A Blushing Beauty
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
Photo: Robert Weldon,
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