Ruby or Garnet: Which red gemstone is right for you?


There is no doubt that red is a powerful color. It can be bold and commanding, or it can be passionate and seductive. Red has always been a popular choice for gemstones, and there are two red gems that are the most famous of them all: ruby and garnet.

Ruby is the more well-known of the two, but garnet is quickly gaining popularity as an affordable alternative. Both stones have their advantages. So, which red gemstone is right for you? Lets start with a quick check – one of the two rings below is a ruby and the other is a garnet – can you guess which is which?

Image of Octagon Cut Garnet Gemstone in Rose Gold

If you guessed the ring at the top (in white gold) as being the ruby – you guessed correctly! (the bottom in rose gold is a  garnet). That said, to the untrained eye – these differences are not always clear.

Let us guide you through a comparison between ruby and garnet to help you decide which red colored stone is best for your needs!

The history of ruby

Ruby is a brilliant red gemstone that has been cherished throughout history. For centuries, this radiant stone has been used as signals of power and wealth. It was favored greatly amongst the nobility and upper classes as the glowing red color symbolized passion, strength, and love. Rubies were first discovered in Asia and introduced to Europe in the 13th century by Marco Polo. Ruby deposits are still mined in Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Central Africa, and East Africa. However, the Mogok Valley in Myanmar (formerly Burma) has yielded some of the finest rubies ever found.

Ruby gets its name from the Latin word ‘ruber’, which means red. In folklore, it was believed that rubies possessed a range of magical powers, from the ability to protect their owners from harm to the power to grant wishes. In astrology, it is associated with the zodiac signs of Cancer and Leo.

Together with sapphire, emerald, and diamond, ruby is considered one of the four ‘precious’ stones (though this term is no longer used). Today, this July birthstone is one of the most popular gemstones in the world, and its timeless beauty continues to captivate jewelry lovers around the globe.


Image of Red RubyThe history of garnet

Garnet derives its name from the Latin word “granatus”, which means “seedlike”, in reference to the pomegranate since garnets tend to be small and round in shape. It is found in a variety of colors, but the most common are red, purple, and green. Compared to other gems, garnet is available in different types of which the five most important types are pyrope, almandine, grossular, spessartite, and andradite.

However, the red garnet is the most well-known and evokes a vintage appearance when set in metal. When discussing red garnet, it is most likely to be pyrope (purple to dark blood-red-colored), almandine (deep red-violet-colored) and rhodolite (rose-red to purple-red colored). Each of these have their own properties and advantages.

Today, garnets are popular gemstones, and they can be found in a variety of jewelry styles as their malleability allows this January birthstone to be cut into any shape, size or design desired.

Red Garnet Rhodolite GemstoneIs garnet the same color as ruby?

Ruby is typically a brighter, more vibrant red than garnet. But red garnet tends to vary from purple-red to a deeper, darker red. This also depends on the type of garnet. Whether you prefer the fiery brilliance of ruby or the classic elegance of garnet, these two stones are sure to add a touch of finery to any setting.

What is the price difference between ruby and garnet?

Though garnet and ruby are similar in appearance, there are some key differences. One of the most notable is price. Ruby’s centuries-old prestige and glamor makes it one of the most valuable gemstones in the market. Ruby is also one of the hardiest stones, meaning it can better withstand everyday wear and tear. Garnet is typically more affordable than ruby. If you are looking for a red gemstone on a limited budget, then garnet is a beautiful option that won’t break the bank.

Is ruby stronger than garnet?

Yes! Ruby is formed out of corundum, which is also the mineral found in sapphire. It ranks an astonishing 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, only second to diamond. Garnet generally ranks 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale, although each type of garnet has a different level of durability. For instance, a garnet type like demantoid will be a little softer than pyrope and almandine that fall on the harder side.

In a contest of durability, ruby is the undisputed winner. However, garnet has an advantage over ruby: Since it ranks lower on the Mohs scale, it is an ideal gemstone for fashioning into intaglios and cameos.

Intaglios are engraved gems: The gems have been carved with a design to create an image that is hollowed out. Cameos are carvings in which a relief image is cut into a layer of contrasting color. Garnets are often used for cameos because their deep red color provides a beautiful contrast with lighter colors of stone (and they make for a great birthday gift).

So, if you’re looking for a piece that will stand the test of time, ruby is the way to go. If you’re looking for a piece that you want to customize, garnet is what you want.

What metal is best for ruby?

Ruby always goes best with yellow gold metal. The classic combination of red and yellow conjures a vintage appearance to your jewelry, enhancing the blood-red brilliance of ruby with the dazzling yellow color of gold.

Image of Red Ruby ring with Diamond accentsWhat metal is best for garnet?

Garnet best matches silver-colored metals such as platinum or white gold. However, given its vibrant color, garnet set in yellow gold will evoke a classical feel to the jewelry piece.


Image of Garnet Necklace Sterling SilverThe benefits of owning ruby jewelry

As a ‘precious’ stone, ruby generally tend to hold their value more than garnets. Over centuries, its value has remained steady and even increased over time. When set in gold or platinum and properly cared for, ruby jewelry will last for a lifetime. Maybe even generations. You can pass it down to your descendants as a family keepsake or heirloom to treasure. When it comes to ruby jewelry, the only question is how much you are prepared to spend.

The benefits of owning garnet jewelry

Garnet is a relatively affordable stone, which makes it a great option for people who are looking for quality jewelry at a reasonable price. It looks especially beautiful when it is set in white gold or silver, but it can also look stunning yellow gold. If you are looking for versatile jewelry that won’t set you back too much, then garnet makes for an exquisite choice.

Ruby vs. garnet: what’s the verdict?

Are ruby and garnet the perfect gemstones for you? Both of these stones have their own unique set of advantages. But, in general, they are both great options for anyone looking for a beautiful, fiery red stone. If you want to give a unique present for someone celebrating a July birthday or commemorating a 15th or 40th wedding anniversary, a gift of ruby jewelry will be received with delight. If you know someone who enjoys wearing unique-colored gems or is celebrating their 2nd wedding anniversary, they will appreciate your gift of garnet jewelry. Now that you know everything that needs to be known when it comes to ruby and garnet, you will have no trouble finding the perfect stone for your needs.