Spinel, when it bears a deep red color, has often been mistaken for ruby. However, a ruby is made of corundum and a spinel is made out of magnesium aluminum oxide. Spinel has been acknowledged to be a different gemstone from ruby since the 16th century. Both gemstones are very hard, with spinel having a hardness of 7.5 to 8 and ruby having a hardness of 9 according to the Mohs scale. Both of them can be transparent or translucent. Interestingly, spinels are now rarer than rubies, though they cost less. There are blue spinels, but these are exceedingly rare.
Spinels are most commonly found in Southeast Asia in countries like Burma, Thailand and Vietnam. They’re often found as tumbled pebbles in streams. There has also been a healthy trade in synthetic spinels. Because spinels are so rare, most people who own a spinel owns one that is synthetic. Minerals that are related to real spinels are gahnite, magnetite, franklinite, chromite, chrysoberyl and columbite-tantalite.
Possibly the most famous spinel is in the State Crown of the United Kingdom which was made for George VI. It’s called the Black Prince’s Ruby and of course it’s not a ruby at all. It’s set in the middle of the crown’s front cross among pavé diamonds. Interestingly, the top of the spinel is set with a small, real ruby to hide a hole that was made when the spinel was used as a pendant. Probably the largest spinel in the world is the Samarian Spinel of the Iranian Crown Jewels. This spinel has an impressive weight of about 500 carats and bears the name of Jehangir, who was a Mogul Emperor.About the Author:
Julia Lawrence thoroughly enjoys spending time researching and writing about diamonds, jewelry and pop culture! When she isn't hard at work writing blog posts for The Diamond Lining, she spends her time wither with an absolutely adorable Mini Golder Retriever: Jake, and her husband: Mr. Julia Lawrence.
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