Spinel the Superb Gemstone That Rivals the Ruby
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Spinel the Superb Gemstone That Rivals the Ruby

About the gemstone spinel and famous spinel's.

Throughout most of its history this attractive red gemstone has been mistaken for the ruby. It wasn’t until the 19th century that gemologists gained the necessary knowledge to identify this gem not as the corundum ruby but as a separate gem with its own redeeming features. However this didn’t much help its cause and ever since it has remained in the shadows of its famous twin. Probably the most famous example of this is the Black Prince’s Ruby. Although the name was never changed it is in fact a fine spinal from Myanmar which decorates the front of the British Imperial state crown. If the thousands of visitors that visit the Tower of London every year didn’t know any better they would believe the Black Prince’s ruby to be just that, and one couldn’t blame them. Because it’s impossible to tell the difference between the finest quality rubies and spinel’s with the naked eye. Spinel rates 8 on the Mohs scale for hardness as compared with the ruby at 9, so it is excellent for jewelry of any type. It has a high refractive index, which gives it sparkle and complexion. Spinel is as good as a ruby and in fact can rival diamonds, although it isn’t nearly as expensive as the aforementioned.

Spinel comes in many colors, different shades and also mixed. Blue spinel cannot be confused with sapphire because the blue of spinel is more blue- grey or purple. The orange variety of spinel is sometimes called rubicelle from the French diminutive word for ruby. The color of spinel is caused by titanium, iron and zinc, although spinel from Sri Lanka can contain cobalt which is what makes it blue. There are also star spinels with four or six rays. Many spinels are beautifully transparent and clear although that said when inclusions appear they are usually zircon crystals and dark haloes or dolomite.

Some of the best spinel comes from the Mogok valley in Myanmar. In Myanmar spinel and ruby are considered interchangeable and in Thailand they are highly revered. The Hunza valley in Pakistan is also an important producer of spinel. Other countries to produce spinel are Madagascar, Brazil, Australia, Sweden, Italy, Afghanistan, Turkey and the USA. The name spinel is from the Latin meaning thorn. This is thought to refer to the spinel’s spiky shape. Synthetic spinel has been most notably used for synthetic diamonds and Synthetic blue spinel has been used to imitate sapphires.

Famous spinel’s in history:  The Samarian spinel is a 500 carat gemstone that belongs to the Iranian crown jewels. It was taken by Nadir Shah during his successful conquest to defeat the Mogul Empire in India. Another of the precious gems taken by Nadir Shah from India was the Timur ruby. At 361 carats it is the second largest spinel in the world. The Timur ruby has an inscription which tells us that it belonged to the Tartar conqueror Timur also known as Sahib Keran, although many experts believe the inscription to have been added at the time of Nadir Shah. The black Prince’s ruby (spinel) weighs in at 317 carats and is uncut. It originally belonged to a Moorish prince from Granada in the 14th century. The ruby was used as payment to put down a revolt in Spain. It was then brought to England.

The Black Prince's Ruby.

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Comments (2)

Beautiful piece on a beautiful gem nice one Peter

Very nice!