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.
A year ago, August babies rejoiced at the news that spinel had been added as an official birthstone for the month to help alleviate their suffering at having the single-hued peridot as their only choice. Spinel brought to the table multiple colors and great life, along with a great deal of exposure for this underappreciated gemstone. So, what is it about this gem that prompted it’s rise to glory?
Although spinel was not commonly known, it has a rich history and was often misidentified for its close mineral cousin, ruby. In fact, one of the most famous rubies in the world, the Black Prince’s Ruby, is not a ruby at all, it is a 170 carat red spinel. This spinel is the centerpiece in the Imperial State Crown of England and it sits above the 317 carat Cullinan II diamond. It was given to the Black Prince, Edward of Woodstock, in 1327. The 350 carat Timur Ruby, presented to Queen Victoria by the East India Company in 1851, is another example of a spinel that was assumed to be a ruby.
Aside from its historical significance, spinel is an incredibly beautiful gemstone. Vivid red is the most prized color, but pink, purple, orange and blue are also very valuable. FIne red spinel is very rare, even more rare than fine rubies. They were mined historically in the mountainous regions in modern day Afghanistan, but now most spinels are mined in Burma(Myanmar), Tanzania, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Unlike most sapphires and rubies, spinels are not typically treated in any way to improve color or clarity.
Spinel mining in Burma. Photo: GIA – V. Pardieu
At Omi Privé, we love the versatility and liveliness of spinel, pairing it with diamonds and other colored gemtones. As a featured center gem, spinel always grabs attention with its strong color and the way light works through the crystal. As accents in smaller sizes, spinels can provide great contrast to other gems or add additional life to spinels of the same color. Some of our most recognizable pieces have spinels as the focal point, such as the 2016 AGTA Spectrum Award-winning ring below.
We expect the popularity of spinels to grow as the word spreads about this very special gemstone. With spinels being a personal favorite of President and designer Niveet Nagpal, we plan to continue to create jewelry for our collections that includes spinels as the focal point and as accents. So, keep your eye out for the latest releases and look to add a spinel piece to your own personal collection.
Accessorizing with the Colors of the Season
The trend-setting institution that is Pantone shares with the world on an ongoing basis the most important fashion colors for Spring and Fall seasons. What do you do with this information? Do you immediately go out shopping, with palette in hand, to ensure you are on trend with your personal apparel? Or do you give it a quick glance, pick out a couple of your favorites and file it away for future reference? The important aspect from our perspective of this guide to the upcoming season’s colors is how do we recommend our jewelry as an accessory to outifts in these hues.
For example, let’s look at what we might suggest for Island Paradise, a light, refreshing blue color. The obvious choice if you were the type of person who likes matching accessories, would be something with aquamarine as the featured gemstone. The light, airy feel of aqua would pair beautifully with this color. What about a complementary color? We would suggest something with a pastel feel, such as a light pink or peach. A piece featuring a light pink sapphire, spinel, morganite, or in this case a Padparadscha sapphire, would be a great match.
If we look at the more “earthy” colors in this palette, aside from finding matching colors, we will also have the opportunity to select colors that really pop against a warmer base color. If we look at the the color Greenery, which is also Pantone’s “Color of the Year” for 2017, we would match this color with gemstones such as peridot, chrysoberyl or green tourmaline, like this ring below. On the other side of the spectrum, you would look to something in a bolder purple, red or pink as a suitable companion. As you can see from this Duet ring, we love combining green with purple spinel centers.
For another example, let’s consider a rich blue color like Lapis Blue. One of our specialties is blue sapphire, so matching this color with existing Omi jewelry is relatively easy. The complementary color for a bold blue color like this would be an equally bold orange hue – which we would find in our new orange tourmaline ring seen below. We can also find similar colors in spessartite garnets and orange sapphires.
