Is Spinel A Real Gem?

By | June 11, 2024

You’re about to uncover fascinating truths about a gem that’s often shrouded in mystery. In “Is Spinel A Real Gem?”, you’ll delve into the captivating world of spinel, exploring its history, characteristics, and the surprising ways it has been confused with other precious stones like sapphires and rubies. This article will not only affirm the authenticity of spinel but also highlight why this remarkable gem deserves recognition in its own right. Get ready to expand your knowledge and appreciation for one of the most underrated yet genuine gemstones in the world. Have you ever found yourself wondering if spinel is a real gem? Maybe you’ve come across this intriguing stone in a piece of jewelry or read about it somewhere and now you’re curious to know more. Well, you’re in the right place! We’ll take a deep dive into the world of spinel, dispelling myths and presenting fascinating facts that might just make you fall in love with this often-overlooked gemstone.

Is Spinel A Real Gem?

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What is Spinel?

Spinel is a beautiful mineral that forms in a variety of stunning colors, often rivaling those of well-known gems like rubies and sapphires. Unlike many precious stones, spinel is composed of magnesium aluminum oxide and belongs to its own unique mineral group. It’s a durable gem, making it an excellent choice for all types of jewelry.

The Chemical Composition

Spinel’s chemical formula is MgAl₂O₄. In simpler terms, it consists of magnesium, aluminum, and oxygen. This composition is what gives spinel its incredible range of colors and some distinctive physical properties.

ElementSymbolPercentage in Spinel

The History of Spinel

Spinel has a rich history that dates back hundreds of years. Historically, it was often mistaken for other gems, particularly rubies. In fact, some of the most famous “rubies” in the world, such as the Black Prince’s Ruby in the British Crown Jewels, are actually spinels. This confusion stems from the fact that spinel and ruby often occur together in the same geological conditions, making them hard to distinguish without modern gemological testing.

The Myths and Misconceptions

One common question is whether spinel is a “real” gem or simply a simulant for other, more “valuable” stones. This myth likely arose because spinel shares many visual similarities with more famous stones. The truth is, spinel is very much a genuine and valuable gemstone in its own right.

Spinel vs. Ruby and Sapphire

Spinel often gets compared to rubies and sapphires, primarily because they can look quite similar. However, there are distinct differences:

CompositionMgAl₂O₄Al₂O₃ with CrAl₂O₃
Hardness (Mohs)7.5 – 899
Color RangeRed, Pink, Blue, Black, etc.Red onlyMultiple (excl. red)
Refractive Index1.7181.763 – 1.7701.762 – 1.770

Pricing and Value

The value of spinel can vary widely, similar to other gemstones. Although it is often less expensive than rubies and sapphires, fine specimens of spinel, particularly in vibrant colors, can fetch high prices. Its affordability makes it an attractive option for those looking to own a beautiful gemstone without breaking the bank.

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Spinel Varieties and Colors

Spinel comes in a gorgeous palette of colors, each with its own unique appeal. Unlike many gems, spinel’s color is typically natural and not a result of treatments or enhancements.

Red Spinel

Red spinel is probably the most famous variety and is often mistaken for ruby. The coloration comes from trace amounts of chromium, similar to what makes rubies red. Yet, red spinel possesses a softer, more pastel-like glow compared to the intense red of ruby.

Blue Spinel

Blue spinels are rarer and highly prized. The finest blue spinels come from Sri Lanka and often contain traces of cobalt, giving them their stunning color. These cobalt blue spinels can command higher prices, especially with a vivid, saturated hue.

Pink and Lavender Spinel

For those who love softer colors, pink and lavender spinels are simply enchanting. These shades are typically the result of trace elements like iron and cobalt. Pink spinel, in particular, can rival pink sapphires in beauty and is often chosen for its delicate and romantic hues.

Black Spinel

Black spinel is another captivating option, known for its opaque, jet-black appearance. It’s perfect for those who prefer a more modern and edgy look in their gemstone jewelry.

Other Colors

Spinel can also come in orange, yellow, and even green, although these varieties are much less common. Each color variant has its unique charm and can suit a wide range of tastes and styles.

Where is Spinel Found?

