzanite will be scarce on the AZGem website for a while. We'll concentrate on selling you other fine gems, gems that give you better value for your money.
An example of a fine gem that delivers beauty and value is Exotic Pink Tourmaline. Click here to visit the AZGem Tourmaline page.
Next month, we'll explore other gems with a short supply and large demand.
Until next month… please, visit me anytime at AZGem.com for a great selection of colored gems at great prices.