There is a myriad of options when it comes to accessorizing this Spring’s fashion color palette with fabulous colored gemstones. Knowing and understanding how colors accent each other will go a long way in developing your fashion credibility amongst your peers and clients. Pay attention to what the trends are and take the time to pick out the best options for you to ensure you are trend-savvy in your day-to-day life.
Omi Privé recently won two AGTA Spectrum Awards, a jewelry design competition that has been held annually for over 30 years. What does winning a design competition mean for the designer, and the consumer who might be considering buying a winning piece? There are many factors that go into the value of the award for all involved.
Let’s look at the Spectrum Awards specifically, which is considered one of the most prestigious design competitions in the world This competition is produced annually by the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), a trade association who’s mission is to promote colored gemstones. The competition provides value for the association by encouraging jewelry designers to use colored gemstones in their designs, hopefully purchased from AGTA gemstone dealers. What helps set the Spectrum Awards apart is that each piece of jewelry is physically judged by a panel of jewelry industry experts that changes each year, ensuring that not one form of design is ever favored over another and that the smallest of details can affect the final outcome. To win a Spectrum Award is a benchmark that many designers aspire to achieve.
2016 AGTA Spectrum Award winning Spinel ring
Many gem dealers and designers collaborate on individual pieces to take advantage of the opportunity for exposure for individual gemstones and design aesthetics. Each year the competition receives between 500 and 600 entries. Each entrant knows that they are going to be competing against the best jewelry designers in the US and Canada, so everyone tends to put their best foot forward and sends in their best work. As the judges work their way through each of the entries, they must consider the quality of the gemstones, the quality of the workmanship and the design aesthetic. It usually takes two days of judging to determine the winning entries. Winners are announced the following day and the media are invited to see all the winners and other entries. The media values the competition because it offers a rare opportunity to look for new trends and emerging designers all in one location.
2016 AGTA Spectrum Award winning Alexandrite ring
designed in collaboration with Remy Rotenier
Winning designers benefit from an incredible amount of exposure driven by AGTA’s public relations efforts to share the results of the competition. AGTA and the media feature the winning designs throughout the year until the following year’s competition. The designers themselves publicize their wins through traditional marketing channels and social media. Yet, the true value for the designer who wins is that their work stood out against some of the top designers in the world. If they are a new designer, this exposure can serve as a launching point for their collection. For an established designer, a win reinforces their standing and provides additional caché for their jewelry lines.
For the pieces that win, many are sold quickly to collectors of those designers. For a client to be able to own an actual award-winning design gives them another opportunity to talk about the jewelry they love. Other designers hold on to their winning pieces and feature them in shows and museums. Many designs are incorporated into the designer’s collections in a bigger way to take advantage of the exposure and potential trends developing as a result of their win. We love to see our pieces being worn and enjoyed by our clients, so our award-winning designs are made available to our collectors. The awards are a welcome recognition for the quality of work we do, but in the end, it is all about these pieces adorning the people who appreciate their beauty.
For more than a century, August babies have had to embrace peridot and sardonyx (a reddish-brown quartz) as their official birthstones. Peridot is a polarizing gemstone – many people like the yellow-green hued gem, but many do not. But fashionable people born in the eighth month can rejoice in the streets as they now have a great additional option – the spectacular spinel.
The American Gem Trade Association and Jewelers of America recently announced their decision to add spinel to the official birthstone list for August. This is only the third update to the list that was created in 1912. The last addition took place in 2002, when tanzanite was added as a birthstone for December.
Spinel is a gemstone that deserves more exposure and recognition. For centuries, red spinels were mistaken for rubies and it wasn’t until more modern testing techniques were developed that the difference was identified. In fact, one of the most prominent “rubies”, the Black Prince Ruby in the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels, is actually a 170 carat red spinel. While a deep, vivid red is the most valuable color of spinel, the gem naturally occurs in a spectrum of colors including pink, blue, purple, yellow, black and green hues.
