What is a Spinel Gem? | The Diamond Reserve

What is a Spinel Gem?

Spinel is a gemstone that comes in a variety of colors and is known for its brilliance and durability. It’s often mistaken for rubies or sapphires due to its resemblance and presence in historical gem collections. Spinel is one of only a few gemstones that can be found in every color of the spectrum, and is one of the rarest colored gemstones. It’s also a very durable stone, making it an excellent choice for jewelry, including engagement rings. 

What Color is Spinel?

Spinel, (pronounced spin-elle) is composed of magnesium aluminum oxide and belongs to the cubic crystal system. It’s an allochromatic gem, which means that it’s purest when colorless. The presence of cobalt, iron and chromium will lead to different color variations, resulting in red, orange, black, green, pink, lavender and purple stones. The most famous color of spinel is a vibrant red, often referred to as “flame spinel.”

Some of the most famous historical gems, including the Black Prince’s Ruby, a centerpiece of the British Imperial State Crown originally thought to be rubies turned out to be spinel. The color of spinel is what determines its value, and because red spinel is easily mistaken for rubies, these colored stones are seen as more valuable, though spinels are more reflective and glittering than rubies, because of their different optical characteristics. 

Blue spinel is the next high-value color and ranges from violet-blue to a greenish-blue, with most stones appearing grayish blue. The deep blue color that arises when colored with cobalt is the most coveted, as it resembles a sapphire. Spinels range from deeply saturated tones to light pastels, and come in countless hues. While other colored gemstones are treated to intensify their color and improve clarity, spinel looks vivid and bright entirely au naturel. Yellow and green spinel are rare in natural form, but can be lab-created.

Is Spinel Good for an Engagement Ring? 

Spinel comes in a wide range of colors, including vibrant reds, pinks, blues, and purples, which allows you to select a stone that matches your style. Spinel exhibits excellent clarity and brilliance thanks to its high refractive index. It sparkles and reflects light beautifully, making for a striking and eye-catching engagement ring. Spinel’s uniqueness and rarity make it a distinctive gemstone for an engagement ring, setting it apart from more traditional choices like diamonds or sapphires. 

With a hardness rating of 8 on Mohs scale, spinel is hard and less prone to scratching and chipping compared to softer gemstones like opals or emeralds. It’s also very tough, meaning it won’t break easily and doesn’t exhibit cleavage (planes in its crystal structure that are prone to separation) like a diamond. It’s not as brittle or prone to fractures as emerald, topaz, and many other hard gems. These two qualities, hardness and toughness, make spinel one of the most durable gems, it can withstand everyday wear and maintain its beauty over time.

Spinel offers excellent value for its quality and characteristics, and costs less than ruby and sapphire of comparable size and quality. Spinels can be designed in any type of metal, and you may want to consider a setting that will protect the stone’s edges like a halo or bezel setting. Like any stone, if you choose a more delicate and less protective setting, you should take your ring off before indulging in any activity that could damage the stone.

Due to its beauty, durability and unique color options, spinel has gained popularity as a gemstone choice in an array of fashion jewelry pieces. Let us help you create the perfect custom piece of jewelry. Give us a call at 303-385-8449 or click here to schedule an appointment.