Spinel, 2.39 carat, cushion cut, purple / violet

Spinel – the affordable alternative to the big three?

It’s not everyone that can afford to own a sapphire, ruby or emerald, but there are some very attractive alternatives when it comes to buying coloured gemstones.

One of those alternatives is spinel, a much underrated gemstone that is found in several parts of Asia and Africa, historically in Sri Lanka and Burma, as well as more recent deposits in Vietnam, Madagascar and Tanzania.

Spinel comes in a wide variety of colours including blue, green, purple, violet, orange and pink. One of the most highly-prized colours for spinel is a beautiful, deep red, which was sometimes mistaken for ruby (the two stones are often found together in the same gemstone deposits). In fact, the Black Prince’s “ruby” that now adorns the State Crown of England is actually not a ruby at all, but a magnificent, 170-carat red spinel.

Black Prince's Ruby

Black Prince’s Ruby

Another fine example is the Samarian Spinel, which is the largest known spinel in the world, weighing in at a massive 500 carats (100g). This stone is part of the Iranian Crown Jewels.

Samarian Spinel

Samarian Spinel

It is believed that spinel can help bring clarity to one’s thoughts and enhance creative ideas. Each of the different colours has their own meaning and associated properties. For example, red spinel, perhaps unsurprisingly, is said to improve one’s confidence and promote qualities of leadership.

The origin of the name for this fascinating gemstone is not clear, but it is commonly thought to come from the Greek word “spinther” meaning “spark”, due to the impressive lustre of many faceted spinels.

Spinel is a very durable gemstone with an impressive lustre that is perfect for all jewellery uses. It can be faceted in many different ways and looks stunning in rings, earrings and pendants.

So, if you are looking for a beautiful, yet inexpensive, gemstone, maybe you should give a thought to spinel?

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