Posted on by Nevil Agrawal

What do the Black Prince's ruby, the Iranian Crown Jewels, and Timur's ruby have in common?

Well, for starters, none of them are rubies!

These famous jewels are actually spinel gemstones. While the spinel gemstone may sound new to the layman, it's a well-known and sought-after gem amongst jewelers and gemologists. Its history is long and rich. The spinel gem has been used in jewelry since ancient times.

Throughout the ages, this stunning jewel has been mistaken for corundum. This is because spinel stones are found alongside rubies and sapphires in nature. But the spinel gemstone isn't lavished with the same attention that sapphires and rubies are.

Many experts find this to be unfair. This is because spinels are rarer in the market and less in demand. With color and characteristics as stunning as even the mightiest ruby – the spinel is indeed one of the gorgeous gems.

What Is Spinel?


While spinel gems are found along with corundum, they have different chemical compositions. The spinel gemstone is an oxide of magnesium and aluminum. Ruby is just an oxide of aluminum. Spinels start crystallizing rubies once the magnesium is depleted. This is why they're located in the same deposits.

Red-pink spinels and rubies share the same chromophore element. It's understandable as to why these two have been confused for centuries. Only in 1783 did the mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle differentiate the ruby and the spinel. This point also saw the birth of a new discipline – namely gemology.

Spinels are gemstones found in metamorphic rocks. They're specifically found in deposits of marble and limestone. The name may be derived from the word 'spina,' Latin for 'thorn.' This could refer to the gems' crystals shaped like spines. Its crystals are octahedral and isometric.

Spinel has also been called the 'balad ruby.' This is a reference to the Afghanistani/Tajikistani mines. These gems have been used throughout time as precious jewelry and decorations.

Where is Spinel found?


Spinel is found in many countries all over the world. The most famous and sought-after variety is found in Burma. In fact, some of the gems found here are so perfect that local legend says they were polished by spirits.

The vivid red spinel is a pure red, blood-colored gemstone found in the Burmese mines of Mogok. Burma is also home to the hot pink and Jedi spinel variety. These can also be found in Tanzania and Sri Lanka. Gorgeous spinel gems in black, Cobalt, and lavender are also found in these countries.  Vietnam is also home to the valuable cobalt blue spinel.

Other important countries for spinel mining are Madagascar, Tajikstan, and Afghanistan. They're also mined in Kenya, Russia, and Thailand.

Types of


Are you wondering how much spinels are worth? There are many factors at play. The most important one is the color of the gem.

  • Red: The red spinels are also called chromite. Keep in mind that red spinels with medium to high saturations are the most valuable.
  • Pink – These spinels are also sought-after. They vary from pastel pinks to juicy neon red-pinks. Avoid the gems with orange or violet shades. These are declining pink spinels.
  • Blue – Blue spinels are rare and the second most valuable. Avoid choosing a dark shade if you're going with blue spinel. These are also known as Cobalt spinels.
  • Black – These are also called pleonaste. When cut, they look like black diamonds. When carefully polished, these are very glossy.
  • Colorless – These are the purest form of the spinel stone. It's highly transparent and can look quite gorgeous. But this is the least sought-after spinel crystal.
  • Synthetic spinel – This is a human-made spinel that is much less in value than the real gemstone. Many opt for this as a more economical alternative. But beware that you aren't being tricked into purchasing a synthetic spinel when you're looking for a real one.

The 4 C's of Spinel Gemstone


  • Clarity: The paler pastel-colored spinel gems are normally clear. But the deeper hued gemstones may have inclusions. These create a finger-print like effect that is reflected inside the gem. Red and pink spinels are clearer to the eye than rubies. Spinel gemstones with fewer inclusions are considered more valuable. They have a single refractive index. Occasionally, spinel stones have long wispy cracks. Once you cut these en cabachon, they create a stunning star-like effect.
  • Cut: You'll find most spinel is cut in oval, round, or cushion shapes. This is to save weight since spinel is rare in the market. Most raw spinel of fine quality is cut in non-standard sizes. Spinel's Moh's scale hardness measures at 8, which is harder than both tourmaline and garnet. This why choosing spinel as an engagement ring gemstone is a great idea.

