Ruby vs. Garnet

Ruby vs. Garnet

How to Tell The Difference

Of the different red gemstones available today, Rubies and Garnets are perhaps most often confused with one another. Unlike stones such as Carnelian and Coral, both Garnets and Rubies are clear red stones and can be cut in similar ways. This leads to some confusion over which is which and which of the two stones would be a better fit for your jewelry.

While rubies are one of only four precious stones, and garnet is classified as a semi-precious stone, they are still very similar. Luckily, there are a few ways to tell these gemstones apart.


To the untrained eye, the difference between a ruby and garnet might be difficult to spot. However, despite both of these gemstones being a deep red, there are still some ways to tell the difference.

Rubies and sapphires are different colors of the same corundum, which basically means that they are the same mineral. Sapphire refers to the blue and the other color variations of this corundum, and Ruby refers to the red. Rubies, in other words, can only ever be different shades of red, and they get their red color according to how much chromium is present. The more chromium a ruby has, the redder it will be. When rubies are too light and closer to a pink shade, they’re referred to as pink sapphires instead.

That cannot be said for Garnets, however. Garnets are silicate minerals and come in red, green, and other shades. Green garnets are extremely rare and valuable, while red garnets are more common. Other colors also include pink, black, and honey-like orange.

Rubies tend to have a colder shade of red, with slightly purple or blue undertones. The most valuable and sought-after ruby color is called ‘pigeon blood red’ for its vibrant hue. Rubies can come in a lighter or deeper tone, and there is a gradient of rubies available.

On the other hand, Garnets have a much warmer shade of red, with occasional orange undertones.

Another way to tell these gemstones apart is to look at how light reflects on them. For example, when looking at a genuine ruby, the rainbow that reflects should not include yellow and green bands. However, when looking at a red garnet, the colors that reflect should be a whole rainbow.


Another easy way to tell a garnet and ruby apart is by examining their clarity. Clarity refers to how much light passes through the stone without interruptions. These interruptions in the gem are called inclusions when they are on the inside and blemishes when they are on the surface of the gem.

Both gems are clear rather than milky or opaque, but it is more common to find inclusions and blemishes in rubies. Lab-grown rubies, while not perfect, are usually more clear than natural rubies.

Garnets are what is typically referred to as ‘eye-clear.’ This means that they rarely have any visible inclusions- at least none that the naked eye can see.


Most natural rubies are heat-treated to improve their clarity and make their color red more vibrant. Heat treatments are done for various reasons, depending on the kind of ruby. For example, Myanmar (or Burmese) rubies are heat-treated to remove their dark cores. Rubies from Thailand are treated to remove the brown hue they have. These treatments are also permanent, which means that their effect on these precious gemstones will not fade over time.

Because of their natural clarity and lack, garnets rarely require these treatments, which means that most of these beautiful stones are entirely natural.


If you are looking at a jewelry piece and are unsure of which stone is used in it, the price tag may give you an indication.

Natural rubies can be extremely rare and more difficult to find, making them all the more expensive. For a good size and good quality ruby, you could pay anything from $5000 to $15 000 per carat. Red garnets are relatively common, unlike their green counterparts, and much less expensive. Their price ranges anywhere from $400 to $3000 per carat.


Diamonds are widely accepted as the toughest substance on earth. Rubies fall just below diamonds on the Mohs Scale of hardness, with a score of 9 out of 10, which would make them the second hardest gemstone. Ruby jewelry is, therefore, incredibly durable and resistant to wear and tear.

Like emeralds, garnets fall even lower on the scale, at anything from a 6 to 7.5. Unfortunately, that means that while they are still pretty resilient, these semi-precious gemstones are more prone to damage and scratching than rubies.

This difference may not be completely clear to the naked eye, but it is certainly something one would pick up after some time owning one of these two gemstones.


Symbolism and History


The name ‘Ruby’ comes from the Latin word “ruber,” which means red.

In medieval times, rubies became a favorite of the European royalty and nobility. They believed that rubies would guarantee good health, wealth, success, love, and wisdom. It was during this time, and for this reason, that the ruby became known as the “stone of kings.”

Ruby is the July birthstone. While this month’s zodiac signs are water signs, July is a time of immense heat in many countries. So it is only fitting that this month’s birthstone is something equally fiery.

Rubies represent good fortune and prosperity, good health and invigoration, passion, and protection. They also stand for integrity and confidence.


The word ‘garnet’ is inspired by the inside of a pomegranate, as the seeds inside this fruit look like small garnet gems. ‘Garnet’ comes from the Latin word ‘Garanatus’ and means seedlike.

Garnets have been found used in jewelry dating back as far as 3000 BC. It is said that the king of Saxony owned a 445-carat garnet. In ancient Czechoslovakia, Bohemian castles were decorated with many small, closely set Garnets- mimicking the look of a pomegranate on purpose. In Victorian times, garnets were often used for jewelry, as well.

Garnet is the January birthstone. The January zodiac contains fire signs, and in that way, this vibrant red stone is very suitable.

Garnets were once thought to cure depression and other ailments and protect against bad dreams, drowning, and poisons. The garnet is a stone of honor, protection, good health, and love- making it a popular choice for engagement rings.

Ruby and Garnet FAQs

What is glass filling?

Glass filling is a way to fill fractures in rubies and other precious gemstones. This is done because these cracks and cavities cause a significant loss in the clarity of a stone.

Lead glass is used to fill each cavity and can sometimes even improve the color of the gemstone. That is, however, not a very durable solution and can be damaged in certain cleaning processes.

How do I know when my jewelry is not a ruby?

Sometimes garnets are mistaken for rubies. However, in some cases, stones are marketed as rubies when they are neither ruby nor garnet. Luckily, there are some ways to spot a fake ruby.


If it seems dull, it could be a fake. Genuine rubies have very vivid colors.


Compare it to red glass. If it looks similar, it may be a fake.


Try to scratch the gem. It is not a real ruby if it scratches easily, as rubies are very hard.

Color Transfer

Scratch it against a surface and see if it gives off-color. If it does, it may be fake and artificially colored.

Second Opinion

If you are still unsure, you can talk to a reputable jeweler and get it analyzed.


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