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All About Spinel Gemstones

All About Spinel Gemstones

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All About Spinel Gemstones

For centuries, spinel gemstones have captured the hearts of jewelry enthusiasts. These rare gemstones have often been mistaken over the years as rubies or sapphires, due to their similar appearance. Synthetic spinel is cheap and common, whereas natural spinel is rare and more moderately priced by comparison. It's important to educate yourself about these differences if you decide to invest in spinel gemstones.

Why Jewelry Enthusiasts Seek Spinels

The attraction to spinel gemstones has a lot to do with color and beauty. Affordable prices also play a key role in the jewelry's popularity. Spinels come in various colors that range from light to dark. In other words, you can find them in different shades of pink, red, orange, purple, blue, and just about any other color except pure green or yellow. Some of these gems are black, brown, or gray.

Spinel comes from a diverse group of minerals that include gahnite, hercynite, ceylonite, picotite and galaxite. These dark minerals are rarely found in other gems. In most gemstones, by contrast, the pure and colorless quality is actually more common than more diverse and darker versions, but less valuable. But with spinel gemstones, pure versions are more rare.

A key reason spinel gemstones are sought after as gifts is that they are birthstones for individuals born in August. The official list of modern birthstones was created by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912. Peridot and sardonyx have been the traditional birthstones for August, but recently spinel was added as an alternative option.

Spinel Qualities

A spinel gemstone has a hardness of 8, which makes it suitable for wearable jewelry, except for high quality engagement rings. Another quality of this stone is that it is not heat-sensitive, while heat treatment can be used for enhancements, they are uncommon. Despite the wide range of colors, it's rare for these gems to change colors, while red and pink versions exhibit strong fluorescence. 

Different types of spinels can be identified by chemical composition, color, and refractive index rating. Most spinels are free of inclusions, although some can be very distinctive. Under close examination, you'll notice small crystals aligned with planes or swirls.

Sources where spinels are found include Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Africa, Australia, Russia, and Vietnam. Sometimes the gems are also found in North America and Japan. The gems usually come from eroded materials washed away from waterways, rather than the original hard rock desposits from which they came. As far as carat weight, many spinels fall in the range of hundreds of carats.

Remember that spinel gemstones are often mixed up with other less valuable jewelry, due to their wide range of colors. If you want the most accurate possible valuation, make sure you get the opinion of a gemologist, who will have the appropriate tools to determine if a stone is natural or synthetic.


Spinel gemstones are attractive and affordable, but many times they are misidentified by novices. If you seek buying or selling spinel gemstones, turn to help from a notable and certified gemologist. Contact Ralph Mueller & Associates to learn more about buying and selling spinel gemstones.