It’s time for us to let you in on a little secret… Out of all the coloured gemstones out there, if we had to bet money on a type of gemstone that every jeweller has in their personal safe, it would be Spinel.
Why Spinel? They are truly the jewellery industry’s best kept secret because of the following reasons:
- They are almost never treated. Unlike Sapphire where heat treatment is commonplace (over 90% of Sapphire is heat treated to improve colour and clarity), Spinel is beautiful as it is. Even if their colour is modified by grey tones, it is accepted as part of their beauty. Just look at grey spinels! They’re stunning!
- They have superb clarity and are real sparkle bombs! Spinel, along with Diamond and Garnet, belong to a small group of gemstones which are ‘singly refractive’ and known for their supreme sparkle.
- They are underpriced for the beauty and rarity that they possess. A bright red Spinel is a fraction of the cost of a pure red, no heat Ruby of the same size (if you can even find one that’s as clean!). As Spinel is still relatively unknown next to the typical ‘Big Three’ of Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, Spinel prices reflect that. That said, Spinel prices, just like Paraiba and Alexandrite, have been growing at an exponential rate.
Here are some fun facts about these luscious gemstones:
- A close cousin of Sapphire (Corundum), Spinel in its pure form is clear
- Their bright hues are made possible because of impurities like chromium (for red Spinel) and Cobalt or Iron (for blue Spinel)
- Spinel crystals are so perfectly formed in their octahedra (8 sided crystals) that in Burma, they’re called nat thwe or ‘polished by the spirits’
- They’re found in similar regions as Sapphires and Rubies which is probably why they were often confused for each other in the past. In fact, many of the world’s most famous rubies, like the “Black Prince’s Ruby” and the “Timur Ruby” in the Crown Jewels of England have been confirmed to be large red Spinels.
Maddy Barber has once said, “I’ve always loved Spinel. They’re basically the gem that got me started – their lustre, their colour, their story. To me, they’re the Cinderella of gemstones. She was always beautiful and always there, but people only took notice of her after her Fairy Godmother worked her magic. For years, they’ve been overlooked, in favour of the better known Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald, and only those who KNEW could appreciate it. They’re known to be the 5th precious gemstone and with one look, you’ll know why. In fact, some of the most famous large Rubies in the world, such as the Black Prince’s Ruby, part of the British Crown Jewels, are actually Spinel. Mahenge Spinel especially is known for their unique, remarkable glow which, like high quality Paraiba Tourmaline, possesses a kind of energy that glows even under low light conditions.”