What Is Spinel Jewelry? Discover the Uniqueness of This Gem

What Is Spinel Jewelry? Discover the Uniqueness of This Gem

Spinel is one of my absolute favorite gemstones! Not only is it durable and versatile, but it's also simply stunning. And here's a little secret: not many people know about it. If you ever get the chance to see a rare Mahenge spinel in person, you'll instantly understand why spinel is so amazing. This gorgeous orangish-pink gem boasts exceptional clarity and is highly sought after by gem aficionados. It's like finding a hidden treasure that only a few lucky people know about!

History of Spinel Jewelry

The history of spinel jewelry dates back to around 100 B.C., with pieces found in Buddhist tombs in Kabul, Afghanistan. In the first century B.C., ancient Romans also favored red spinels. Despite its long and storied past, it's surprising that spinel remains relatively unknown among jewelry enthusiasts today.

According to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), in ancient times, the mines of central and Southeast Asia produced very large spinel crystals. The gems coming from these mines were referred to as “Balas rubies” and were highly prized by royalty. They often changed hands as spoils of war, making their way into collections. As a result, some of the world's most famous “rubies” are, in fact, spinel. (Source)

Top Reasons to Love Spinel Jewelry

If you happen to believe that gemstones have metaphysical properties, then spinel is known to encourage passion and devotion, helping you to set aside your ego. Why else should you be loving, collecting, and wearing this gem? Here are my top three reasons to love spinel jewelry:

1. Spectacular Hues

Spinel is a gemstone that dazzles with a broad spectrum of colors, ranging from orange to intense “stoplight” red, vibrant pink, and all shades of purple, blue, and violet, extending through to bluish green. The most striking reds and pinks in spinel are due to traces of chromium, with higher chromium content resulting in a deeper red hue. Orange and purple spinel stones derive their colors from a blend of iron and chromium, while violet to blue shades are influenced by trace amounts of iron. The vibrant blues, in particular, get their rich saturation from trace amounts of cobalt.

For those who admire the beauty of red and blue gems like ruby or sapphire, spinel offers a more affordable alternative without compromising on the striking appearance. Additionally, if you are drawn to captivating pink and purple hues, spinel is the perfect gemstone to satisfy your preference.

Even though I highly recommend buying the color you love the most, you may be surprised to know that some colors of spinel are considered more valuable than others. The most commercially valuable spinels are red and fine cobalt blue. Vibrant hot pink and vivid orange spinels can also be rare. 

2. Everyday Wearability

While spinel may not match the hardness of diamonds or sapphires on the Mohs Hardness Scale, it's still impressively durable. The scale ranges from 1 to 10, with diamonds at 10, sapphires at 9, and spinel at a solid 8. This means you can confidently wear your spinel jewelry, whether it's a bracelet or a ring, knowing it will withstand everyday wear and accidental impacts quite well.

3. Underappreciated Beauty

Do you enjoy discovering unique treasures that others may not have? While many people are familiar with sapphires and rubies, fewer know about spinel. According to the GIA, spinel could be considered “History's Most Underappreciated Gem.” Ancient mines, which supplied gems to royal courts from Rome to China, often produced spinel, but it was frequently mistaken for rubies or sapphires.

Recently, spinel has started to gain consumer recognition. If you're looking for a gemstone that stands out as a unique and uncommon choice, spinel is an excellent option. When you consider the top qualities of spinel, it becomes clear that it deserves a spot on your jewelry wish list.

To see my current selection of spinel jewelry, visit this page. If you'd rather have something custom created with a beautiful spinel gem, then you can contact me for a consultation. I'd love to source the perfect spinel for you!


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