Are Serengeti Rubies Real Rubies?


Rubies, like the beautiful specimen shown here, are found in Tanzania as well as in neighboring Kenya. However, if you find “Serengeti rubies” offered for sale, be aware that they may not be from that famous African region. They also may not be rubies at all. “Ruby,” Winza,Tanzania. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
Ruby gemstones, like the beautiful specimen shown here, are found in Tanzania as well as in neighboring Kenya. However, if you find “Serengeti rubies” offered for sale, be aware that they may not be from the famous Serengeti region. They also may not be rubies at all. “Ruby,” Winza,Tanzania. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Question

Has anyone ever heard of Serengeti rubies? We bought two. The seller told us they were new to the US. Each is about 1 carat and a 7×5.3 mm oval. These stones are very clean and pink/purple in color. How rare are Serengeti rubies and what are they worth? If anyone can tell us anything about these gems, we’ll be very grateful.

Thank you,

George and Sheryl

Cape Rubies, River Rubies, and Serengeti Rubies: Beware Of Gems With Two Names

Based on your description of their color, these so-called Serengeti rubies may not be rubies. In the strictest gemological terms (and to the unaided eye), rubies are red. Only a competent professional gemologist can identify and appraise your gemstones.

Many gems have been given two names to mislead the buyer. There are a few with the second name of “ruby.” The most famous example of this was the “Cape Ruby.” In the 1930s, many people paid a high price for rubies but found to their dismay they had bought pyrope garnets. In the 1950s, “River Rubies,” said to be from the Congo River, turned out to be garnet stones, too.

Buyer beware. Do your homework before you buy that gem with more than one name!

Ron Campbell, Central Coast Gem Lab

Basic Information About The Value Of Rubies And Sapphires

The first question that needs to be answered about your Serengeti rubies is, “are they really corundum?” Ruby and sapphire are varieties of this mineral. Many stones are sold with exotic or colorful modifiers attached to the names of well-known and valuable gems like diamonds and rubies. Unfortunately, these stones are often another less valuable species.  From your description, your Serengeti rubies might be garnets.

“Corundum var. Ruby (fluorescent) in Zoisite,” Mundarara Mine, Arusha Region, Tanzania. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
“Corundum var. Ruby (fluorescent) in Zoisite,” Mundarara Mine, Arusha Region, Tanzania. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Assuming your Serengeti rubies are actually corundum, they would be valued as either rubies or sapphires, depending on their color. Many pink corundum stones are not considered rubies. As far as where the stones are from, I don’t know of any ruby or sapphire which has a price premium attached to it solely on the basis of locale, except for Kashmir sapphires of known provenance. So, assuming your Serengeti rubies are really rubies, no matter where they are from, they would be graded based primarily on size, clarity, and color. Since rubies are usually included to some degree, color is the most important factor, assuming the inclusions aren’t preventing transparency. Cut would be a secondary consideration.

Regards,

Roy Kersey

“Serengeti Sunset,” Serengeti National Park, by Anita Ritenour is licensed under CC By 2.0
“Serengeti Sunset,” Serengeti National Park, by Anita Ritenour is licensed under CC By 2.0