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Spinel Meaning

Spinel is a gemstone which is available in a variety of colours. Pure Spinel stone is colourless, but impurities owe to the wide range of colours. The most valuable and preferable Spinel colour is a deep blood red, though blue spinel, black spinel, orange, yellow, pink, and purple colours also make fine gemstones. Spinel is commonly fluorescent in ultraviolet light, and this can be quite useful in its identification.

Spinel gem has a very limited supply, and thus gem and jewellery corporations don't really market this gemstone to the consumer.

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Factual Information About Spinel Stones

Type

Gemstone

Mineral Class

Spinel

Chemical Formula

MgAl2O4

Colour

White, Black, colourless, Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, Pink, Purple

Crystal System

Isometric

Hardness

7.5 - 8

Refractive Index

1.712 - 1.736

Double Refraction

None

Transparency

Transparent to translucent

Luster

Vitreous


Black Spinel

Black spinel is actually the black variety, opaque known as Pleonast, contains a good luster and is used as a black gemstone.

Blue Spinel Meaning

Blue Spinel may have a resemblance to Zircon, sapphire and Topaz; while pink Spinel may imitate Morganite, pink Topaz, and pink Tourmaline. Purple Spinel stone may seem similar to Amethyst, though Spinel is generally bluer in tone than Amethyst.

Uses of Spinel Stone   

The deep-red variety, often popularized as a Ruby Spinel, is the most prized form and is actually an excellent alternative for Ruby. Spinel is also a significant pink gemstone.

Spinel naturally takes place in octahedral crystals. In well-carved red crystals, gem cutters may even out a crystal into an ideal octahedron. These "crystals" can occasionally be worn as a jewellery piece without any further faceting.

Though spinel has been used in jewellery since primitive times, this gemstone has gained the attention it deserves. Until the onset of modern gemology in the early 20th centuries, spinel was often determined as corundum, since they are found in the same mines. Nonetheless, these minerals are chemically isolated.

Following which, as jewellery cartels have had an understanding that some of their treasured rubies and sapphires were actually spinels, the stone’s reputation suffered significantly. Synthetic spinel is common and inexpensive. It has commonly been used as a stimulant for other gems in birthstones and class rings, which has impacted its public perception.

Natural spinel, however, is a rare and beautiful gem and is deeply appreciated on its natural beauty by educated consumers.

Varieties of Spinel

Spinel is Synthesized in Different Varieties and is Thus Known in Different Names as Below:-

Spinel

Colour

Almandine Spinel 

violet to violet-blue colour

Balas Ruby 

pink to pale red

Blue Spinel 

Light to dark blue

Flame Spinel 

Orange to orange-red

Gahnite

Deep Green

Galaxite

Deep Red to Black

Gahnospinel

Dark green to greenish-black, dark blue

Hercynite

Black, Dark hues

Picotite

Brown

Pleonast

Opaque, dark blue or green to black

Rubicelle

Yellow to orange

Ruby

Ruby-red


Sources of Spinel Stones

Found mainly and traditionally in Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka, spinels have been unearthed recently in different sites in Australia, Africa, Russia, and Vietnam. These gems are generally not mined from the hard rock fundamental deposits in which they form but rather from alluvial or placer deposits where weathered material has been washed downstream.

Care of Spinel Stones

Spinels are relatively hard and durable gemstones and thus need no special cleaning or care instructions. One can refer to the Gemstone Jewellery Care and Cleaning Guide for various cleaning systems.

Trade Names of Spinel

In prehistoric times, red spinels were referred to as “balas rubies,” possibly after Balascia, the primitive name of a region now partitioned between Afghanistan and Tajikistan. This was a significant source of these gems.

Although spinels were determined as sapphires and rubies centuries ago, they are now recognized as distinct gemstones. Nowadays, Any references made to “spinel ruby” or “spinel sapphire” are erroneous. Red or green garnets are sometimes called “Arizona spinels.” Almandines are wrongly called “candy spinels.”

Fun Facts

  • Spinel is most popular for its deep red variety that nearly simulates Ruby.

  • Spinel stone and ruby can be very difficult to distinguish as they not only look identical but are found in the same localities too.

  • Fine red Spinel is rarer than Ruby of equal colour.

  • Spinel stone cost is still undervalued, with its cost about 30% lower than comparable Ruby.

  • The scarcity of good Spinel stone is a major factor for its lack of popularity and demand. This further hampers Spinel from being a mainstream gemstone.

  • Spinel is easily synthesized, thus can be created in any colour by adding impurities.

  • Synthetic Spinel often imitates many other gemstones such as Diamond, Zircon and Sapphire.

  • The enormous "Ruby" that creates the centerpiece of the royal crown of England (the Black Prince's Ruby) was actually identified to be a Spinel.

Note: Because of the plenty of synthetic Spinels, one must always be careful to only buy this gemstone from trusted sellers/jewellers. Remember that, almost all colourless Spinel gemstones are synthetic, as they rarely materialize colourless in nature.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. How Do We Identify and Distinguish Spinel from Other Stones?

Answer: Spinel can have identifying characteristics such as;-


Spectral

It has very distinctive spectra which is also a great parameter for its identification. For example:

  • Red and Pink: It contains chromium spectrum, which contains a broadband at 540 nm, in addition to the absorption of violet. An array of fine lines in the red might be fluorescent “organ pipe” lines.

  • Blue: has an iron spectrum containing lines in blue particularly at 458, and narrow lines at 478 plus weak lines at 443 and 433. The two strongest bands are at 686, 675, plus 635, 585, and 508. (This iron spectrum is distinguishing vs. the cobalt blue of synthetic spinel gemstone.) Nigerian blue granite also contains bands at 700 and 570 similar to those seen in spinel.

  • Mauve and Pale Blue: Has a similar spectrum to blue, but much weaker.

Inclusions

Spinels are usually free of inclusions, but some inclusions are special. Silk, as in ruby and sapphires, is hardly ever seen in spinel. Angular inclusions called spangles are observed. Swirls and rows of tiny octahedra of another spinel, like the magnetite (Fe3O4), are distinctive.

Q2. What are the Similar Gemstones to Spinel?

Answer: Red Spinel can have a high similarity of appearance to Ruby. However, Spinel is generally lighter in colour, while the deep-red Spinel is generally more of a brick-red colour than the Red of Ruby which contains a slight blue or purple tinge to it. That being said, only hardness and optical properties can truly differentiate these two gemstones. Red Spinel can also closely look like red Tourmaline and dark red Spinel may bear a resemblance to Garnet.

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