Kings and nobles have seen spinel reaching far back into the depths of history, though they did not always know what it was. Visually this gemstone can be indistinguishable from ruby or occasionally some fancy sapphires. Because of this fact, the name spinel has not been known as widely to the general public. Its beauty and unique quality is bringing the name of spinel to its rightful place as a widely popular gemstone.


There are a host of colors available in natural spinel, with bright red being nearly indistinguishable from ruby.

The burning hot red-pink “Jedi” spinel have also gained immense popularity recently, as well as electric blue cobalt spinels and even padparascha colors that rival some of the best corundum padparascha.

The intensity and spectrum of possible colors in spinel will continue to cultivate the popularity of spinel far into the future regardless of fashion trends.


Originally mistaken for ruby, many spinels were referred to as "balas ruby" though this is considered deceptive practice in the gemstone trade


A rising star is the newly famed Jedi spinel. These exclusively Burmese and only untreated spinels are in the high saturation and high fluorescence ranges of red and pink. They were named Jedi after the famous Star Wars Jedi knights that are completely untouched by the dark side. Jedi spinels likewise are all burning hot neon red to pink hues without any dark tone or major clarity defects to drag down their fire and reflection.


Naturally cobalt bearing spinel occurs in a few locations, with Vietnam being the most famous. These electric neon blue hues are so bold that modern camera technology fails to reliably capture it.



Growing alongside ruby deposits, spinel from Myanmar grows in some of the highest price red and jedi hues. Other deposits also include spectrums of gray, pastel pinks and oranges.


Exceptional pinks and reds occur in Vietnam as well, but the north of this nation is most famous for the incredibly rare electric blue cobalt spinels.


As with other corundum producing nations, Sri Lanka also has exceptional spinels, and often in color ranges that do not exist in other deposits, including some intriguing deep blues and lilacs.


A comparably young deposit, this east African nation is providing an important supply of hot reddish pink spinel commonly called Mahenge spinel.


A modern heavy-weight for many parti-coloured sapphires and fancy blue-green-yellow sapphires.


Some of the oldest spinel mining dating back recognizably to the time of Marco Polo occurs in modern day Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Much of the production is in the pink to deep purple range, with exceptionally large pieces surfacing from time to time. The Black Prince’s Ruby is rumored to have come from this region.



between spinel and corundum

as minerals are many, and because of this many of the treatments that have shown success with corundum are at least attempted on spinel. When heat treating a batch of corundum, a few pieces of spinel that were overlooked or misidentified also may have been included. Owing to this, we find heat treated spinel and other advanced heat treatments involving additional elements such as cobalt as well. Consulting a reputable lab on the treatment nature of your stones is essential for protecting your investment.


Auguste Victor Louis Verneuil

The second synthetic gemstone was accidentally discovered over 100 years ago was synthetic spinel. Synthetic corundum was first developed by Auguste Verneuile and revealed to the world in 1902. Corundum and spinel share a very similar basic chemical composition of aluminum oxide, with spinel additionally having magnesium. During the manufacturing process, some magnesium was added to the component mixture for making corundum, and behold, synthetic spinel was the result. Synthetic spinel is commonly used not only to replace natural spinel, but also as a hard wearing simulant for many coloured gems. A huge variety of colored gems can be created using a composite of synthetic spinel and a layer of colored glue in the middle which colors the whole stone once cut properly.



High value spinels are consistently the ruby-like red and burning pink known as "Jedi" spinels. Natural neon or electric blue Cobalt spinel also commands high prices. Gray has been gaining popularity fast, though the price pales in comparison with the redpink or neon blue stones.


A major advantage of spinel over much of corundum is that spinel is commonly high clarity with a similarly sharp luster. When there is a ruby and spinel that may have identical color and size, but spinel is available in a higher clarity for a competitive price, it is difficult to ignore the opportunity to buy.


Spinel often forms in crystal shapes that look just like a gemstone. This often allows master cutters to facet gemstones from the crystal with a highly efficient yield, saving on costs.


Spinel can occur in large pristine crystals. Because of this and its similarity in appearance to ruby, many of history's largest “rubies” are in fact spinel.


Spinel, like corundum, is exceptionally tough wearing in normal jewelry contexts.

It is harder than most minerals aside from corundum and diamond, and so it must be stored in a way that it does not move about freely and rub up against diamond or ruby and sapphire jewelry, or other spinels.

Otherwise spinel may be worn frequently and without worry.



Quite possibly the most famous spinel of all time is the massive 170 carat spinel that sits in the crown of the Queen of England, known as the Black Prince’s ruby. In earlier periods of history, ruby, spinel and even red garnets were often all lumped together under the name ruby. Fortunately for us, the science of gemology is advancing fast and there are a variety of advanced gemological laboratories to assist us in confidently knowing the identity of our gemstones.