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By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk

Spinel Gemstone Value

Natural Pink Tanzanian Spinel
Natural Pink Spinel

Spinel is a stunning gemstone that has been gaining popularity in the world of jewelry due to its vibrant colors and remarkable brilliance. This gemstone comes in a variety of hues, including red, pink, blue, purple, and black, making it a versatile choice for jewelry enthusiasts. 

Natural spinel continues to be one of the most undervalued of the fine gemstones. The reasons are largely historical. Since spinel is found in the same locations as corundum, specimens of spinel were often misidentified as ruby or sapphire. The most famous example is the Black Prince's Ruby, a huge uncut spinel mounted in the front of the Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom. This remarkable gem, weighing approximately 170 carats, has been in the possession of the British Royal Family since the 14th century, and until recently was believed to be a ruby.

Spinel was recognized as a distinct gem type only in 1783. While it is nearly as hard as sapphire or ruby (rating 8 on the Mohs scale compared to 9 for corundum) and has a similar refractive index, spinel is one of the very few gemstones that is singly refractive. That makes it very easy to distinguish from corundum with the use of simple instruments.

Blue Spinel from Tanzania
Blue Spinel from Tanzania

One of the key factors that contribute to the value of Spinel is its rarity. While Spinel has been mistaken for other gemstones such as rubies and sapphires in the past, it is now recognized for its unique beauty and distinct characteristics. This rarity adds to the allure of Spinel and makes it a prized gemstone among collectors.

In addition to its rarity, Spinel is also known for its exceptional clarity and brilliance. Its high refractive index gives it a dazzling sparkle that can rival even the most precious gemstones. This, combined with its vivid colors, makes Spinel a highly desirable gemstone for use in jewelry.

Red Spinel from Burma
Red Burmese Spinel

The value of Spinel is also influenced by factors such as size, color, and cut. Larger Spinel gemstones with intense, vivid colors are typically more valuable than smaller, paler stones. A well-cut Spinel gemstone will showcase its brilliance and color to their fullest potential, further enhancing its value.

Fine spinel compares favorably with ruby and sapphire for brilliance, luster and fire, and it is a very durable gem with excellent hardness and indistinct cleavage. It also occurs in a wide range of colors, ranging from red and pink, to violet, blue, orange, green and silver.

However, what makes natural spinel rather special on today's gemstone market is that it is never heated or treated. To date, there is no known treatment that can improve the color or clarity of natural spinel. Conversely, a great deal of sapphire and ruby on the market has been enhanced by heat treatment. This makes it surprising that untreated spinel still sells for less than 50% of the price of heated sapphire or ruby. It is a situation that is likely to change as the virtues of spinel become better recognized.

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