Spinel comes from the mineral class of oxides. The spinel owes its name to its octahedral growth form, which in Latin means spina, i.e. thorn or point. Also, the Greek word for sparks – “spinter”, could legitimately be the eponym.

Spinel, purple, Sir Lanka (4.58 ct)

  • Class: Oxide with simple chemical formula

  • Genesis: metamorphic and magmatic

  • Known varieties: Cobalt Spinel (blue)

  • Colors: purple, pink, blue

  • Hardness: 8

  • Optical effects: Star effect

  • Most important occurrences: Myanmar, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Afghanistan (spinel is found similar to corundum in marbles and other metamorphic rocks rich in aluminum).

Spinel has a high hardness. Spinel has a relatively high light refraction and no pleochroism, which means that if it has a continuous color, it will show it from all directions. Rare blue spinels in good color intensity may be colored by cobalt, among other things, a rather unusual cause of color for common gemstones.

Spinel, blue

Spinel, red

In the past, red spinel was often confused with ruby, partly because both faceted stones can show deep, fiery red, and partly because they occur in similar parent rock and can even look similar in the rough! The “Balas Ruby” in the crown of the English Crown Treasure is actually a red spinel.

At present, deposits are known in Tajikistan, which provide good qualities of pink and red spinels.

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