Spinel is known as the “stone-imitator” because it can be confused with many other gemstones. Most often it is confused with ruby, sapphire and tanzanite.

spinel many stones

This gem is currently being evaluated for its own beauty. It has great brilliance, hardness and a wonderful array of spectacular colors. It is especially beautiful in its color of red, pink, violet and blue.

spinel many colours


Spinel is colorless in the absence of impurities. In practice however trace amounts of different elements are always presented in the crystal and therefore it is found in almost all colors. Coloring agents may be iron, chromium, vanadium and cobalt. Some spinels are known to change their color - from blue-gray in daylight to purple in artificial light.

spinel many gems

Although best known is spinel in red more common are shades of pink. Some blue spinels can rival even the blue sapphires with high quality. Together with tourmaline and diamond it is one of the few gems that can be found naturally in black.

spinel black and colourless

Despite similarities with ruby red spinel can be easily distinguished from it by using a simple gemological tests for specific gravity, hardness and pleochroism.

spinel crystal
spinel monocrystal

In ancient times red spinel was confused for ruby and pyrope, except perhaps in different hardness. One of its oldest names is "balas ruby" in the name of the historic district of Badakhshan (part of present Afghanistan and Tajikistan), where for centuries this gem was known and mined. Another historical name is "lal" (from the Persian name for Badakhshan) used in the old Russian manuscripts.

"The Ruby of..."

In the former Burma (now Myanmar), where the noble spinel is mined traditionally along with the ruby since 1587 it was considered a separate gem type. In the Europe however the delusion continues until the beginning of the XIX century. Because of this many historical spinels have the name "ruby of ...".

First on the list is "The ruby ​​of the Black Prince" - red spinel irregularly shaped and presumably weighting 140-170 carats. Currently it is a part of the British regalia. It is installed on the royal crown in cross ornament just above the diamond "Cullinan II". The stone is named by the nickname of Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, who received it most likely in 1366 as part of the prize for military assistance given to Spain.

black prince crown has a big spinel considered for a long time a ruby

Another famous "rogue" in the list is "Timur ruby '- spinel with deep-pink color and weighs 352 carats. It is believed that it was owned by Timur when he conquered Delhi in 1398. The names of some of its owners are engraved on the stone. Currently 'Timur ruby' is owned by the British royal family. It was presented to Queen Victoria in 1851 by the East India Company. Two years later the jewelry company "Garrard" built it in a necklace along with 3 more spinels and few diamonds.

the famous Timur ruby is actually a  big quality spinel

A famous spinel was found in a field in the Pamirs. In 1986 there was mined a large pink spinel crystal weighing 5.1 kg. Two other gorgeous crystals weighing 520 carats each are kept in the British Museum of Natural History in London. Treasury of the Shah of Iran in Tehran keeps two big beautiful red spinel, which mass is approximately 500 carats and 225 carats. Faceted spinel unusual shade of red with mass of 105 carats is kept in the Louvre. In New York Museum of Natural History there is another red spinel weighing 71.5 carats, found in Sri Lanka. There are several other amazing samples in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC (USA). They are Ceylon purple spinel weighing 45.8 carats, purple spinel weighing 29.7 carats, indigo Burmese spinel weighing 36.1 carats and red spinel weighing 34 carats.

spinel pink
blue spinel

Synthetic spinel different colors began to flow on the market in 20 years of the twentieth century. It imitates not only the natural spinel, but many other gemstones.

Due to the fact that much of the spinel is synthetic many people associate it with a fake. But the real spinel definitely deserves respect and admiration.

blue spinel pear cut

Due to its relatively high hardness (Mohs 8) spinel is an excellent stone for any jewelry including rings. It is resistant to scratches and chips on the edges. Can withstand ultrasonic or steam cleaning.


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