A case of mistaken identity


“Imagine venturing through history with a mistaken identity, unknown and thought to be something else entirely. That’s the case for the under appreciated gemstone, spinel. For centuries, this vibrant gem was mistaken for the more popular ruby or sapphire, denying its true place among the most popular gemstones.

Intense red and blues make it desirable, but its range of color makes it unique. Found in pinks, purples, green and even violet, it splashes the color spectrum for all tastes. In addition to the unique color range, pricing also makes this stone attractive.

Even with the mistaken identity, spinel has appeared in many crown jewels and amulets. A popular stone among monarchs for its durability and vibrant color, spinel has confused historians because of its close association to the ruby in color. Such was the case with the “Timur Ruby” and the “Black Prince’s Ruby.” These stones, which are a part of the British Crown Jewels, were originally believed to be large rubies. It wasn’t until much later that their mistaken identity was discovered. That problem continues to be an issue as many only associate spinel with synthetic birthstone material.

timur ruby

Timur “Ruby”


Black Prince’s “Ruby”


Unlike most gems, the spinel has not been diluted by the fluctuating gemstone market. Overall, consumers can expect to find affordable pricing. Others looking for the special, rare pieces will not be disappointed either. Brilliant reds, intense blues, and vibrant pinks will fetch the highest prices. Though these intense colors will be priced higher than others in spinel, they will still be more affordable and competitive to the more popular pink/blue sapphire and ruby, making them a fantastic and affordable alternative for customers looking for the intensity and durability of sapphire and ruby.

Like ruby and sapphire, Sri Lanka and Burma are two of the more important sources for this incredible gem. Both countries mine the beautiful colors and produce enough to fill the demand for now. However, the more demand increases, the higher prices will rise and supply will fall. Now, is the perfect time to introduce this fascinating stone to customers.

Spinel is not limited in size, ranging from smaller stones to large collector pieces. Not just reserved for synthetics, spinel is a fascinating natural gem of many qualities deserving a place among ruby and sapphire…”

Adapted from the article, “Spinel: Ready to be appreciated” from Southern Jewelry News.

To learn more about this fabulous gem check out: Spinel Journey from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and also GIA Gem Project Spinel.

Image Credits:
1) Spinels, Photo by Robert Weldon/GIA, courtesy Dr. E. J. Gübelin Collection, GIA Collection 34618, 34661, 34662, 34908
2) https://artemisiasroyalden.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/untitled1.jpg
3) http://lotusgemology.com/images/library/articles/gemologyarticles/black-princes-ruby/black-princes-ruby-small.jpg


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