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Can you tell me anything about this ring?

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
This is the first thread I've started on CS, but I lurk here all the time! Before I started lurking, I knew almost nothing about colored stones, except that they're gorgeous. I've learned a lot by reading over here, but still have so much to learn.

I posted yesterday on Antique & Vintage Jewelry, but I know it's a less active forum, so I thought I'd come over here and check with you all as well. Here's the topic over there.

I'll try to condense more in this post. I recently found myself in possession of my grandmother's engagement ring. All I knew about it was that it was a ruby (her birthstone), but it had been misplaced until recently. My dad passed away last year, so it meant a lot to me when we found it.

What I know:
My grandmother was born in 1895 (I'm only 27, but my dad was older when I was born).
She died in 1948.
She married circa 1918 or so (the ring has to date back at least this far).
It is set in 10k yellow gold.

When I first took a look at the ring, I was surprised at how pinky purple the stone was. I was obviously expecting it to be red red. How much can the color deviate before it's not considered a ruby? I know ruby is the red variety of corundum. I assume it was always considered a ruby, since that's how the ring was described.

Can any of you more knowledgeable people tell me anything about the stone and/or ring? I wanted to talk to the jeweler about it when I had it resized, but because of timing, I didn't get an opportunity and was in a hurry to be able to wear it!

Regardless of the details, I'm in love with the ring. It makes my heart full to wear something so connected to my dad and grandma (who I obviously never had the opportunity to meet). I just thought it would be interesting to see if anyone could tell me anything about it.

Last thing I'll say is that I hope to become more active in this forum as my interested in colored stones grows and I continue to learn! I'm planning to start my first colored stone project soon (I've purchased a red spinel and it's currently being shipped to me).

[The last picture is with my e-ring for size comparison - it's an AVC 0.71 G SI1.]

gmaering1.jpg
gmaering2.jpg
gmaering3.jpg
gmaering4.jpg
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
9,613
The colour of ruby is not a fixed quantity - it pretty much comes down to whether you are selling the stone or buying it! However the stone in the picture would qualify IMO for being called ruby if it looks like the photo.

To be honest I'm glad it is the colour it is and not bright, bright red as a stone that size in a 10k gold setting would make me think it was at least 90% certain to be a verneuil synthetic - they started making them in around 1890 and they weren't cheap and were pretty sought after so there are a lot of them around and many people are shocked to discover that great-great-grandmother's ring isn't real as they think that synthetics are a new thing.

So, I would probably put some money on it quite possibly being natural - the question is a natural 'what'?' Did the jeweller test the stone for you when he sized it? The reason behind my wondering what the stone is, is mainly because it's obviously a large stone and yet it's only set in 10k gold. Rubies - even rubies that aren't stop-light red - are and were some of the most expensive stones around. A really fine ruby will easily cost as much if not more than a comparable sized white diamond. If it is an expensive stone then one wonders why was it only set in 10k gold...

It could possibly be a garnet or even a spinel although less likely. I hate to say this but it could also turn out to be coloured glass. Obviously it could also be corundum in which case, and I really hope it is... hooray!

Do you have any gemmological tools or even a loupe? It would be pretty easy to test even in the setting - a spectroscope or polariscope would be my first port of call after a good look with a loupe.

If you do have a loupe could you have a look and see if you can describe the condition of the facet edges - are they sharp or are they more rounded? Are there lots of scratches and abrasions on the faces of the facets? Can you see anything inside the stone - bubbles or swirls or lots of little curved lines or anything else?

If you have a UV (black) light, could you put the stone under that and tell me if you see anything.
 

innerkitten

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 1, 2003
Messages
5,623
It's very pretty. I'd guess some sort of synthetic ruby too. They were very popular back then.
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
Pandora|1305070295|2917891 said:
The colour of ruby is not a fixed quantity - it pretty much comes down to whether you are selling the stone or buying it! However the stone in the picture would qualify IMO for being called ruby if it looks like the photo.

