Spinel, Your Colorful Underdog

Spinel, Your Colorful Underdog

An under-marketed gem, spinel hosts an array of beauty and color. Making this stone a wonderful addition to the August birthstones.

Oval Deep Red Spinel resting on the back of a persons handSpinel was mistakenly identified for most of history as other popular gemstones such as ruby or garnet. This was due to their striking resemblance in color and appearance. It was not until the late 18th century that spinel gained recognition as a separate gemstone due to scientific advancements. Although over two centuries have passed since then, it still hasn’t made a household name for itself despite having many opulent and famous pieces made from spinel. 

Amongst the most famous spinels is the Imperial State Crown of the British Crown Jewels. It showcases a crimson red cabochon spinel, known as "The Black Prince's Ruby," weighing 170 carats. It has a rich history dating back to the fourteenth century, having been owned by Moorish and Spanish Kings before being acquired by Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1367. Another notable spinel is the Timur Ruby; this unpolished 361-carat red gem was gifted to Queen Victoria by The East India Company in 1851. Set into a necklace, it became part of the British Crown Jewels. The largest known red spinel in the world, weighing 398.72 carats, adorns the Imperial Crown of Russia, commissioned by Catherine the Great in 1763. This magnificent gem, brought to Russia in the seventeenth century, was last used during the coronation of Nicholas II.

Imperial State Crown

In 1912, the Jewelers Association (JA) and the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA)  established the birthstone list, which has remained largely unchanged for over a century. With only two modifications throughout its 104-year history, the recent revision marks the third adjustment adding spinel to August’s birthstones alongside peridot and sardonyx

With a hardness ranging between 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale, spinel is a durable gemstone that is resistant to scratches and can withstand daily wear. Spinels can be found in various regions around the world, including Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand. While traditionally associated with red hues, spinel is available in a diverse palette of colors. From vibrant blues and purples to soft pinks and oranges, spinel offers an exquisite range of shades that captivate the eye.

Spinelle bleu (Pakistan)


Two coffin shaped grey/blue spinels in a custom designed rose gold engagement ring

In a world filled with dazzling gemstones, spinel often gets overlooked as an unsung hero. It may not have the fame of its counterparts, but spinel is a gem that exudes beauty and offers a vibrant range of colors, making it a fantastic addition to the August birthstones. Throughout history, spinel was mistaken for other gems like ruby or garnet due to their similar appearance. It wasn't until the late 18th century that spinel got the recognition it deserved. Despite having adorned magnificent pieces like the Imperial State Crown and the Timur Ruby, spinel still hasn't become a household name. However, it finally got its due recognition with the recent addition to the birthstone list. With its durability and an enchanting variety of colors, spinel is a gemstone that truly captures the imagination and deserves more love and appreciation in the world of jewelry. So, let's celebrate the hidden beauty of spinel and give it the spotlight it deserves