Gemstone Guide to Rubies, Emeralds and Sapphires
Not everything that glitters is gold and not everything that sparkles is diamond, especially when it comes to stunning gemstone jewellery. Whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind engagement ring, a statement pendant necklace or a beautiful set of unique earrings, choosing colourful gemstone jewellery is a great way to add a touch of character and glamour to any outfit.
To help you pick the right gemstone to suit your style, we’ve put together this guide that dives into the origins of each gems, the superstitions surrounding them and celebrities who love them.
For more information about gemstones, take a look at our gemstone education page.
The name “Ruby” is derived from the Latin “Ruber”, meaning “Red”. This precious gem is made up of a mineral called corundum and it can vary in colour from a deep, dark red to a pale pink. Rubies are the third hardest mineral substance in the world, only beaten by moissanites and diamonds.
The famous red gem has played an important role throughout history. It’s mentioned several times in ancient Sanskrit scriptures under the name “The King of Gemstones” and is referred to numerous times in the bible with connections to wisdom and beauty.
Possibly the most famous reference to rubies is in the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy tapped together her magical ruby red slippers to transport her back to her home in Kansas. However, Elizabeth Taylor, Victoria Backham and Jessica Simpson are also major fans of the gemstones.
The name “Emerald” comes from the Greek “Smaragdus”, meaning “Green”. This dazzling gem is made from the mineral beryl and gets its vibrant colour from chromium or vanadium. This gem isn’t particularly durable, making it unsuitable for everyday wear.
While emerald is the birthstone for May, it’s not restricted to people celebrating their birthday during that month. Emerald jewellery is also a traditional gift for 55th wedding anniversaries, May engagements, May weddings and to celebrate the birth of a baby.
Cleopatra famously adorned herself with the green gemstone and the Romans were also enamoured by them, believing them to be powerful symbols of love and fertility. Today, emeralds are an emblem of beauty, style and wealth with many iconic women, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Jackie Obnassis and Elizabeth Taylor wearing them in statement jewellery.
The name “Sapphire” comes from the Latin “Sapphirus” and the Greek “Sapphueiros” meaning “Blue Stone”. All sapphires, whether blue, pink, yellow or green, are made primarily from the mineral corundum. The more chromium found in the corundum present, the more pink the sapphire is.
In ancient Persian folklore, the Earth was believed to be balanced on top of an enormous blue sapphire and is what gave the sky its blue colour. In Asian lore, pink sapphires were admired as symbols of love and often compared to the sacred lotus flower, symbolising wisdom and beauty.
In modern times, blue sapphires are connected to honesty, truth and royalty. They’re found in several countries’ crown jewel collections, such as the UK and Holland, and famously feature in the Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement ring. Today pink sapphires represent elegance and romance and are also often worn by royals and celebrities. One of the most famous examples of a prominent pink sapphire is the one on the broach Queen Elizabeth II wore while giving her 2013 Christmas Day speech.