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Antique Ruby Rings Value (Rarest & Most Valuable Sold For $2.6 Million) – History Tools

Antique Ruby Rings: A Collector‘s Guide to History, Value, and Rarity

There‘s something undeniably captivating about antique ruby rings. These pieces of wearable history often feature stunning deep red gemstones set in intricately crafted gold or platinum designs that harken back to eras gone by. Many antique ruby rings are one-of-a-kind creations that make them highly sought after by collectors. In fact, the most valuable examples have sold for upwards of $2 million at auction in recent years.

Whether you‘re an avid collector, a history enthusiast, or simply appreciate fine craftsmanship and beautiful jewels, antique ruby rings offer something special. In this guide, we‘ll delve into the fascinating background of these rings, reveal some of the most expensive examples ever sold, and provide expert tips for identifying, valuing, buying and selling these precious pieces.

The Allure of Rubies Through the Ages
Rubies are the red variety of the mineral corundum, colored by traces of chromium. These gemstones have been revered for millennia, with the earliest known examples found in jewelry from ancient Burma (modern-day Myanmar) dating back over 2,000 years. In Europe, rubies became highly fashionable in jewelry during the Medieval period. Rubies symbolized passion, protection and prosperity.

It was during the Georgian and Victorian eras of the 18th and 19th centuries that ruby rings hit their peak of popularity, especially in England. Jewelry from this time was all handcrafted, with no two pieces exactly alike. Artisans often incorporated rubies into ornate gold settings embellished with enamel, seed pearls, and other gemstones. Distinctive elements like engraved shoulders, detailed galleries, and use of silver or gold foil backings to enhance the rubies‘ color are all hallmarks of antique craftsmanship.

In the early 20th century, the Art Deco movement ushered in a bolder, more streamlined aesthetic in jewelry, but ruby rings remained in vogue. Geometric designs, caliber-cut rubies, and sleek platinum or white gold mountings were prevalent. Technological advances also allowed for more gem cutting options to maximize brilliance, like the "trough cut" pioneered by Wilhelm Schmidt.

Today, antique ruby rings crafted over 100 years ago by famous jewelry houses like Cartier or Tiffany & Co. are among the most rare and valuable. More so if they feature exceptional Burmese rubies, which are prized for their vibrant "pigeon‘s blood" red color. But rings need not bear a big name to be desirable to collectors if they exhibit superior gemstone quality and a artistic, finely wrought setting.

Valuing an Antique Treasure
So what goes into determining an antique ruby ring‘s value? As with other fine jewelry, the primary factors are the inherent value of the materials (precious metals and gemstones), the quality of the craftsmanship, and the rarity or uniqueness of the piece. But there are some specific elements to consider when it comes to antique rings:

Age and Authenticity: A true "antique" should be at least 100 years old. "Vintage" pieces are newer, roughly 50-100 years old, while anything under 50 years is considered "estate" jewelry. Beware of modern replicas being passed off as genuine antiques. Do your research on the specific style, materials, and construction techniques to ensure age authenticity.

Maker or Brand: If the ring is signed or hallmarked by a renowned jewelry house like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Boucheron, Mauboussin, etc., this will significantly boost its value and demand with collectors.

Gemstone Quality: For the ruby itself, color is king – the most highly valued will be pure, intense red Burmese specimens without any brownish or purplish tints. Clarity is also key, as inclusions can detract from both appearance and durability. The cut should maximize color and brilliance. Carat weight has a big impact on price, especially in sizes over 1 carat.

metal purity: Most antique rings used 18K gold or platinum. Higher gold purity (20K-22K) or use of platinum can indicate an older, higher value piece. Any other gemstones should also be assessed for their quality.

Condition: With antiques, some wear is expected, but damage like cracks, broken prongs, or missing stones will lower the value. Many rings will have been resized or repaired over the years, which is fine as long as the original integrity of the ring is intact.

