The Story of Spinel Gemstones


Consumer Information

What color is it?: This gemstones can be a variety of colors from colorless to blue to red…and a lot of colors in between.

What is the story behind this gemstone?: Because it has been laboratory grown for a number of years many people think of a spinel as an imitation or synthetic gemstone. But in reality a spinel is an exceptionally fine and rare gemstone with a long standing place in history. In fact, for many, many years the British Crown Jewels boasted what was supposed to be the Black Prince’s Ruby, which was assumed to be a very large natural ruby crystal. More recently, however, the stone was found to indeed be a beautiful natural red spinel.

Can I wear it everyday?:Absolutely, yes. Wears very well.

Is it expensive?: It can be. Large red spinels can be quite expensive.

Is it a birthstone?: Not really. But in some cultures the red spinel is interchangeable with a ruby so it can be a birthstone.

What do I need to know before going shopping?: Above all be sure and stay with a well trained gemologist. Red spinel is quite difficult to synthesize. However, it is done as seen in the photograph at left along with a nice synthetic blue spinel crystal. You will notice that the red crystal is broken in the back which often happens with growing synthetic red spinel. But it can be done and it can be a difficult identification for an untrained jeweler or inexperienced gemologist. And also note, the natural spinel crystal at the top of this page is an eight sided octahedron. And so is the synthetic spinel at left. Showing that the synthetics will indeed duplicate the natural in every property. So be sure and stay with a trained gemologist when shopping for spinels.


General Information

Source: Sri Lanka, Brazil, Thailand, and United States are most notable sources

Chemical: Mg(Al2O4) magnesium aluminum oxide

Formation: Mostly in metamorphic rocks but occasionally in igneous formations

Crystal System: Cubic as shown above

Unusual Properties: None

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