To be honest I'm glad it is the colour it is and not bright, bright red as a stone that size in a 10k gold setting would make me think it was at least 90% certain to be a verneuil synthetic - they started making them in around 1890 and they weren't cheap and were pretty sought after so there are a lot of them around and many people are shocked to discover that great-great-grandmother's ring isn't real as they think that synthetics are a new thing.

So, I would probably put some money on it quite possibly being natural - the question is a natural 'what'?' Did the jeweller test the stone for you when he sized it? The reason behind my wondering what the stone is, is mainly because it's obviously a large stone and yet it's only set in 10k gold. Rubies - even rubies that aren't stop-light red - are and were some of the most expensive stones around. A really fine ruby will easily cost as much if not more than a comparable sized white diamond. If it is an expensive stone then one wonders why was it only set in 10k gold...

It could possibly be a garnet or even a spinel although less likely. I hate to say this but it could also turn out to be coloured glass. Obviously it could also be corundum in which case, and I really hope it is... hooray!

Do you have any gemmological tools or even a loupe? It would be pretty easy to test even in the setting - a spectroscope or polariscope would be my first port of call after a good look with a loupe.

If you do have a loupe could you have a look and see if you can describe the condition of the facet edges - are they sharp or are they more rounded? Are there lots of scratches and abrasions on the faces of the facets? Can you see anything inside the stone - bubbles or swirls or lots of little curved lines or anything else?

If you have a UV (black) light, could you put the stone under that and tell me if you see anything.
I have a loupe somewhere, but I'll have to see if I can hunt it down. I'll get back to you and post what I can see. I wasn't able to talk to the jeweler about it, as I had to run in after work and they were really busy and closing soon. So I was lucky just to get it resized. I might bring it back by when I have more time though.

To be honest, I've been studying the ring pretty closely just now, I'm almost certain it says 18k and not 10k. I'm like 98% sure now that I misread it. So I don't know if that helps anything.

I'll come back and let you know what I can see when I hunt down my loupe!

Thanks so much for the initial thoughts! The monetary value of the ring doesn't matter to me, as its sentimental value is too great for me to ever sell it. My dad was definitely under the impression that it was a real ruby, but who knows.
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
9,613
merilenda|1305072130|2917918 said:
I have a loupe somewhere, but I'll have to see if I can hunt it down. I'll get back to you and post what I can see. I wasn't able to talk to the jeweler about it, as I had to run in after work and they were really busy and closing soon. So I was lucky just to get it resized. I might bring it back by when I have more time though.

To be honest, I've been studying the ring pretty closely just now, I'm almost certain it says 18k and not 10k. I'm like 98% sure now that I misread it. So I don't know if that helps anything.

I'll come back and let you know what I can see when I hunt down my loupe!

Thanks so much for the initial thoughts! The monetary value of the ring doesn't matter to me, as its sentimental value is too great for me to ever sell it. My dad was definitely under the impression that it was a real ruby, but who knows.
18k would definitely make me less suspicious about things like glass. Synthetics were often set in platinum so metal quality doesn't help on them - most of the verneuil stones that I have I bought were set in 15k or 18k gold brooches, took the stones out for my collection and gave the settings to my father who has been doing jewellery courses for a few years now.

Sentimental value is far more important and remains whatever the stone may or may not be. Either way, the ring is very pretty!

Oh, and I really want to know the answer on this one so you are to come back and tell us everything you can see and anything a jeweller can tell you. Try and find one that is a GG or something - I don't trust IDs based on using a digital gemtester... they're fine for diamond melee but otherwise they really are a tool of last resort. I've seen some very 'off' results from them.
 

merilenda

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 20, 2010
Messages
816
Okay, first let me apologize because I am absolutely terrible at trying to describe anything visual. The facets have sharper edges, with small triangles and kite shapes. I'm not seeing many obvious inclusions/abrasions (maybe a small one here or there), but I am notoriously horrible at noticing inclusions unless a stone is magnified many times. My diamond is an SI1, and I can't see any inclusions on it whatsoever, even under a loupe.

The stone does appear to have a small window, as you can see it when looking down from a particular angle. I would say the color is fairly true in the photos (they were taken in natural light), but then I know that's really inexact, since we probably all have different shades showing up on our screens. I would describe it as a very purpley dark pink. It's quite glowy to me, especially outdoors.