Provenance: Any paperwork like an original receipt or certificate of authenticity from the maker will increase value. So can a noteworthy prior owner. But be wary of unverified claims in this area.

Rarity and Style: One-off, highly intricate, or innovative designs for their time period will command a premium. Rings that exemplify the best artistry of their era are most desirable.

Recent Auction Highlights
To give you an idea of the upper echelons of the antique ruby ring market, here are a few exceptional examples that have sold at auction in the last 5 years:

• "Ratnaraj" Ruby Ring, ca. 1900 – Set with a 10.46 carat Burmese ruby in a bombe-style platinum and diamond mounting. Sold at Christie‘s Hong Kong in 2019 for $6,943,198.

• Ruby and Diamond Ring, ca. 1910 – Oval-shaped Burmese ruby weighing 9.20 carats, flanked by pear-shaped diamonds in silver and gold. Possibly contains elements from a 17th century jewel. Sold at Christie‘s Geneva in 2010 for $2,629,000.

• Ruby and Diamond Ring, ca. 1920 – Cushion-shaped Burmese ruby of 7.03 carats, set horizontally in a diamond-encrusted platinum Art Deco mounting. Sold at Christie‘s New York in 2016 for $1,650,500.

• Cartier Art Deco Ruby and Diamond Ring – Burmese ruby cabochon weighing approximately 7.00 carats in a white gold and diamond Cartier mounting, ca. 1920s. Sold at Sotheby‘s New York in 2019 for $1,215,000.

• "Explosive Red" Ruby Ring – Burmese ruby weighing 5.14 carats, set in a bombe-style diamond and platinum ring, ca. 1900. Sold at Sotheby‘s Hong Kong in 2020 for $1,166,144.

While six and seven figure sums are outliers reserved for the best of the best, exceptional antique ruby rings regularly sell in the tens to hundreds of thousands. More modestly sized rings by famous makers with gems of fine quality can often be found in the $20,000-$80,000 range. Budget-minded collectors can uncover charming antique ruby and diamond cluster rings or three stone rings for $3,000-$15,000 at auction with some patience and specialist guidance.

Buying and Selling Tips
If you‘re in the market to purchase an antique ruby ring, the most important thing is to work with a reputable dealer, whether that‘s an auction house, antique jewelry specialist, or established online seller. Read the listing details carefully and don‘t be afraid to ask questions about anything that‘s unclear, especially regarding the ruby‘s carat weight, measurements, origin, and any treatments. For a significant purchase, it‘s always wise to get a second opinion via an independent appraisal from a trusted authority like the GIA or AGL.

When it comes to selling an antique ruby ring you currently own, you‘ll generally get the highest offers by working with an auction house that specializes in fine jewelry and has a track record of strong prices for antique pieces. They‘ll be able to market your ring to the right audience of collectors and help with authenticating and appraising it.

If you prefer to sell online yourself, look to reputable marketplaces that cater to luxury goods like 1stdibs, Etsy (for their curated antique fine jewelry category), and eBay. Detailed photos and descriptions are a must. Consider investing in an appraisal or gem lab report upfront so you can price the ring appropriately and reassure potential buyers. Be completely transparent about any flaws or repairs.

From the legendary Burmese mines to the royal courts of Europe to today‘s glittering auction blocks, antique ruby rings have a rich and romantic history. These miniature works of art are portals to the past, carrying the mystique of the famous owners, expert artisans, and world events they‘ve witnessed. For discerning collectors, they offer the thrill of owning a piece of jewelry that is truly like no other.

If you‘ve been bitten by the antique ruby ring bug, embrace the hunt for that perfect treasure that speaks to you. But do arm yourself with knowledge. In this rarefied world, it pays to become an expert in spotting quality and authenticity. Condition is key, and a maker‘s name can matter tremendously. Most of all, buy what you love and let yourself get a little lost in the story behind each ring. Because in the end, the true value of an antique ruby ring lies in its power to delight and captivate, its ability to become a part of your own personal history.