Spinel – August’s Newest Birthstone

Spinel, is one of the most sparkling and rare gems found in nature.

Spinel is one of the gems I really search for, when I travel overseas. I remember one one trip to Sri Lanka, I found a gorgeous, fire engine red, spinel in amongst a collection of sapphires, in a dealers stock. While my heart was pounding over the find, I tried not to act too excited. Finally after some significant discussion, I was able to purchase the gem and proudly added it to my collection.

Another time, in Sri Lanka, while suffering from the high fever, chills and pain, brought on by dengue fever, a gem miner brought a very large oval red spinel to the home where I was staying. I dragged myself from the coconut shell mattress that I was laying on and negotiated the purchase of that gem. Wow what a find!

See the image below and click here for details on this amazing gem.

  • Spinel’s color and beauty can be so intense that it has often been confused with the finest ruby and sapphire. In fact, high quality spinels can sparkle more than their ruby and sapphire counterparts.
  • Centuries ago, as recorded in ancient Sanskrit writings, spinel was referred to as the daughter of ruby. Bright red spinels, like the ones mined in Mogok, Myanmar were often confused with ruby. Some of the most famous rubies in history have turned out to be spinel. For example, there is a 170ct. red spinel named “The Black Prince’s ruby” in the Crown Jewels of England and a 398-carat red spinel that sits atop the Imperial Crown of Russia commissioned by Catherine the Great in 1763. Both of these beauties have confirmed to be large red spinels. This was confirmed when advanced gem identification tools were developed, such as the refractometer. One simple distinction between the two is the fact that ruby is a doubly refractive crystal and spinel is singularly refractive.
  • While spinel is actually rarer than ruby, it can be found in much larger sizes than ruby, thus another reason that it found its way into Crown Jewels.

For details on the below image of a red Spinel from Myanmar click here.






For details on the below image of an amazing matched pair of blue spinels from Sri Lanka, click here.

Colors of Spinel

  • In addition to intense reds, spinel can be found in red orange, orange, purple, a blue to purple color change and a lovely pastel pink. Recently a gray spinel has been very popular as it is relatively inexpensive and tends to be a soothing color. Spinel can also be found in a rich blue. This color though is extremely rare.

For details on this fine, purple spinel from Sri Lanka, click here

Additional Spinel Facts

  • In July, 2016 spinel was added to peridot as the official birthstone for August*, and it is sometimes used to commemorate a 22nd wedding anniversary.
  • Spinels are sourced from a number of countries. The most notable include, Afghanistan, Brazil, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Kenya, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Spinel quite suitable for jewelry, as it is durable and has a hardness of 8.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.

Spinel Treatments

  • While spinel is not generally enhanced, recently there are indications that, some are being heat treated and less frequently, if there are surface reaching fractures, then some are being treated with oils or polymers.

Synthetic Spinel

  • Spinel can also be easily lab created. When you combine this with the fact that it is durable and comes in so many colors, it is easy to see why synthetic spinel has been used frequently in inexpensive colored stone, birthstone jewelry.


Spinel Care & Cleaning

  • To minimize scratching and wear, store each spinel piece of jewelry, separately in a soft cloth or padded container.
  • Spinel jewelry is best cleaned with warm, soapy water and a soft toothbrush. You can also wipe it with a tightly woven microfiber or other soft cloth.
  • Take all your fine jewelry to your local professional jeweler at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning and inspection.


*This is the third update to the modern birthstone list since it was officially created in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewelers Association, now known as JA. It was updated in 1952 to add alexandrite, citrine, tourmaline and zircon as birthstones and again in 2002 when tanzanite was added as a birthstone for December.

For more information about us at Artinian Gems, feel free to visit our website at www.artiniangems.com.


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