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What Are Spinel Gemstones?

What Are Spinel Gemstones?

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What Are Spinel Gemstones?

The spinel gemstones that we know and love today were once confused as rubies and sapphires. In fact, through the years these gems were even placed as "crowned jewels" and mounted to crowns because they were assumed to be rubies or sapphires. Although in the past they were simply valued for their resemblance to other precious stones, today spinel gemstones are valued for themselves. 

Why All the Confusion?

One of the biggest reasons the spinel gemstones got confused with rubies and sapphires was because traders didn't realize that these gems have a different chemical composition.  Gems were largely classified based on their hue. Although spinel gems have a distinct geologic makeup, their beautiful blue or red tones were easily mistaken for the more famous rubies and sapphires. 

Mistaken Identity

While lots of spinel gemstones have been used through history because people thought they were rubies or sapphires, there are 2 specific instances that stand out.

  • The Black Prince's Ruby: As the name states, this was supposedly a ruby, but it was actually spinel gemstone. The Black Prince's "Ruby" was 170 carats and bright red. The first known owner of this "ruby" was Abu Sa'id of the Granada a Moorish Prince in the 14th century.
  • The Timur Ruby:  This spinel which was also mistaken for a ruby was a 352.5-carat gem. This one is still in use in the Royal Collection for a necklace made specially for Queen Victoria in 1853. Originally the stone was found in Afghanistan and had a name and a date inscribed in it that dated it back to 1612.

What Colors Are Available?

Generally speaking, these spinel gemstones come in almost every color including red, blue, pink, orange, purple, and more. Red spinel gemstones are the most sought after color, followed by cobalt blue spinel gemstones. These are also the rarest colors for this gemstone.

Spinel Care and Cleaning

If you own a real spinel gemstone, you should know that these take a little more care than some other gemstones. Here are some tips to keep your gemstone in pristine condition: 

  • Minimize Scratches: Make sure that you store your gemstone away when not in use in either a jewelry box or in a velvet box or bag with a soft cloth.
  • Avoid Intense Heat: When possible, try to avoid intense heat while wearing or storing these gems. When these are exposed to high heat the color will fade over time.
  • Easy To Clean: In order to clean these gemstones, it's best to use warm soapy water and a soft cloth, rather than to use a machine to do it for you.
  • See A Professional:  Lastly, you should be taking your spinel jewelry in to a professional at least 1 time a year for proper cleaning and inspection.

If you are interested in selling your used jewelry or have questions, visit Ralph Mueller & Associates or call 480.949.9229