Spinel Gemstone

Spinel Gemstone

Published On: 07-24-2012 12:29am

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Category: Gemstones

I’m intrigued by the gemstone Spinel.  I was surprised how many colors and the history of the gemstone.  Here is what I found.

Before the advent of modern gemological techniques, red Spinels and Rubies were confused for hundreds of years. In fact, many famous rubies in crown jewels around the world are actually spinels. The Black Prince's Ruby on the British Imperial State Crown is a 170-carat red Spinel. The Timor Ruby that has the engraved names of the Mogul emperors on its face was once thought to be a Ruby as well. This magnificent 352-carat stone is in fact a red Spinel and is now owned by Queen Elizabeth.

Spinel is a magnesium aluminum oxide that crystallizes in the cubic system while ruby is an aluminum oxide that crystallizes hexagonally. In ancient times, red spinel was often known under the name "Balas Ruby", a name devised most probably from Balascia or Badakhshan in Northen India where the earliest gemstones came from.

Vivid red and cobalt blue are considered to be the most expensive colors for spinel and faceted stones over 3 carat in weight are always a rarity. The best red spinels are from Tanzania or Burma but almost all of the large stones are from Tanzania. The finest spinels are actually a highly saturated pinkish or orangey red and very few stones are pure red. The colors of the top Tanzanian stones are so vivid that they appear to glow even in ordinary daylight. Pure colorless natural spinel is very rare and natural white spinels always show a trace of pink. Star spinels are found occasionally and they may display either four or six rays depending on their orientation. While Spinels with a strong color change are extremely rare, stones that display a blue to violet color shift are more available.

Because of its hardness, high brilliance, and wide range of spectacular colors, spinel is a favorite among collectors and connoisseurs. Spinel is also popular because it is not known to be treated in any way. With a hardness of 8 and no cleavage planes, spinel is a tough and durable gemstone suitable for any kind of jewelry.

Spinels are associated with love and help the wearer to put their ego aside and become devoted to another person. Spinel also encourages passion and is said to increase the duration of one's life.

Black Spinel in particular is said to be a protective stone and helps re-establish relationships and resolve issues. It is also believed to relieve sadness.

Spinel is relatively unheard of to the common consumer and has not been marketed by any major gem companies. Black Spinel is only found in a few locations in the world, and because of its rarity, if the demand were to rise, supply would not be abundant enough to keep up with it.

Spinel occurs in granites and metamorphic rocks, and is quite often found in conjunction with corundum. One of the ways to differentiate spinel from other stones is that spinel possesses no electrical properties when subjected to heat, yet the ruby and garnet do. Spinel has an amazingly high melting point of 2135 Celsius.

There are two different theories on how the name Spinel came about.  It may have derived from the Latin word 'spina' meaning a thorn, possibly referring to its fiery color or the sharp pointed crystals that are found within some Spinels. Or spinel is derived from the Greek spinther, which means sparkling. It was valued as a gemstone and protective stone by the Greeks and Romans due to it's sparkling colors.

Spinel also is thought to have some healing properties.  It is a high energy stone, used to lend the body energy and to heal physical energy blockages. The beautiful gemstone has a calming effect on all kinds of inflammations. It will speed the recovery of all diseases associated with movement, including issues with joints, bones and muscles. Spinel will actually grant strength to the wearer and increase her powers of self healing, this makes it possible for one to protect oneself from the troublesome influences of others.

Spinal also has mystical properties that differ by color. In general, Spinel is said to be able to clarify thoughts and creative ideas, as well as attracting the help that is required for any given situation.

I recently got some Black Spinel and made a couple of great pieces.  Enjoy!






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