    Highly faceted spinel gemstones (emerald-cut, square-cut, rectangle-cut) are the most valuable.

  • Carat: Although the legendary spinel gems we've heard of have been large, spinels are normally under 5 carats in size. Calibrated or standard-cut stones are available in 6x4 mm and 7x5 mm. These are mostly cut into suitable sizes for standard jewelry. Certain expensive spinels are up to 20 carats or more available, too.
  • Color: The most valuable spinels are the vibrant reds and blues. No wonder they're mistaken for sapphires and rubies. The most expensive is the red and pink variety. Spinel's tone and saturation influence its value. Dark toned spinels are less in value.
    Then come the cobalt blue spinel, followed by the orange spinel. The least valuable gemstones are the light-colored ones. Spinels don't come in green or yellow.
    The purest of spinel gems are actually colorless. It's different inclusions of other minerals that give different spinel gems their color. Red and pink colors are due to chromium. Blue and black spinel gems owe their color to iron inclusions. When combined with iron, Cobalt creates the intensely blue spinels that were once mistaken for sparkling sapphires.

Treatment of Spinel


Unlike rubies and sapphires, most spinels in the market are free from external treatments. That being said, spinel can be heat treated. By doing so, the brown and orange tones in the spinel are removed. This increases the blue or red saturation in the stone, thus artificially imitating a high-value spinel gemstone.

Store spinel in cotton or soft velvet cloth. Keep them away from other hard stones lest they get scratched. Also, keep them away from harsh chemicals.


How do I keep my spinel clean?


Spinel gemstones don't require special care. You can gently wash them with soapy water and a soft cloth. Try and avoid harsh heat as they may cause the gem's color to fade. Avoid direct flame.

As spinel gems are hard, they can be placed in a jeweler's pickle and cleaned with steam. Don't use ultrasonic cleaners for too long.

Spinel uses


  • Since spinel is so rare, the demand for it is less. But these are truly charming stones to be used in jewelry.
  • They're perfect as earrings, engagement rings, pendants, and necklaces.
  • Spinel is the gemstone used to commemorate the 22nd wedding anniversary. Perhaps a beautiful spinel anniversary gift set for your beloved?
  • Spinel can be used with yellow gold, silver, and white gold to make exquisite jewelry. They go well with diamonds, pearls, sapphires, and emeralds.

Spinel meaning and healing properties


  • Spinel enhances your positive characteristics and renews your energy.
  • It can help you make peace with your inner demons.
  • Different colored spinel stones have different psychological uses. The red spinel is said to give you the courage to face your fears. The Cobalt spinel enhances your communication skills.
  • Spinel can help you treat infertility.
  • It can help you heal from illness or trauma.
  • This gemstone protects your joints, bones, and muscles.

Spinel metaphysical properties and chakra connection


  • Spinel's metaphysical properties include enhancing love.
  • This gemstone is said to help the wearer overcome their ego and commit themselves to devotion.
  • Spinel is associated with passion.
  • Wearing this gemstone may increase your lifespan.
  • Spinel stones align with your heart chakra.
  • It will stimulate love, compassion, and kindness within you.

Spinel birthstone


The spinel birthstone is meant for those born in August. This vibrant gem comes in a riot of colors, both warm and cool. This gemstone is quite special as it's only the 3rd gemstone to be added to the birthstone list since 1912.

Where should you buy a spinel?


Buy spinel crystals from sources that are recommended and trusted. Many may try to sell you tampered with stones. They may also try to pass off inferior quality gems. Look for an outlet with excellent reviews. Find one with a return policy for maximum security.

You can also reach out to us. GemsForJewels offers good quality spinel stones with a coating that doesn’t chip off easily. At a reasonable price, we ensure you get the perfect spinel stone required for your jewelry designs. We're an established retailer of precious and semi-precious gems. We possess premium quality natural spinel stones in a variety of cuts and colors.