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Gem Spinel possesses beauty rarity and durability the hallmarks of a valuable gemstone. In recent years has its prestige soared. Thanks to the rising status of gemstone collectors searching the world for beautiful and rare gemstones.

Spinel shows a wide range of colors across spectrum hues from red to violet. Other common colors of gem spinel used in jewelry are blue and purple. Yellow and brown spinel stones are seldom seen.

Rarer spinel’s colors are the greens which mainly serve to collector’s market. This unique green variety of spinel is sometimes called Ceylonite.  There are true black spinel too, this shade of spinel commonly mined and found close to sapphire mining area like Kanchanaburi province of Thailand. Black spinels are popular in mourning jewelry and silver jewelry.

Star spinels are rare on rare and occasionally found when the piece of spinel contain sufficient rutile needle inclusions. To cause asterism stone need to be cut in cabochon style such stones will usually show off four ray star and not the six ray star seen in corundum. Nevertheless six-rayed spinel stars caused by different mineral inclusions have also been reported.

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Above: Color change spinel that appears blue under daylight and the same piece change to lavender hue under incandescent light.(PHOTO that COURTESY of modernjeweler.com)

Spinel that has the "alexandrite effect" means it has the property of changing color when going from day like to artificial light or incandescent light. This is extremly rare variety of spinel.

spn0006.pngAt present day, Myanmar is a notable locality of pink spinel

The red and blue stones, some of the latter purplish in artificial light, are the most important in jewelry. Spinels do not, however, quite reach the splendor of ruby and sapphire. In the old days the red spinel were called “Ballas Ruby” of “Spinel ruby”, names which by common consent and modern legislation have now been abandoned.

Spinel forms octahedral shaped crystals like two of the Egyptian pyramids base to base. This is a form also taken by Diamond. In “Mokok” Upper area of Myanmar small, bright red octahedral crystals with brilliant facets are found. Large, fine red spinels are not so common and command premium price in today’s market.

Rather like Almandite and Pyrope garnets, spinels, which consist of a double oxide of magnesium and aluminum, may have their magnesium replaced by zinc to produce a rare variety which goes by the name Gahnospinel. This is of more interest to scientist or gemstone collectors than by jeweler. When the change from magnesium to zinc is complete, these zinc spinels are call gahnite, but the green crystals are only fashioned to satisfy the collector’s whim.

Spinel is found worldwide, but the main localities for gem material are Myanmar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Tajikistan. Spinel is also grown synthetically in a number of colors, though these synthetic spinels don’t generally display the same colors as natural spinel. Their colors usually imitate more common stone like blue sapphire, aquamarine, and blue zircon. Bright colorless stones are also produced which are used to imitate diamond in cheaper jewelry.

Other colors made are fine pink, red, and blue. Blue spinel that are made to imitate blue zircon, blue sapphire, and aquamarine are easily identify by the red or orange colors seen when they are viewed through Chelsea color filter. Colorless spinel, is not commonly found naturally however they can also be identified rather easy by using “short wave” under UV lamp. These colorless spinel will appear to be chalky blue color while natural stone will have no reaction to the same short wave in UV lamp.

Historical Spinel

Did you know that gem spinel was not recognized as a separate gem species until the 1800s. And this is true as many historically important red gems, were long been identified as ruby. For instance, “The famous BLACK PRINCE’S RUBY” a bead-shaped red spinel weighing around 170 carats, approximately the size of a chicken egg is currently set in the cross pattée in the front of the Imperial State Crown.


This extra ordinary piece spinel was believed to come from mine in the mountains of Afghanistan. It first appeared in the historical records of fourteenth-century Spain, and was owned by a succession of Moorish and Spanish Kings. Edward, Prince of Wales—the “Black Prince”—received the stone in 1367 as payment for a battle victory. Since then, many other English monarchs including Henry VIII started to cherish the gemstone.

After years of being used as one of the center pieces of England’s Crown Jewels, tt has survived fires, attempted theft, and World War II bombing raids. The “Black Prince’s Ruby” is now displayed in the Tower of London along with the Koh-i-Noor diamond as one of the centerpieces of England’s Crown Jewels.

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