Spinel is my new favorite gemstone! I recently went to a gem show in Seattle and found some amazing grayish purplish cut stones that are so gorgeous! Spinel, like diamond, is singly refractive. It comes in a huge variety of colors ranging from red to the previously-mentioned gray. It is now known that some well-known rubies are actually spinels, such as those in royal jewelry pieces from England and Russia! Spinel and corundum are even often found in the same alluvial deposits. Spinel is an 8 on the Mohs scale, making it a durable gem for everyday wear.
Traces of chromium found in spinel contributes to shades of red and pink. The more chromium contained in the spinel the stronger the color. Purple and orange spinel take their color from traces of iron and chromium. Grayish tones are colored by iron. Blue spinel is colored by a mixture of cobalt and iron. These sought-after stones are usually from Sri Lanka, Madagascar and Pakistan. Rarely, there are also color-change and star stones. Spinel is rarely treated.
Red spinel is usually the most sought-after spinel color due to its hue and rarity. Fine cobalt is also very popular, followed by vivid pink and orange stones. Generally, the less saturated colors tend to be less valuable. A top-quality red spinel will probably only sell for one-tenth of the price of a ruby of the same size and quality. Just as with Red and pink sapphire, there is not a consistent opinion about what separates red spinel from pink spinel. Since red spinel is more valuable, often times a buyer will try to buy at a pink spinel price if the color is in the middle of two hues.
Purple, reddish purple and violet are not nearly as valuable as red, pink or orange spinel, and will often sell for only around half the price of a pink spinel of good quality.
The most valuable blue spinels are those with good blue saturation, as the blue hues often take on a grayish look. The rarest and therefore most coveted blue spinels are violet-blue to blue hues in medium to medium dark shades.
Because spinel is scarce, rough tends to be cut in free sizes and not calibrated ones. They are often fashioned into ovals in a mixed-cut style. Expect prices to rise sharply for red, pink and blue stones that are 5 carats or larger.
If you love the look of ruby or pink sapphire but feel they are out of your price range, you can usually buy pink spinel or red sapphire for a fraction of the price, and it is nearly as durable. And if you love the look of purple sapphire but don’t want to pay sapphire prices, consider spinel in the same shade.
Are you a fan of spinel, or are you eager to check it out? Let me know what you think!