A Blushing Beauty... Overshadowed for centuries by more popular gemstones, spinel is a truly magnificent beauty just waiting to be discovered by today’s savvy gem connoisseur. In the past, spectacular spinels, particularly red spinels, were often misidentified as rubies or sapphires. From the British Crown Jewels to the imperial crown of Catherine II of Russia, what were thought to be magnificent rubies have been found to actually be equally beautiful spinels. And red isn’t the only color of spinel. You’ll find soft pastel shades of pink and purple, fiery oranges, and cool hues ranging from powdery gray to the most intense blues imaginable.
Spinel has been a longtime favorite of the serious gem collector, due to its incredible brilliance, outstanding durability and wide array of colors. Making spinel even more attractive is its surprising affordability, often attributed to the general public’s lack of awareness of the gemstone. For those looking for an alternative to higher priced rubies and sapphires, spinel may be the best choice.
Natural spinel holds no birthstone designation, but laboratory grown spinel in many different colors has been commonly used to imitate birthstones (including diamonds) in less expensive jewelry since the early 1900s. Synthetic spinel is rarely used to imitate natural spinel.
Myanmar is the source of some of the world’s most beautiful spinels, particularly the magnificent pink, red and orangy red colors. Other sources for spinel include Sri Lanka, Thailand and Tanzania.
There are no treatments commonly used to enhance spinel.
Spinel is hard and durable. It can be cleaned using an ultrasonic machine, any commercial jewelry cleaner or plain soap and water using a soft brush. Be sure to rinse and dry your jewelry thoroughly after cleaning.
Photo: Robert Weldon, Copyright Professional Jeweler Magazine
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