Spinel offers magnificent color selections to August birthstones. An addition to the official list by the Jewelers of America and the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), spinel is the newest August birthstone in 2016 apart from sardonyx and peridot. This underrated gemstone finally captivated its long overdue recognition as consumer demand increases significantly. Let’s find out more about the facts and value behind this gem!
Symbolism and History
Spinel derives from the Latin word “spina” which means thorn also refers to its pointed crystal form. This gemstone is believed to help in setting aside ego, encouraging great passion, and prolong devotion. It is also linked in increasing physical energy and stamina—a great rejuvenator trait similar to peridot. This coloured gemstone was mistaken for one of history’s most famous “rubies”, the Black Prince. The Black Prince “ruby” is actually a 170-carat large red spinel and is one of the oldest parts of Great Britain’s Imperial State Crown which date back to the 14th century. It is set just above the 317.40-carat Cullinan II diamond of the Crown Jewels. Likewise, these spinel gemstones are treasured properties of kings and emperors in Southeast Asia time and again as loot from ancient wars. Today, spinel sources come from Tajikistan, Myanmar (Mogok Stone Track), Sri Lanka (Central Highlands and Ratnapura District), Vietnam (Luc Yen region), Tanzania, and Pakistan to name a few. Red spinel stones, which are highly desired, are known to be sourced from Myanmar.
Image Source: GIA.edu https://www.gia.edu/birthstones/august-birthstones#birthstone_2
What makes up a spinel?
Spinel is the magnesium or aluminium member of the larger spinel group of minerals. Its cubic crystal structure has the formula of magnesium aluminum oxide with the general composition of AB2O4 where A may be any of the following: magnesium, iron, zinc, manganese or nickel; while B may be aluminum, chromium, or iron and; O is oxygen (MgAl2O4). It was in 1778 when mineralogist Jean Baptiste Lois Rome de Lisle identified the difference in structure of spinel apart from ruby. Since spinel (in red and blue variants) closely resembles ruby or sapphire, it is much maligned as a corundum simulant. Thus, it earned its name as “the great impostor”. Spinel offers various colors such as red, purple, orange, pink, blue, and black with a refractive index of 1.718. It scores 8 on the Mohs scale which makes spinel a veritable selection for fine jewelry.
Image Source: GIA.edu https://www.gia.edu/spinel-quality-factor
What makes spinel valuable?
While diamonds are prized for wedding rings and engagement rings, spinel stones are famed for its desirable quality factors which gem connoisseurs indulge with. In its variety of colours, red and pink spinels are commercially demanded. These desired colours are followed by orange, violet, and bluish purple—as the demand pales to rarer colours. Should you cost a 5-carat red spinel (considered a top quality), it might sell for a 10% of the comparable quality ruby whereas pink spinel sells less than pink sapphire. Blue spinel hues range from violet blue to slightly greenish blue. While most stones have low saturation and the blue hues strikingly look greyish, the most highly valued blue spinel colors take on blue sapphires by the same token. This greatly reminds us why red and blue spinel stones were confused as ruby and sapphire back then.
Just like other gemstones, inclusions or blemishes definitely affect the pricing of spinel stones—the lesser to no visible inclusions, the higher the cost. Albeit some spinel inclusions show remarkable beauty in which it