Jewelry Guide

What is Rubellite Tourmaline?

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This gorgeous pink to red gemstone may sound like just an alternative to ruby to the uninitiated but its significance goes far beyond that.

Rubellite is actually a type of tourmaline – the most rare, precious, and beautiful type.

With its gorgeous red color and other physical characteristics, rubellite makes for a fantastic jewelry gemstone and comes at a price to match its value.

What is Rubellite?

Rubellite is just one member of the vast tourmaline gemstone family. It’s a crystal silicate that has been a part of human history for millennia.

These multifaceted gemstones have a captivating color range that varies from tender pink or violet to rich and deep crimson red. They are named after the Latin word “rubellus” which means reddish. Because of their beauty and rarity, rubellites are actually the most expensive and prized tourmaline gemstones.

Where is Rubellite Found?

Rubellites are  mined from several locations around the world, mainly from Madagascar, Brazil, Mozambique, Afganistan, Russia, the United States, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

Despite coming from multiple mining sites across the globe, rubellites are still quite rare overall, so much so that they are actually more expensive than the ruby – one of the most valued and prized precious gemstones in the world.

In recent years, certain African deposits have yielded cleaner rubellite rough. However, these rubellites often how brown tinges which are undesirable in most cases as brown or orange colored rubellites are prized lower than pink, violet and red ones. Brazilian sources tend to yield more rubellites in these color ranges but they are rarely eye-clean.

How To Evaluate Rubellite Quality?

Rubellite Color

The main driving factor of a rubellite’s quality is its color. The most prized and valuable rubellite gemstones are the ones with deep crimson red color, resembling rubies with a slight tinge of pink. They can vary from red to purple to vivid pink.

That’s not because rubellites are used as an imitation or an alternative to rubies – they are actually more expensive than them – but simply because of the beauty of the rich red color.

Rubellite Shape and Cut

As a gemstone with high hardness (7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale), a high refraction index, a vitreous luster, and no cleavage, rubellite can be cut into any shape and be used for virtually any jewelry type.

The highest value cuts for rubellite gemstones are brilliant and checkerboard cuts as is the case for all tourmaline gemstones.

Because rubellite stones can be cut so well, it’s essential that you check their symmetry, proportions, and reflection before buying.

Rubellite Clarity

Rubellite can benefit from having certain inclusions. Unlike many others where inclusions of any kind lower the overall price of the piece, some inclusions can help the rubellite tourmaline reflect light in specific beautiful patterns.

Still, for collectors typically prefer eye-clean rubellites because of their even greater rarity since almost all rubellites have at least some inclusions.

Rubellite Treatments and Enhancements

As far as treatments are concerned, that’s also something to watch out for when buying rubellite jewelry or gemstones.

One of the newest and very common treatments rubellites and many similar tourmaline gemstones receive is irradiation.

This process can produce stable red tones in even pale pink rubellites and it’s virtually undetectable with the naked eye. In other words, you can safely assume that most red rubellites you’ll encounter are treated with irradiation even though some won’t be.

Another popular treatment for tourmaline gemstones such as rubellite is inclusion filling. This is similar to a popular treatment done on emeralds – the tubular fillings of the gemstones are filled to enhance clarity.

There are various tests that can detect these treatments – hot point testing or Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). These can affect the quality of the stone, however, especially the hot point testing, so they are not recommended.

With all this in mind, buying a perfect natural rubellite is difficult and that’s another reason why they are so expensive. Unless you’re a collector, however, there’s no reason to look for natural rubellite – rubellites that have been treated well can be more than beautiful and suitable enough for any piece of jewelry.

Rubellite Jewelry

As we alluded above, rubellites are perfect for any type of jewelry. They have very good wearability, they are easy to take care of and maintain thanks to their good hardness, and the various cuts and shapes they can come in make them very versatile.

Rings, earrings, necklaces, pendants, even diadems, and bracelets can all look gorgeous with a nice rubellite stone on them.

rubellite earrings

Rose gold and reddish rubellite earrings – a stunning match. Seem them here.

Because of their rich reddish color, rubellites typically work best with whitish or metallic settings and materials, which give it a stylish, modern look. However, yellow and rose gold add an element of contrast and give a vintage touch to the piece.