Spinel is mined in several locations across the globe, each known for producing spinels with distinct characteristics.

Major Mines and Locations

Myanmar (Burma)Known for producing stunning red and pink spinels.
Sri LankaFamous for cobalt blue and a wide variety of other colors.
TanzaniaHome to vibrant red, blue, and purple spinels.
VietnamProduces unique, lustrous black spinels.
ThailandKnown primarily for red spinel, often found in the same deposits as rubies.
MadagascarOffers a vast range of colors, from pink to blue to purple.

Ethical Sourcing

As with any gemstone, it’s essential to consider the ethical implications of mining and sourcing. Many organizations and gem dealers are now committed to ensuring that their spinels are sourced responsibly, with attention to environmental and labor standards.

Is Spinel A Real Gem?

Spinel in Jewelry

Spinel is a versatile gemstone that can be used in various types of jewelry, from rings to necklaces to earrings. Its durability and hardness (7.5 – 8.0 on the Mohs scale) make it suitable for everyday wear.

Jewelry Styles

Whether you prefer classic elegance or modern chic, spinel has something to offer. Here are some popular styles where you might find this gem:

  • Solitaire Rings: Perfect for showcasing spinel’s vibrant color.
  • Halo Settings: Adding a halo of diamonds around a spinel makes it sparkle even more.
  • Earrings: From simple studs to elaborate drops, spinel earrings can be quite striking.
  • Necklaces: A spinel pendant can be a beautiful focal point in any necklace design.
  • Bracelets: Spinel beads or accent stones in bracelets add a touch of color and elegance.

Caring for Your Spinel

While spinel is a durable gemstone, it’s still essential to take good care of it. Avoid exposing your spinel jewelry to harsh chemicals and extreme temperatures. A gentle cleaning with mild soap, warm water, and a soft brush is usually sufficient to keep your spinel looking its best.

Spinel in Popular Culture

Spinel has had its moments in the limelight. Historically, it was often mistaken for ruby in royal jewels. Today, it’s growing in popularity among jewelry designers and gemstone enthusiasts.

Celebrity Endorsements

Several celebrities and public figures have been spotted wearing spinel jewelry. This trend is helping to increase the gem’s visibility and reputation as a desirable gemstone.

Is Spinel A Real Gem?

Spinel’s Growing Popularity

Once overshadowed by its more well-known counterparts, spinel is enjoying a rise in popularity. Gem collectors and jewelry lovers alike are starting to appreciate its unique qualities and stunning beauty.

Advantages of Choosing Spinel

  • Affordability: Less expensive than other gemstones of similar quality.
  • Durability: Suitable for everyday wear.
  • Variety: Available in a wide range of colors to match any preference.
  • Natural Beauty: Most spinels are untreated, allowing their natural beauty to shine through.

Market Trends

The demand for spinel has been steadily increasing, driving up prices for high-quality specimens. This trend indicates a growing recognition of spinel’s value and beauty.


So, is spinel a real gem? Absolutely! Not only is it a genuine gemstone, but it also offers incredible beauty, variety, and historical intrigue. Whether you’re a collector, a jewelry maker, or someone looking for a unique piece to add to your collection, spinel is a gemstone worth considering. Its affordability, durability, and stunning color range make it an excellent choice for anyone looking to explore beyond the more commonly known gems like rubies and sapphires.

Next time you come across a piece of spinel jewelry or hear mentions of this gem, you’ll know just how special it truly is. And who knows? You might just find yourself becoming a spinel aficionado!

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Author: marklsmithms1

Hi, I'm Mark, the author of Maura Gems and Jewellery. As a team of qualified gemmologists and goldsmiths, we bring you world-class jewellery at Bangkok prices. With offices in both Bangkok and the UK, we ethically source the finest gemstones directly, eliminating any middlemen. We offer a wide range of stunning ready-made jewellery items in our new online store, available for retail or wholesale. Additionally, we specialize in custom-made jewellery where we can bring any design to life. Whether you're a trade professional or an individual customer, we cater to all. Feel free to email me at or call/WhatsApp me at 07470547636 or +66949355718. Discover our incredible collection by visiting our online store. I guarantee you'll love what you find there!

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