Spinel

The Black Prince’s Ruby. The Timur Ruby. For centuries, spinel, the great imposter, masqueraded as ruby in Europe’s crown jewels.

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BIRTHSTONES &
ANNIVERSARIES

Although not an official US birthstone, spinel has long been mistaken for ruby by emperors and monarchs. Many of the famous “rubies” of history were actually spinels.

 

ABOUT SPINEL

Until recently, spinel was an underappreciated gem with little consumer recognition. Increasing demand for ruby alternatives rekindled appreciation for spinel’s rich red color and history. In ancient times, southeast Asia’s mines yielded exceptional large spinel crystals, which became the treasured property of kings and emperors, often passing through many hands as spoils of war.


WHY WE LOVE THIS GEMSTONE

NAT THWE

Spinel crystals are so perfect, in Burma they are said to be nat thwe or “polished by the spirits.”

BLACK PRINCE

The famous 14th century Black Prince’s Ruby in the British Imperial Crown is actually a red spinel.

1783

Mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle identifies spinel as a different mineral than ruby.

STUNNING COLOR

Singly refractive and often very transparent, red spinel rivals ruby’s color but it costs much less.

AMAZING CHROMIUM

Red spinel is colored by chromium, the same trace element that colors ruby and emerald.

BIRTH OF GEMOLOGY

Distinguishing spinel from ruby gave birth to the science of gemology.


QUALITY FACTORS

An assessment of the following characteristics determines spinel’s value.

CUT Spinel is most often cut in cushion and oval shapes. When properly proportioned it has excellent brilliance.

CUT
Spinel is most often cut in cushion and oval shapes. When properly proportioned it has excellent brilliance.

COLOR The most valued spinel colors are bright red, cobalt blue, and vivid pink and orange. Pale lavender is more affordable.

COLOR
The most valued spinel colors are bright red, cobalt blue, and vivid pink and orange. Pale lavender is more affordable.

CLARITY Spinel with no visible inclusions is preferred. The more prominent the inclusions, the less valuable the gem.

CLARITY
Spinel with no visible inclusions is preferred. The more prominent the inclusions, the less valuable the gem.

CARAT WEIGHT Fine-color spinel is rare above five carats. Most fine-quality rough is cut to non-standard sizes to save weight.

CARAT WEIGHT
Fine-color spinel is rare above five carats. Most fine-quality rough is cut to non-standard sizes to save weight.