Conventional wisdom states that red and pink don’t work well together (anyone familiar with Anne of Green Gables would know that!) but rubellite paired with rose gold is stunning, a match made in heaven.

Price-wise rubellite jewelry can range greatly depending on the color, cut, and quality of the gemstones used, as well as on the intricacy, quality, and brand of the entire jewelry piece. Some pieces can cost eye-popping prices like these vintage rubellite earrings that’s beyond most of our budgets, but you can also find relatively affordable rubellite jewelry.

Should I Choose A Rubellite Engagement Ring?

Red rubellite ring

Rubellite engagement ring. See it here.

In the last couple of decades, tourmaline gemstones have been increasingly used for engagement rings. With rubellite being the most prized and sought after type of tourmaline, that’s certainly the case here as well.

Do keep in mind, however, that with a hardness of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, rubellites are not as hard as diamonds (10 mohs) or even rubies (9 Mohs) and sapphires (9 Mohs).

They are still hard enough to have great wearability and be more durable than most other gemstones but compared to rubies and diamonds, rubellites will require more care and maintenance.

That’s the main reason why we wouldn’t generally recommend rubellites for an engagement ring but if they are to be set in a protective setting (such as a halo or a bezel setting) and if you are ready to commit to taking care for your rubellite stone, then it can be a good choice.

Rubellite vs. Pink Tourmaline – Are They the Same?

Both are tourmalines and both are pink, so what’s the difference? It all comes down to specific pink shades.

Rubellite can be called a variety of pink tourmaline, but it gets the prestige of having its own name based on the following factors:

  1. Rubellite is a vivid, pink-red color but can also be purple or pink. Pink tourmaline comes in a range of pink shades.
  2. Rubellite holds its color under various lighting sources and appears red throughout. If the color changes from pink-red to pink, then it’s a tourmaline.

The difference between rubellite and pink tourmaline is hazy and the lines tend to blur sometimes. It’s exactly like pink sapphire and ruby – ruby is a red sapphire that has its own name but the differences with pink sapphire can sometimes blur.

Rubellite vs. Ruby – What’s The Difference?

The main difference between the two is that rubellite tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone and the ruby is a precious stone.

Additionally, rubies are found in deep red colors only while rubellites can range purple to pink. Even though rubies are considered to be one of the valuable gemstones on Earth (second to diamonds), high-quality naturally clear rubellites are actually more expensive because of their rarity.

With all that being said, the choice between rubellites and rubies is usually personal and is based on the individual beauty of each stone and the budget of the customer.

There is no right or wrong choice between them are neither is to be considered a “budget version” of the other.

How To Care For Rubellite?

As rubellites are fairly hard and durable they are easier to take care of than other gemstones. Nevertheless, heating or ultrasonic mechanical cleaning procedures are still ill-advised for them.

Instead, we’d recommend that you only clean rubellite jewelry with warm soapy water and a soft piece of cloth. Avoid using toxic detergents and if the rest of the jewelry piece is of questionable durability as well, don’t hesitate to consult with a professional.

As far as storing rubellite jewelry is concerned, these hard gemstones aren’t easy to scratch but that can still happen if you keep them together with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, or other tourmaline stones. Instead, always store them separately or at least wrapped in a piece of cloth.

Rubellite Meaning And Symbolism

These reddish tourmaline gemstones are said to carry strong love energies and bring positivity and good emotion to the wearer. They’re said to promote passionate energy and increase your feelings of positivity. It is believed to bring emotional balance and healing for those who have personal pain and issues.

Rubellite is also believed to strengthen friendship bonds and to promote sympathy and empathy toward others. This makes it both a good friendship present and a great gift between lovers.

Rubellite encourages love of self which in turn assists in promoting healthy relationships.

*Disclaimer: Jewelry Shopping Guide does not guarantee or validate any of the claims related to the metaphysical and alternative healing powers of this or any other gemstone. This information should in no way be used as a substitute for medical advice.

Where to Buy Rubellite Jewelry

Rubellite is rare and finding the perfect rubellite jewelry can be difficult at brick and mortar stores. We recommend searching online or at specialist gemstone shops.

Etsy and Amazon are great places to start your rubellite jewelry search, as they give you a feel for the market, pricing and styles. You may also find excellent antique pieces or stunning modern rubellite jewelry of exceptional quality on these sites.

Always check for quality, and purchase from a vendor with a proven track record.

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