Saturday, January 18, 2014

Brazilian "Rubies" and "Sapphires" - What Are They Really??

I love hearing from people, whether they're customers on Etsy or people who read this blog.  Recently, a lovely reader sent me an email regarding so-called "Brazilian Rubies" and "Brazilian Sapphires".  I had never known about this until now----so a BIG thank you to Lesli! 

What is a Brazilian Ruby?

Colors of Fancy Sapphires (plus Clear, Black and Grey)
First of all, a ruby is actually a red sapphire!  Sapphires come in all colors, and when they're red, they're called rubies.  When they're blue, they are simply called Sapphires.  And all the other colors are referred to as "fancy sapphires" and range from clear to all shades of pink to greens, yellows, purples, even grey and black.  They are the mineral corundum, and are very hard (with a Mohs hardness of 9----almost a diamond, which is a 10).  Sapphires are mined throughout the world including Montana! 

There are a LOT of "Brazilian" rubies----strands of beads or loose faceted briolettes----for sale lately at really great prices.  These stones are quite opaque but are rich red colors, or red-to-pink colors.  They seem to be very large stones, and so affordable!  I know there are a lot of "enhanced" rubies, filled rubies (fissures are filled with leaded glass), ruby doublets, and other treatments of lower-quality corundum gemstones to make them more desirable.  Like Lesli said in her email, I assumed they were just poor quality rubies that were dyed, which would explain their cheap price.

But what are these Brazilian rubies? 
Brazilian Rubies $9/Strand


 It turns out that they are NOT rubies at all.  Not corundum stones.  These stones ARE gemstones (not glass or CZ) but actually are a light rose-pink spinel, topaz, or pink tourmaline!  According to the Encyclopedia Britanica, a very rare red colored Topaz is referred to as "Brazilian Ruby".  And per many other gem websites (such as THIS one), Brazilian Ruby is actually Pink Topaz.   The faceted rondelles (pictured right) look almost like dyed jade, and as they are sold as "Brazilian Rubies" from DHGate in China, they are most definitely NOT rubies.


So if you are searching for a real Ruby gemstone, I would suggest steering clear of any so-called "Brazilian" rubies! 

What About Brazilian "Sapphires"?

Paraiba Tourmalines
Once again, these so-called Brazilian Sapphires are NOT sapphires at all.  Per The Natural Sapphire Company's website (HERE), these are actually Blue Topaz or Tourmaline.  Apparently "Blue Sapphire" is the commercial name for Indicolite from Brazil---Indicolite is blue tourmaline.  Per the GIA, there are examples of fabulous natural violet-blue Paraiba tourmalines that rival the most expensive sapphires in look as well as price! 

I'm happy to say that I couldn't find any strands of  so-called "Brazilian Sapphires" for sale on etsy.


Blue Topaz, Indicolite (Blue Tourmaline), Pink or Red Topaz, Spinel---all of these are gorgeous gemstones.  It's my opinion that by calling another gem "Brazilian Ruby" or "Brazilian Sapphire" it crosses the line from just "creative marketing" to intending to defraud buyers.  If you want a ruby or a strand of faceted ruby or sapphire rondelles, please be aware that "Brazilian" stones aren't really corundum.

As always, buyer beware!

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