garnet ring

Selecting the Ideal Spinel Gemstone: A Focus on Color, Clarity, and Cut

Spinel, a captivating gemstone renowned for its fiery brilliance, presents a compelling alternative to more traditional choices like ruby and sapphire. However, navigating the selection process can be intricate due to spinel’s diverse colour spectrum and varying qualities. This article offers a discerning approach to choosing the perfect spinel, focusing on the three pillars of gemstone evaluation: colour, clarity, and cut.

A Glimpse into Spinel History

Spinel has a storied past, often intertwined with that of rubies and sapphires. Some of the world’s most famous “rubies,” including the Black Prince’s Ruby in the British Crown Jewels, are actually spinels. Historically, spinels were mined in Southeast Asia, particularly in Burma (now Myanmar), where they were highly prized by royalty. Spinels were also revered in the Middle East and Russia, where they adorned the crowns and regalia of emperors and czars.

The Science Behind

Spinels form in a variety of geological environments, often alongside corundum (the mineral species of rubies and sapphires). Their formation process involves high temperatures and pressures, contributing to their exceptional clarity and vibrant colours. Spinels are composed of magnesium aluminium oxide and are known for their hardness (8 on the Mohs scale) and excellent durability.

Chemistry: Magnesium Aluminum Oxide (MgAl2O4)

Refractive Index: 1.71 – 1.73

Birefringence: None

Specific Gravity: 3.54 – 3.63

Mohs Hardness: 8.0

What Makes Spinel Different From Ruby?

ColourWide range: red, pink, blue, violet, orange, and morePrimarily red; shades from pinkish-red to purplish-red
Chemical CompositionMagnesium aluminium oxide (MgAl₂O₄)Aluminium oxide (Al₂O₃) with chromium impurities
Heat TreatmentRarely heat-treatedCommonly heat-treated to enhance color and clarity
RarityLess common than ruby but more available in larger sizesGenerally rarer, especially in large sizes and high-quality
Historical SignificanceKnown and used in jewellery for centuries, often confused with rubyHistorically significant, valued as one of the “big three” gemstones (along with sapphire and emerald)
ValueGenerally less expensive than ruby, though high-quality stones can be valuableGenerally more expensive, especially for high-quality, untreated stones

Understanding the Color, Clarity, and Cut’s of Spinel

Colour is the most critical factor influencing the value of a spinel. They are available in an array of colours, including vibrant hot pink, vivid orange, and a range of pastel hues like violet blue and purple. Generally, the more saturated and vivid the colour, the higher the demand and value. In contrast, lighter and less intense colours tend to be less popular and are priced accordingly.

Spinel with different undertones

Colour Grades of Spinels

Spinels not only have different colour/undertone shades, but they also come in different intensities as well. At Michael Trio, our Spinel colour grades range from Vivid, Intense, Medium Intense, Light, and Very Light. Below are examples of our spinels in Gray with different intensities: 

Medium Intense
Very Light

Spinels are generally free from inclusions, which makes them particularly valued for their clarity. However, some inclusions, like rutile needles, can add to the character of the gemstone.

Thumbprint Inclusion

Some inclusion within Spinel can raise its value instead of decreasing it. Spinels sometimes contain inclusions that highly resemble fingerprints. This unique feature in spinel is what causes the value of the gem to increase.

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

The shape of the spinel crystal influences the finished stone’s shape and size. However, due to spinel’s scarcity within the market, it is cut in non-conventional sizes to save weight and maximise the amount of gems available. The cut of a spinel generally affects its brilliance and how well it reflects light. Well-cut spinels will exhibit a lively sparkle and maximize the stone’s natural beauty.

Spinel: A Gemstone Reignited for the Modern Muse

Spinel’s versatility extends beyond its color range. As the world rediscovers the beauty and unique qualities of spinel, this captivating gemstone is becoming increasingly popular in modern jewellery. You can pick from elegant rings and necklaces to statement earrings, spinels add a touch of vibrant colour and sophistication. Designers appreciate spinels for their versatility and the variety of colours available, making them a favourite for both classic and modern pieces.

Caring for Your Spinel

Proper care and maintenance are crucial to preserving the beauty and longevity of spinel gemstones. Here are three essential tips to help keep your spinel in excellent condition:

  • Cleaning: Gently clean the spinel with a soft brush, mild soap, and warm water to avoid scratching and maintain its luster.
  • Storage: Store your spinel jewellery separately in a soft-lined box to prevent scratches from other jewellery pieces.
  • Avoid Chemicals: Keep spinel away from harsh chemicals and extreme temperatures to prevent potential damage.

Spinel gemstones are truly special, with a rich history and a stunning variety of colours. They are durable and beautiful, making them perfect for all kinds of jewellery. Though they are often mistaken for rubies and sapphires, spinels have their own unique charm and value. Knowing about the history, 4Cs, and their symbolic meaning can help you choose the perfect spinel.

For a personalized touch, visit Michael Trio Malaysia to create your custom ring. You can add a spinel gemstone to your design and craft a unique piece of jewellery that reflects your taste.