I can't see any bubbles or anything inside the stone, but it does seem darker in the center than toward the edges.

Just like you said, part of what threw me when I saw the ring was the size of the stone. I was definitely expecting something smaller, and it kind of made me question what it was. I wish I knew more about it. Offhand, I wouldn't think my grandparents could afford a natural ruby of that size, but I don't know how long the ring has been in the family. Unfortunately it's not engraved. But then what I know about them comes from my dad's stories of growing up in the Depression. I know they were much better off in the earlier years, but my dad had the misfortune of being the youngest child (and the only one to be born after the start of the Great Depression).

The ring was accompanied in a small jewelry box by a yellow gold bracelet with a design on it and a yellow gold locket with my grandpa's full name on one side & "May God Protect You" on the other side. They're definitely pieces that I'm thrilled to have.
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
9,613
Okay, the sharp facet edges and lack of chips and abrasions is a good thing as it makes the possibility of glass much more unlikely and suggests a harder material.

The lack of internal inclusions makes me think that it is more likely to be either a verneuil synthetic or a garnet. Garnets were often called Cape Rubies in those days and synthetic rubies were not thought of in negative terms at all - you often find them in platinum settings - so your father always remembering it as a ruby is not a suprise even if it turns out not to be a natural ruby.

I'm reading a gemmology text-book at the moment that was written in around 1920 and the author talks a lot about 'Scientific Rubies' and definitely approves of them.

The other possibility that I didn't mention is a doublet of some kind - the most common are Garnet Topped Doublets and Corundum Topped Doublets where a slice of garnet or corundum is glued to a piece of coloured glass and then cut into a finished stone. They can be made to look like stones of any colour you want. Your eye automatically reads the colour at the bottom of a stone so if you have a piece of red garnet stuck to a piece of green glass then the stone will look bright green to your eyes. They can be a bugger when it comes to IDing especially when set.

I had a CTD the other day where I got a stone that looked like a nice ruby, it had a ruby spectrum, a ruby RI from the table but looked a bit odd on the polariscope. I took another RI from one of the pavillion facets and lo and behold got an RI for paste. Under the loupe it was relatively hard to spot as the join was at the girdle and there weren't any give away inclusions.

One thing to look out for with these is to use reflected light to look at the crown facets. Often with doublets the corundum or garnet doesn't go down as far as the girdle so when you look at the crown facets you can often see an abrupt change in lustre between the top and bottom of the facets.
 

chrono

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 22, 2004
Messages
37,494
At this point, it could be anything as no tests have been run on it. The first thing I’d do is to narrow down the possibilities by doing a refractive index test to make sure it’s corundum. After that, it becomes a matter of whether it is a natural or synthetic.
 
T

talamasca

Guest
This thread is very intersting, but regardless of what it is it's very nice and the fact that it's been in your family for so long is lovely :D
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
9,613
Chrono|1305114897|2918352 said:
At this point, it could be anything as no tests have been run on it. The first thing I’d do is to narrow down the possibilities by doing a refractive index test to make sure it’s corundum. After that, it becomes a matter of whether it is a natural or synthetic.
The problem with doing an RI is that the stone is set and getting the table facet to sit on the table of the refractometer could be tricky. Polariscope will tell you if it's singly or doubly refractive which either way will rule out various possibilities: If SR then it's not corundum, if DR then it's not paste, garnet or spinel. There isn't another DR red stone that I can think of that could be confused with ruby except possibly a very fine red tourmaline.

Again with a spectrum, the ones for ruby and for red garnets are incredibly recognizable and strong. If it's DR and you get a spectrum for ruby then you know the tourmaline is out and you just need to separate the synthetic ruby from the natural... they have the same RI, SG, spectrum etc. The main thing to look for are typical inclusions for each - especially curved parallel lines that are very fine and close together. Normally you can see them looking through the table on to the back facets. In red stones they're not usually too hard to see. Small bubbles are also a good clue.
 
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