Spinel has long been one of the most under-appreciated gemstones on the market, yet it is coveted by collectors and gemologists for its range of hues and spectacular optical properties. Spinel was recently added as an official birthstone for August, raising its exposure to new heights. Recognized and prized for its hardness, brilliance, and unlike many other gem types, spinel is rarely treated or enhanced in any way. Many believe the name spinel comes from the Greek word for ’spark’. This name suits spinel well since it is a singularly refractive stone and is formed with cubic crystals similar to diamond, which gives this gemstone remarkable brilliance and fire. Watch the video below to see how even rough spinel has an unmatched brilliance.
Spinel comes in many different colors however red and blue are the most notable because for centuries they were mistaken for ruby and sapphire. One of the most famous rubies in history was discovered to not be a ruby at all, but a red spinel. This shocking discovery is what gave birth to the study of gems and gemology. The Black Prince’s stone was given to him in payment for an expensive military campaign, and the “Balas Ruby” became treasured by many English monarchs. This stone, with much appeal and allure is now known to be a spinel.
Spinels are an attractive alternative to ruby and sapphire as the same trace elements that color corundum are also what colors different colors of spinels, which come in an array of colors- ranging from a continuum of intense reds and pinks, down to the cool hues of blue and violet. Chromium causes the fiery red color of red spinels, and a mixture of cobalt and iron colors the striking blue color of stones from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a top source for blue “cobalt” spinels, which are sought after for their vivid, intense blue color. In addition, the Mogok region of Myanmar (much like Burmese rubies) is a renowned source for the finest red and hot-pink spinel. While all colors of spinel are beautiful in their own way, red is the rarest in nature and the most valuable. In addition to similar trace elements, and sources that are shared with ruby and sapphire, spinels form in the same metamorphic rock as corundum and are found in the same deposits. Wear a piece of rare history with any of our beautiful spinel pieces or view them in person at an Omi Privé Authorized Retailer.