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A loose ruby gemstone faces to the left across from a loose diamond gemstone facing to the right

Ruby vs. Diamond: Which One Suits You?

Both diamonds and rubies are deeply romantic choices for an engagement ring. They each possess their own highly distinctive looks. Diamonds are renowned for their shimmer and traditional allure, while rubies have a reputation as a passionate and dramatic red gem. Each is a spectacular choice for a ring, and both are breathtaking when combined together in beautiful balance.

Origins and Rarity


Though diamonds in general are considered precious, it’s an individual diamond’s one-of-a-kind clarity, color, carat and cut that makes it exceptional. First mined in India over two millennia ago, diamonds are now mined all over the world, with the majority of them coming from Canada, Africa, Australia and Russia. Diamonds can also be lab-crafted, creating eco-friendly stones that are just as spectacular as natural diamonds. 

A ruby is a member of the corundum mineral family, the same family that sapphires come from. But while sapphires are typically blue in hue, rubies are always red. It is the quality of this red shade that typically determines the rarity of a ruby. The richest shades are highly sought after, and exceptional specimens are quite a bit rarer than some diamonds. 

Rubies have been found in deposits around the world, though most come from Asia. Many of the most exceptional rubies originate in Myanmar. Rubies, like diamonds, can also be crafted in a lab for stones that are environmentally friendly and have minimal inclusions, such as bubbles, fractures or other minerals trapped inside the gem.


Even at a glance, the sparkling diamond and rich-hued ruby boast highly recognizable appearances. 


For both diamonds and rubies, the cut is a key determinant of their sparkle. The ideal cut allows light to perfectly bounce and reflect inside the gem, maximizing their glittering appearance. 

Diamonds are famed for their exceptional sparkle, claiming a high rating on the refractive index. They flaunt mesmerizing dazzle as the light disperses into the colors of the rainbow. 

Rubies possess an eye-catching sparkle, but they’re much less refractive than diamonds. They tend to feature a more subtle and luminous look when they catch the light.


The color of a gemstone is its most important feature. Most often when thinking of a diamond, a beautifully clear stone comes to mind. But diamonds come in many hues, including pink and red. Red diamonds are the rarest in the world. 

Rubies are famed for their bold red color. Color is the key element in determining the value of a ruby, with bright red and purplish-red stones being the most precious. 

Tone, hue and saturation are used to categorize the color of a ruby. Hue describes the color of the ruby, such as purplish-red, or orangish-red. Saturation expresses how vibrant the color is, while tone categorizes how light or dark the ruby is. Rubies that are very light in tone are classified as pink sapphires. 


Gemstone clarity is one of the most important factors in its appearance. The Gemological Institute of America uses a clarity scale with 11 grades to determine the clarity of a diamond. The rarest diamonds are those that rank as Flawless, though most diamonds fall into the Slightly Included (SI) to Very Slightly Included (VS) range. While these diamonds have some inclusions, they are mostly only detectable by a trained diamond grader using 10x magnification. 

Inclusions are present in nearly all rubies, and they can be a key part of choosing a stone. A ruby’s transparency and brilliance are directly affected by the presence of inclusions. Some rubies feature a dramatically clear look, while more included stones look cloudier. The mineral rutile can create needle-like inclusions called silk that can artfully scatter the light inside a ruby.


Diamonds are the world’s hardest substance, scoring a perfect 10 on the Mohs Scale, and nothing can scratch them except for another diamond. This makes them an ideal stone for everyday wear. It is still good practice to remove your ring before taking on rough tasks, though, since a diamond can still be damaged or chipped if it is hit. 

 Rubies are also exceptionally hard gems, featuring a score of 9 on the Mohs scale. Their hardness makes them an excellent choice for everyday wear in an engagement ring. Choosing a stone with no surface-reaching inclusions can also help to ensure durability and resistance to chipping.


Gemstone enhancements improve various qualities of a gemstone, such as clarity or color. High heat and pressure (HPHT) treatments, irradiation treatments and coating treatments are used to change or enhance a diamond’s color. Fracture filling is a treatment to reduce the appearance of white fractures, and laser drilling is occasionally used to remove imperfections for an improved look of clarity. 

 Most rubies have been heat treated to accentuate their red hue and minimize the appearance of inclusions. Silk inclusions can be dissolved or reduced using heat, which can improve the clarity of a ruby.

Meanings and Symbolism

Diamonds, with their captivating sparkle and their status as the world’s hardest substance, are a classic gemstone symbol of timeless love and powerful romance. The absence of hue in the colorless stones makes them a symbol of purity as well.

The vivid red color of a ruby makes it an instant symbol of adoration and passion. Past cultures have also thought of it as a symbol of life and good health, which can mean good luck and fortune through your relationship. Rubies were often the gemstones of royalty, making them a particularly regal choice for a ring.

Popular Ring Styles and Settings

Diamonds feature a dazzling array of options when you’re considering cuts. Each cut emphasizes the personality of the stone in a different way, so a cut often is based on inspiration from the shape and qualities of the raw stone. The round cut is one of the most popular, since it showcases the classic sparkle of a diamond, but there is a wonderful variety to choose from as you find the stone that best expresses your inimitable love.

Rubies also come in a wide selection of cuts. An oval or cushion cut flatters the natural shape of the gemstone. Round cuts are also a beautiful choice, but they are less frequently found since they can involve cutting away more of the natural ruby.

Both diamonds and rubies look stunning in a variety of settings. A single solitaire setting can be a gorgeous way to emphasize a stone. Adding accent stones can be a beautiful way to blend stones into a masterpiece ring. Pavé or halo gemstone details can give the ring an eye-catching sparkling effect, providing a mesmerizing backdrop for your main gem.

Caring for Your Diamond or Ruby Jewelry

• Part of keeping your ring looking beautiful is routine maintenance. 

• Whether you select a diamond or a ruby ring, check it routinely for loose stones, and properly clean the gemstone when it needs it. 

• Taking good care of your jewelry ensures it stays as gorgeous as the day you chose it.

Blue Nile Promise

Whether the vivid red of a ruby has stolen your heart, the timeless glisten of a diamond has you dreaming of a traditional fairytale ring, or you’re still curious about other gorgeous gemstones, we’re here to help guide you through the process of finding the ideal engagement ring. We offer a range of expert services, from complimentary ring sizing as you start your journey, to free returns as you discover which ring is the right choice for you, to complimentary cleaning services to keep your chosen ring looking mesmerizing.

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