Caring for Gems: Ruby

In our fourth installment of our five-part series on caring for gemstones, we will explore the care and cleaning of rubies, the July birthstone. Check out our birthstone of the month post from July 5 for more information on the stone itself.

Rubies are the hardest stone aside from diamonds, but are prone to fractures and large stones are very rare. To increase their strength, most rubies are treated with heat. Heat treatment also removes purplish coloration which leaves the stone a purer red. Some rubies are subjected to lattice diffusion treatment which uses heat and chemicals to artificially change its color. Lower quality gems may have fractures and cavities filled with a glass.

When you buy, ask if your ruby has been treated and by which method as it will inform the care of your gem. As always, it is important to keep your rubies clean and well cared for. Here are some tips:

  • Wash your gems with warm soapy water. Use a soft brush, like a toothbrush to get to hard to reach areas.
  • Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are usually safe for untreated, heat treated and lattice diffusion treated stones.
  • Glass filled or dyed stones should only be cleaned with a damp cloth.
  • Rubies can be damaged by acidic substances like lemon juice or boric acid. Do not wear rubies when cooking or cleaning.
  • Put on your rubies after you are done getting ready to go out. Oils on your skins, lotions and perfumes can create a film over the gem and make it look dirty. Always remove your rubies and put them back in safe keeping upon returning home.
  • Store rubies in a fabic-lined box. Rubies can damage other stones that are not as durable.
  • Regularly visit your jeweler to have your setting checked and diamond professionally cleaned. This helps to prevent the loss of gems in the case where your setting is damaged or the prongs holding your ruby are loose or broken.

Take good care of your rubies and they will sparkle like fire for generations. Stop by Bridgewaters for professional cleaning and having your setting checked.