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Top Interesting Facts About Spinel Gemstones

Spinel is a rare and often impeccable gemstone that comes in a wide variety of colours with a durable hardness rating of eight, which is only just behind ruby, sapphire, and diamond.

With all these attributes, one may wonder how on earth, it can be so undervalued and under-appreciated?

Part of the problem is the synthetic gemstones created in laboratories and used in costume jewellery, which has given the naturally occurring Spinel a bad name. Then there is the history of Spinel being mistaken or substituted for Rubies and Sapphires, which, for some reason, has damaged its reputation when such a thing should only add to its prestige.

Anyway, this beautiful gemstone is generally all-natural and didn't need any enhancing treatment. It is one of the few gemstones that naturally appear in blue, has a grand past infamous jewellery, and is beginning to gain popularity.

Spinel Colours: The rich, almost ruby red (often called traffic light red) is the most popular colour in Spinel, but the Cobalt Blue Spinel is possibly even more sought after and rarer.

Naturally, blue gemstones are not very common, and aquamarines, sapphires, and tanzanites, unlike Spinels, usually get their colour from heat treatments.

The almost neon pink Spinel gemstones from Mahenge in Tanzania have raised the name of Spinel over the past decades.

Like most high-quality gemstones, the colour in Spinel is caused by impurities or by minute traces of minerals, which get mixed up as it forms.

Spinel is the magnesium aluminium oxide and would be colourless if it did not have any impurities. However, this rarely happens in nature, and clear Spinel gemstones are exceptionally rare.

Trace elements of chromium can cause red, pink, and orange colours, while iron creates deep red colours that are so similar to rubies. Cobalt and Manganese are also found in Spinel, and sometimes two or three of these chemical elements can combine to create the violets, blues, purples, and greys that can also be seen in this colourful gemstone.

With pink, purple, and orange varieties are also much-loved, especially the grey spinel is getting more and more fashionable these days.

There is only one type of Spinel has been known to possess colour-change properties where it will be bluish-grey in daylight and turn to a light purple under artificial lights.

When choosing Spinel based on colour, bear in mind the tone of the gemstone, which is graded on a scale from light to dark tones, with medium tone Spinels the most valuable.

Then there is colour saturation: Some red Spinel gemstones can veer towards brown while the blue, purple, and violet gemstones can look a little grey. A gemstone that has an intense colour saturation will have a nice deep true colouring. Consistent colour across the gemstone is also a very important factor.

Spinel Varieties: Generally, Spinel gemstones are just one species or variety, with any differentiation being just the colour.

However, there have been a few other names used over the years. Many just fanciful for marketing reasons, while others were a bit misleading for dubious reasons.

Some of these include:

Almandine Spinel

A violet colour

Balas Ruby

An age-old name for a pink to a pale red gemstone

Flame Spinel

The Orange or reddish-orange colour

Picotite

A brown Spinel

Alexandrite-like Spinel

A colour-change spinel usually from grey to violet

Spinel Clarity and Cut: Gemstones can either be transparent, translucent, or opaque and, in some cases, all three in the one gemstone. Their transparency can also be graded; in the case of loose, high-quality gemstones, the clearer, the better.

Generally, even completely natural and untreated Spinel gemstones are very transparent and often flawless, at least to the naked eye. Sometimes a Spinel with a distinctive fingerprint-like inclusion will appear. However, these swirling patterns actually add to the gemstone's charm.

Spinel is a durable and robust gemstone that can be cut and faceted into almost any shape and size. Special care needs to be taken to ensure the brilliance or brightness is enhanced; also, the scintillation or sparkle is maximized.

Spinel Price: Spinel gemstones are priced like most coloured gemstones, with colour, clarity, cut, and size is the four factors to consider.

Spinel Gemstones for sale - Price List

Color

Weight Range

Price Range

Red

1 carat +

$40 to 2000 / carat

Blue

1 carat +

$100 to 1500 / carat

Fancy

1 carat +

$20 to 200 / carat

Black

1 carat +

$ 2 to 25 / carat

Let's start with the colour. The deep reds and cobalt blues are the most valuable and popular colours for Spinel, with some reaching very high prices (especially the Myanmar Reds). Other colours like Pink, violet, orange, black and grey gemstones can also be found at much more reasonable prices considering their high quality.

Yellow and Green Spinel can be created synthetically but are very rare in their natural form, so be wary of these two colours.

Much like most loose gemstones, clarity is important, with a Spinel that has no visible inclusions or flaws will be more valuable than those with visible inclusions.

That being said, some Spinel Gemstones do have some interesting inclusions, including some that resemble fingerprints that can be rather attractive. And then there are the star effect Spinels, which are caused by inclusions.

Spinel gemstones can be cut in almost any shape, although round, cushion and oval cuts are the most popular. As they are quite rare and valuable, they can often be cut into non-calibrated or non-standard sizes to gain most of the weight from rough as possible.

Because no one will want to waste any part of a rich red or deep blue Spinel gemstone for the sake of a particular size, however, most other colours are also available in standard industry sizes.

Spinels in any colour, other than black, over 5 carats are very rare and expensive. When buying Spinels or any coloured gemstone, we recommend buying based on the physical dimensions of the gemstone.

Carat size can be a bit misleading in a couple of ways. For example, it could be cut in such a way that it makes it a larger carat size gemstone but is 'bottom-heavy,' with most of the weight at the base of the loose gemstone where it won't be seen.

Gemstones also vary in density, so the high-density sapphire weighing 1 carat will be around 6mm in diameter. The slightly less dense 1-carat Spinel will be about 6.5mm in diameter. Ignore the carats, density, and specific gravity. Just find out the dimensions (say 7 x 5 x 4 mm) to know exactly what you are getting.

Even though Spinel gemstones are not that much popular, yet they can reach some spectacular prices. Like in 2015, the Hope Spinel, a gemstone in a brooch or pendant set, sold for nearly $1.5 million; also, in 2011, the Imperial Mughal necklace made of red Spinels went for over $5 million.

The origin of Spinel can remarkably influence the price of Spinel gemstones, especially the rich reds from Myanmar, or the pinks from Tanzania, are getting valued more than average prices.

How to care for Spinel Gemstone: Spinel is quite high on the Mohs Hardness scale (8/10) so avoid storing it with other loose gemstones as it could easily scratch them. Conversely, anything harder, such as ruby, sapphire, or diamond, could scratch Spinel easily, so it is always best to keep loose gemstones in soft individual cloth bags.

 

Spinel can also be affected by intense heat, so please bear that in mind while engaging in any cleaning, repairing, or physical activity. Just clean them with warm soapy water and gently wipe/dry them with a soft cloth.

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