Monday, January 24, 2011

Ruby: a multifaceted gemstone

Just as rubies from across the globe occur in various shades of red so also they are cut in a dazzling array of shapes and styles. Ruby beads are faceted, smooth, cut as roundels or tubes. There are also ruby carvings and briolettes. In this article we will examine all the different types of fashioning for this versatile gemstone and also impart advice on what quality parameters to look for while purchasing these gems.

Ruby- an introduction
Rubies, as we all know, are extremely durable gemstones that belong to the family corundum. In addition to the faceted stones that are widely used in rings and earrings, ruby beads are also available in the market. Due to its toughness and resilience to scratches and breakage ruby is an ideal material that can be cut, polished, drilled as beads in various ways. There are smooth ruby beads and striated (carved with parallel lines etched along their length) ones, tumbled (smooth but slightly irregular rectangle or lozenge-shaped) or faceted ruby beads. Ruby carvings, drops, briolettes and graduated strands are also some of the different ways a ruby is fashioned. Of course beautiful, warm tones of the color red also make it a material that is extensively used in jewelry of different kinds.

Ruby Strands
Ruby strands are made up of matched and sorted beads of almost the same color and size. Colors may be denoted as dark, medium or light red. Calibrated beads- smooth or faceted may range from a tiny 2 mm to 4.5 mm in diameter. Strands are also measured by their length in inches. Some of the length combinations are 16 to 19 inches, 19 to 21 or 22 inches, so on and so forth. The strands may be single or multiple lines- and consumers can choose as per their requirements. Strands are typically made up of round or roundel shaped beads (roundels are spheres with slightly flattened sides where the drill-holes pass through.) While buying ruby strands you may want to note the uniformity in color of the beads and also in sizes. Check for loose or uneven stringing that may cause the stones to scatter if not handled properly. Strands are used to make multiple-lined necklaces and bracelets; they may also be used simply by themselves or singly to suspend a pendant or a neckpiece.

Ruby Faceted BeadsFaceted Ruby Beads
Faceted ruby beads are those that have been cut, ie; ‘faceted’ to reflect the stone’s natural fire and brilliance. On average faceted beads are round but may also be available in other shapes such as lozenge, cube or tube forms. While purchasing faceted ruby beads it makes sense to examine the line closely with the help of a 10X loupe or magnifying glass. Check for uneven facets, their sharpness and how the facets add to the brilliance and luster of the stone. Faceted beads may be used by themselves as a necklace, or in combination with metal beads to make exclusive pieces of jewelry. 

Carved Ruby BeadsCarved Ruby beads
These are beads carved with simple radiating or parallel lines or may have more complex designed etched on their surface. Carved beads are usually used to flank or accent a larger centerpiece in jewelry or may be added to lariats or wire-wrapped neckpieces by themselves. Carved ruby beads may be bought in different sizes ranging from 6 to 13 mm up to 11 to 17 mm.

ruby carving beadsRuby Carvings
Ruby carvings are flat or three dimensional pieces of ruby that have been carved with geometric or life-form inspired motifs, they are usually not drilled. Birds, butterflies, leaf and flower patterns are some of the carvings that are incised onto the surface of rubies. Look for ruby carving beads that are cleanly engraved and inspect closely for chips that may have occurred during the carving process. Carvings are mostly set in gold or silver and serve as centerpieces in necklaces or bracelets.

Ruby Briolette
A briolette is a teardrop shaped stone cut with triangular or kite-shaped facets. Victorian jewelry displayed abundant use of this type of fashioned gemstone. Nowadays briolettes are used in chandelier earrings and as end-pieces in the fringe of elaborate neckpieces. Ruby briolettes beads may be drilled through or half-way through or remain intact- depending on its intended usage. On occasion briolettes may also be referred to as carved ruby drops in manuals, sale catalogues and websites selling these.

ruby drop beadsRuby Drops
Ruby drops may be smooth, faceted or carved. Like briolettes they are pear-shaped though they may be flattened in some instances. Drops are available in different sizes ranging from 5.50 to 13 mm up to 9.5 to 15.5 mm and all denominations in between these sizes. Their colors may vary from dark, through medium to light red. Unlike briolettes that are drilled through along their length, ruby drops are drilled across the narrowest part of the drop.

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