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Spinel properties and characteristics

August 16, 2021


It is one of the most famous deceiving stones in the history of jewelry. Very often, monarchs passed off this mineral as ruby ​​and decorated crowns with it. Indeed, red spinel is visually indistinguishable from ruby, and the difference can only be detected by detailed analysis. However, spinel can be more than just red. The rich palette of this stone, as well as its unique properties and characteristics, allows it to be confused with sapphires, emeralds, and even diamonds. That is why natural gem-quality spinel has been rapidly gaining fame in up-to-date years as a rare precious and semi-precious gem. Therefore, in the jewelry market, one can notice an increased demand for this stone and the fact that it comes in limited quantities.

And in this article, you will learn in detail why this is happening by discovering the characteristics of spinel, the chemical additions that affect its color, and the types of stone that make spinel one of the most versatile gems in the world. We are sure that the article will be useful to those who want to decide "Which stone to choose for jewelry?". Therefore, the information below will help give you a clear answer to this question.

What properties does spinel have?

The chemical formula of the stone is MgAl2O4. The color scheme is very diverse and involves pink, red, orange, blue, purple, black. Sometimes there are stones of colorless, yellow, and green tones. The mineral changes color depending on which ions are incorporated into its crystal lattice. The most common impurities are the following:

  • zinc,
  • chromium,
  • iron,
  • titanium,
  • manganese,
  • calcium,
  • chlorine.

Ions color the mineral in different tones but do not affect the physicochemical characteristics of the stone. The pure variety is totally transparent but rarely found in nature. Spinel possesses a strong glassy luster, due to which it perfectly accepts polishing and is very beautiful when cut. Also, excellent physical properties include the following:

  • Mohs scale hardness: 7.5-8 units,
  • High variance: 0.026,
  • Refractive index: 1.712-1.762,
  • Density: 3.54 3.65 g cm3,
  • Transparency: transparent or translucent stone.

Spinel is a quite hard but very fragile gem. For this reason, it requires careful care. The stone is mainly used in jewelry. Large gem-quality crystals are rare and are therefore especially valuable. It is worth noting separately such a rare property as the lack of treatment in most cases. Therefore, you can find real spinel on the market, whose amazing color was created by nature.

If you would like to look at this stone in more detail, you can go to our catalog of spinel gems. Each lot has attached videos and photos to help you create the right impression of the stone. It is also worth highlighting the fact that spinel has many varieties that deserve a separate section in this article.

What are the different types of spinel present in nature?

types of spinel

Spinel has many varieties, but not all stones are considered noble and are of interest to jewelers. At the moment, you can find the following most popular varieties of the mineral:

  • Blue. Blue spinel is one of the rare varieties of the mineral. Jewelers often refer to the bright blue mineral as cobalt. Sometimes crystals are found that can change color to dark purple hues. Depending on the impurities, there are different shades of cornflower blue, indigo, azure, deep or rich blue.
  • Purple. This attractive shade of the gem, sometimes with a tiny amount of pink or steel gray, looks refined and gentle in jewels. In light lilac and lavender exemplars, the play of color on the edges is beautifully revealed dispersion.
  • Black and gray. Export of black spinel, or, as it is also called, picotite, comes from Burma. Such stones are sometimes remarkable for their amazing clarity and transparency. It is noteworthy that quality spinel gems are often used as a kind of black diamond. It ranges from gray transparent to black opaque. However, the highly polished black variety has an excellent sheen.
  • Red. Any shade of red mineral is distinguished by its nobility and richness. Colors ruby, dark scarlet, burgundy, juicy watermelon, raspberry, wine. The largest mining site in Myanmar. As you know, a gem is mined there along with ruby because it is almost impossible to distinguish them. It is believed that the spinel of red and pink shades helps draw attention to yourself and endear the interlocutor.
  • Pink. A worthy noble stone of a delicate and romantic pink hue, suitable for creating world-class women's jewelry, circled by white diamonds, pink spinel is especially delightful.
  • White (colorless). A rare white kind of this gem looks colorless. However, sometimes there may be a slight hue of pink, gray, and lavender, appearing in various lighting conditions. In the composition of colorless spinel, there are no or minimal coloring impurities, and it has high transparency. Like other colorless stones, for example, sapphires, beryls, topaz, or danburites, when cut, it resembles a diamond. However, due to different features, lower values ​​of dispersion, and gloss, it plays more modestly.

Spinels are excellent gems that are renowned for their excellent properties and characteristics. It adorns the unreasonable amount of jewelry of many jewelry houses, creating unreasonable beauty and harmony of neighboring gemstones. Wear this stone too to get a truly profitable product that will become a pedestal of charm and a highlight of your image.

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