As you see from the picture, Spinel looks a lot like Sapphire or Aqua or ruby or …… just about every transparent gemstone you can think of except Emerald. It is, in fact, found in the same gem gravel beds as Sapphires and Rubies, in Sri Lanka and other locations throughout the world. As a quirk, Spinel is also found in New Jersey!
Spinel is an old gem, newly discovered. It’s only been 150 years since Spinel was first differentiated as a unique species. That discovery touched off a roar as large, rare “Rubies and Sapphires” in the crowns of the royalty of Europe were re-identified as Spinels. Then the roar turned into outrage as gem dealers of the time fumbled over what to do about this amazing turn of events. Who knew? It wasn’t really that long ago when all red stones were simply called “carbuncles”.
If you’re looking for a hard, durable, reasonably priced gem, that looks like it’s worth much more than the asking price, Spinel is your new best friend. You can see one in almost every crown from almost every European royal house. And once the truth came out about this little beastie the production numbers on verified Rubies and Sapphires from the gravel beds in Burma plummeted.
Spinel is composed of Magnesium Aluminum Oxide with the colours coming from traces of Chrome and Iron. Most stones are small but a few larger 10ct.+ stones do exist. Spinel does exist with a star but they are also very rare.
So, why isn’t it a very expensive stone all on its own? It looks so much like the big boys and it fooled everyone for so long. The first problem is hardness. On the Mohs scale, each successive number is twice as hard as its predecessor. Since Spinel is an 8 and Sapphire/Ruby are a 9, that means that there is really a huge difference in survivability for the stone in comparison. Also, it is not doubly refractive. That means there is no doubling on the transmission of light as it passed through the gem and it is just that little bit “less” than its expensive cousins. Finally, Spinel really is the big brother in the gravel beds. The population ratio of Spinel to the Corundums in the gravel beds is very high which makes Spinel more common and therefore inexpensive. And the rarer stones become even more valuable. And, finally, who ever heard of this stone? Most dealers don’t stock them as they will just confuse their customers. It is much easier to carry the popular items without having to educate them and then make less money.
At Westdale Jewellers, we have the stones, the expertise and the time to make sure you get what you want at the best price possible. Come see us to view our Spinel selection.