Colour Kaleidoscope – shades of Red

Sally's blog Kaleidoscope of Red Gemstone jewellery from AA Thornton Kettering

Shades of Red

Red has an association with passion, warmth, devotion and cheerfulness which is possibly why it is one of the most frequently used colours in both antique and contemporary jewellery.  So this month’s colour kaleidoscope is the colour red.

If we look at our gemstone family tree, there are lots of red stones out there but the one that springs to most people’s minds first is the precious Ruby, acquiring its name from the Latin word ‘ruber’ meaning red.

Ruby’s rich red colour is due to the presence of chromium.  The stronger and deeper the colour usually will warrant a higher price with the best stones often described as being a “pigeon’s blood” red.

Ruby is July’s birthstone and is also used to celebrate the 15th and 40th wedding anniversary – so if you miss the first opportunity to use this beautiful stone, there is always another chance to use this for an anniversary!

These bright red stones simply gleam when set with diamonds.  We feature three neat eternity rings two set alternately with diamonds or a popular option is to have all rubies.

Whilst preparing last month’s article on pearls I was looking at this neat pearl pendant and earrings which feature a tiny ruby that adds a splash of colour.  I couldn’t leave them out altogether so I have popped into this month’s edition instead!

Rubies are not just set in yellow gold, we found this pretty white gold ruby and diamond cross over ring introduced this year.

Other red stones used in jewellery and to look out for are spinel, rubellite, carnelian, coral and garnets but it is the latter that I will concentrate on as they are more readily available.


Although garnet is found in several colours, red is by far the most common. The red varieties of garnet, called pyrope which is a more blood red and almandine a more purplish red, enjoyed a huge wave of popularity during the Victorian and Edwardian period.  So do keep a look out for these in our pre-owned collections.

Always a favourite of mine is the Celtic inspired garnet drop earrings and matching pendant which are featured here set in 9ct yellow gold.   A matching ring is also available.

When I was studying I attempted enamel work and soon learnt how difficult it was with the red colours being the hardest of them all.  This is why I always appreciate the technique involved in these lovely red plique-a-jour earrings.



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