Spinels are often called the “Gemologist’s Gemstone” because of their fabulous properties, including single refractivity and octahedral crystal structure. Unlike many gemstones, spinels are almost never treated in any way to enhance their color or clarity. Cutters are able to release the color and life of these natural gems by faceting the rough crystals into a multitude of shapes.
Omi Privé has featured spinels in many of its pieces over the years and will continue to do so in upcoming collections. Niveet is passionate about sourcing beautiful spinels, then designing jewelry around them with complementary colors. Just recently, one of our finest spinel pieces was recognized with a prestigious AGTA Spectrum Award – which honors jewelry design, craftsmanship and gemstone quality.
About a year ago, interesting colors of purple spinel started showing up in the market. Spinel comes in a beautiful range of reds, pinks, blues and purples, but until now I haven’t seen much of the intense purple you see in the photograph at the top. This deep, rich purple is very similar to the color of alexandrite when viewed in incandescent light. Read more »
by Nicolette Kovacevich, G.G.
Manager of Fine Jewelry, Omi Privé
With the start of the new year, requests and purchases are already being made for Valentine’s Day. I decided to do a bit of research for this significant holiday.
Valentine’s Day can be traced to an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia, which was celebrated annually in mid-February. The festival was to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Later, in the third century AD, Emperor Claudius II banned marriage in an effort to strengthen the Roman military. He believed that single males made better soldiers. A defiant Roman priest named Father Valentine performed marriage ceremonies in secret. The emperor caught on, and sentenced him to death. It is stated that while imprisoned, Father Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. On the morning of his execution, February 14th, he passed the young girl a note, and signed it “from your Valentine.” Thus, a tradition was born.
Today, 1 billion cards are sent each Valentine’s Day. 220 million roses are produced for this day alone in the U.S. Every year, an estimated 6 million couples are likely to get engaged on February 14th. One of the most interesting facts is that $4 billion is spent on jewelry to be given on Valentine’s Day every year.
Currently, there are many captivating Omi Privé pieces to be gifted this holiday. It was difficult to compile this list of favorites!
The color specialists at Pantone have announced the color of 2015, a rich reddish brown that is earthy and sophisticated. “Marsala is a subtly seductive shade, one that draws us in to its embracing warmth,” states Leatrice Eisman, Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute®. Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies a satisfying richness while its red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness.
Marsala is a very versatile shade. The color is flattering against many skin tones. It is a great go-to color that provides a notable pop of sophistication. Regarding colored gems, Marsala is represented in a variety of stones, including pink tourmaline, ruby, spinel and imperial topaz. However, it is not always necessary to represent the color of the year directly through individual stones. Color blocking to the Marsala hue is a great way to utilize jewelry you already own or aspire to own. The combinations are nearly unlimited when combining pinks, pale blues and greens. Color combinations may include turquoise and teal, as well as blues in the more vibrant range, which act as a compliment to Marsala. This can also be achieved with stronger vibrant raspberry pink stones, aquamarine, cornflower blue sapphire, green tourmaline, and Paraiba tourmaline (or any stone providing similar colors).
Niveet Nagpal, President and head designer of Omi Privé creates timeless designs utilizing a variety of colors. “I don’t like to be boxed in by one “Color of the Year” for creating my designs. I prefer to craft pieces with bold and vibrant greens, blues and pinks set in warmer metals including yellow and rose gold. Not only do they stand on their own, but they compliment the 2015 Color of the Year as well.”
A minty green tourmaline set in 18K yellow gold is a great compliment to a patterned design featuring Marsala.
The cool blue of a radiant cut Aquamarine offsets the warmness of Marsala in any outfit.
Make a bold statement by pairing Marsala with a striking blue as seen in this Paraiba tourmaline ring set in 18K yellow gold.
This pink tourmaline has a hue like Marsala and would look stunning paired with a Lucite Green dress (another spring 2015 Pantone color).
Be vibrant and incorporate hints of Marsala in your jewelry and clothing! This purple spinel ring is flanked by two “Marsala” hue spinels, which pair well with the warmth of rose gold.