The pink sapphire and the ruby are two rare, aesthetically similar gemstones which many people find difficult to tell from one another.
For good reason, as they are very similar stones. As we will see, the similarities go beyond appearances to a chemical level, yet there are differences between the two.
In this article, we will look at the two stones individually, identify similarities and differences between pink sapphires and rubies, and why so many people find them impossible to distinguish.
Pink Sapphire vs Ruby (Explained)
Pink Sapphire Facts
Pink sapphires are a somewhat rare variety of gemstone belonging to the sapphire group of stones and ranging in colour from baby pink to deep magenta.
Most commonly used in jewelry, the pink sapphire is a popular choice for engagement rings and can be a more affordable alternative to diamonds.
In terms of metaphysical properties, they are typically associated with purity and truth.
Rubies are rare, resilient gemstones and are famously red in colour.
This can range from orange- or pink-toned reds to deep, brown- and black-toned reds.
Similarly to pink sapphires, rubies are also commonly used in jewelry and are considered to be particularly popular in Asian countries, where their long history means they hold a deeper, more important meaning than they may in other countries.
Their metaphysical uses famously include love and passion, yet they can also be symbolic of power and authority.
What Are the Similarities Between Pink Sapphires and Rubies?
One of the key similarities between pink sapphires and rubies is the striking similarities in their appearances.
In fact, they are so aesthetically alike that the border between the two has long been subject to much discussion and disagreement between leading opinions.
Most significant in terms of physical similarities is likely color, which is prone to overlap between the two with little distinction, making their appearances even more patently comparable.
Secondly, one of the main and most important similarities between pink sapphires and rubies is that they share identical chemical compositions, which affects everything from hardiness to color.
Both stones belong to the same group of minerals, called corundum, which means they share the same mineral makeup.
There are a few differences, which we will look at later, but looking at the two stones from a chemical perspective can make them very difficult to distinguish.
The two stones also share some physical properties which can make it difficult to distinguish one from the other.
Both have the same degree of hardness, standing at 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, which is indicative of how the the stones do not scratch easily.
They both also stand at the same point on the Refractive Index, which signifies how much light is capable of passing through the gem.
What Are the Differences Between Pink Sapphires and Rubies?
The key difference between pink sapphires and rubies is the amount of the mineral chromium present in the chemical composition of each.
As we discussed previously, the chemical compositions of the two stones are practically identical, and the amount of chromium provides the only distinction between them.
Importantly, the amount of chromium highlights another difference between the two stones: their color.
The higher the amount of chromium found in a stone, the redder the stone will be; rubies contain a greater amount, and so are red in color.
Pink sapphires have less chromium, which gives them their pink color.
The line of distinction between them is difficult to decipher, with many leading authorities on gemstones differing in opinion; the International Colored Gemstone Association, for instance, considers any red stone belonging to the corundum group a ruby.
However, most agree that color is a reliable method of distinction between the two.
Other smaller differences occur in the mining and rarity of the two stones.
Rubies, whose formation relies on chromium, are extremely rare, especially high-quality ones.
Pink sapphires, while still rare, are considered more easily available; untreated pink sapphires are the rarest and most valuable.
Another difference between the two is the origin, or where they are likely to be found.
Typically, pink sapphires would be expected to be found in a fairly small number of places, primarily Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and East Africa. Rubies, on the other hand, have historically been mined in many different places, including Japan, Thailand, and Scotland.
Why Do People Confuse Rubies and Pink Sapphires?
As we have seen, the similarities between the two stones outweigh the differences and can make it extremely difficult to distinguish one from the other.
Not only are they chemically very similar, but they can also appear to be identical.
These makes identification difficult on numerous levels: from initial contact to chemical exploration.
It can also be very easy to confuse the two when there is no clear definition on how to do effectively tell them apart.
Opinions differ on everything from what makes a red stone a ruby to whether all corundum except rubies are sapphires.
When even the leading authorities on gemstones fail to provide a distinction between the two, it makes it near impossible for the layman to do so.
How to Identify Pink Sapphires From Rubies
Successfully identifying one stone from the other depends on ability to differentiate colors and effectively identify the dominant hue.
If red is the dominant hue in a stone, it is in all likelihood a ruby; as we saw earlier, pink sapphires do not contain enough chromium to be considered pure red.
Although it is not necessarily the most reliable method of distinction, it is recommended by the GIA as a reputable method.
Identification of one from the other is likely to be easier at a chemical level, where amounts of chromium can be explored more thoroughly.
Pink sapphires and rubies are incredibly similar, with very few differences between them.
These beautiful, rare gemstones can be very difficult to distinguish between, and it is very easy to see why so many people confuse the two.
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