Myths and legends

What is spinel in jewelry?

Spinel is a mineral of rare beauty, which is a mixture of magnesium oxide and aluminum. The noble radiance and variety of bright shades have made this stone one of the most beloved and revered in jewelry. Radiating warmth and radiance, spinel attracts happiness and love to its owner, relieves him of illness, protects him from troubles and troubles. Jewelry with this gem can become a powerful amulet, but it will only bring benefits if a person treats it with care and respect.

Physical properties and history of the stone

Spinel stone has been known to mankind since ancient times. Its name is borrowed from the Latin word spinelle and means small thorn. This name was most likely given to the gem because of the pointed shape of its crystals. There is also a version that the name of the mineral comes from the ancient Greek word spinos – to sparkle. In the Middle Ages, the gem was called lal. This name united a whole group of expensive red jewelry stones, but the primacy here was held by spinel. Spinel belongs to the group of rare and expensive jewelry gems. Its crystals are most often small, but occasionally samples can be found weighing more than 10 kg and exceeding 30 cm in length. The mineral is distinguished by imperfect cleavage, conchoidal fracture and a sparkling glassy luster with a lack of birefringence and pleochroism. Pure spinel crystals are transparent and colorless, but such specimens are very rare. The mineral impurities included in the stone color it red, pink, yellow, blue, indigo, violet, green, brown and black. The hardness of minerals on the Mohs scale reaches 8 units, which is only 2 positions less than that of diamonds. The first mention of spinel dates back to the 13th century and belongs to the famous traveler Marco Polo. While in the Pamirs, the Italian saw how local residents were mining red sparkling crystals, which, due to their external resemblance, he mistook for rubies and corundums. Because of this, Marco Polo called the spinel mining region ruby ​​mines. In the 19th century, red spinel was carefully studied. After a series of studies, scientists came to the conclusion that the mineral has nothing in common with ruby ​​and has qualities unique to it. A lot of ancient jewelry was subjected to detailed analysis and it turned out that the gems used as rubies were actually spinels. Due to its rarity and unusual beauty, spinel has been extremely popular at all times. It served as decoration for the Monomakh Cap and the imperial crown of Catherine II. A precious gem weighing 105 carats adorned the crown of French kings. Today it is kept in the Louvre. The most famous spinel in history is the Black Prince’s Ruby. It was presented to the ruler of Wales, Edward, in the 2nd half of the 170th century by the King of Castile. The gem, which actually turned out to be a large spinel the size of a chicken egg and weighing XNUMX carats, was passed on to the English king Henry V at the beginning of the XNUMXth century. The monarch never parted with the stone. When the enemy cut off Henry V’s helmet in one of the battles of the Hundred Years’ War, he could not kill him, as his sword came across the Black Prince’s Ruby. Since then, it has been believed that the gem saved the king from death. During the English bourgeois revolution, the gem disappeared, but soon after its end it was returned to the royal family. From those times to the present day, it has served as an adornment to the crown of British kings.

Types of mineral, its cost

  1. Noble spinel is a transparent crystal with a deep, rich color. Red specimens of the mineral are called ruby ​​spinel, reddish-orange – rubicell, reddish-pink – bale ruby, blue – spinel sapphire, and purple – oriental sapphire. In addition to the listed shades, this type of gemstone includes green and blue spinel, as well as gemstones with alexandrite shimmer, which change their color depending on the lighting. Precious spinel is mined in Asia. Its largest deposits are located in Tajikistan, India, on the islands of Sri Lanka and Borneo.
  2. Pleonast (otherwise ceylonite, ordinary spinel) is a translucent mineral containing a large amount of iron. This type of spinel comes in dark green, brown and black shades. In nature, pleonaste is found much more often than noble spinel. In the Russian Federation it is mined in the Urals.
  3. Picotite (chrome spinel) is opaque crystals of black, brown and greenish-brown colors. Their dark shade is given by the chromium impurities in their composition, which partially replace aluminum. The main deposit of picotite is Sri Lanka. Minor mining of the mineral is carried out in Afghanistan, India, the USA, Brazil, and Thailand.
  4. Ganit (zinc spinel, falunite) are rare minerals of green, blue, blue and violet shades with zinc and iron in their composition. The gem is mined in Russia, Germany, Sweden, India, Pakistan, USA, New Zealand, Australia and Madagascar.

Spinel belongs to the group of rare jewelry stones and has a high cost. The low price of the gem indicates that it is most likely a fake. The most affordable variety of spinel are grayish-blue stones. Their cost is about 25 US dollars per 1 carat. The price of purple minerals starts at $200. Blue or pink spinel will cost the buyer $100-300 per carat. Red stones are considered the most expensive. Their cost can reach $600 per 1 carat.

Using gems for medicinal purposes

The healing properties of spinel stone were first described in the 16th century by the Swiss alchemist Paracelsus. The ancient scientist used the powder obtained after grinding the gem to treat many diseases. Modern lithotherapists use the stone to combat myopia, increase the body’s defenses, activate blood circulation, and eliminate pain in muscles and joints. A person using spinel to treat diseases must take into account that each shade of this mineral has its own properties.

Red spinel has a beneficial effect on the blood, strengthens the immune system and helps the body recover after a stroke. In the East, red gems have been used by men since ancient times to enhance potency and attract the attention of the fair sex.

Jewelry with pink spinel helps a person to calm down, relieves him of nightmares, and cures insomnia. Gems of a soft pink hue are a wonderful remedy for combating skin diseases.

Blue spinel has a beneficial effect on the gastrointestinal tract. The stone is recommended to be worn by people suffering from diseases of the stomach, pancreas, gallbladder, and liver. The mineral also has a beneficial effect on the thyroid gland and respiratory system.

Green gems help in the treatment of headaches, arthritis, heart disease, and arterial hypertension. The stone helps normalize metabolic processes in the body and has a positive effect on the eyes.

Black spinel increases blood pressure, stops bleeding, and helps with poor health. It relieves painful manifestations of wounds and bruises and accelerates their healing.

Magical abilities of the stone

Spinel properties have found their use not only in medicine, but also in magic. Sorcerers and sorcerers are confident that a stone can give a person faith in his own strength, attract good luck, happiness and love to him. It helps to discover supernatural abilities, choose the right path in life and achieve your plans. But spinel benefits only kind, generous and sincere people. If a person is angry and envious, he should not hope for the favor of the stone. Touching a gem can bring misfortune or even death to it.

In order for the magical properties of the mineral to be maximally manifested, it must be worn framed in gold. For example, in a ring, spinel will help single girls attract love into their lives and find a worthy spouse. It should be worn on the ring or index finger of the left hand. For a married couple, gold bracelets or rings with a gem will help bring passion back into the relationship and prevent divorce. For men, jewelry will help preserve sexual energy until old age.

When choosing a zodiac amulet, it is important to consider that spinel is ideal for persons born under the signs of Aquarius, Aries, Leo, Sagittarius and Capricorn. The gem will fill them with positive energy, improve their mental abilities and strong-willed qualities. Spinel will help Pisces, Taurus and Libra to quickly make the right decision. It will make them physically resilient and will help them build a career.

Obtaining and using artificial gems

In recent years, jewelry often comes on sale that is decorated with synthetic spinel – an artificial stone obtained by crystallizing glass using catalysts. To achieve the required shade, copper, iron, manganese, chromium, cobalt and other metals are added to the mass. As a result of this process, the master manages to obtain a transparent glassy stone with microcrystals evenly distributed inside, which is practically no different from a natural mineral. Nanospinel (the so-called synthetic analogue of a gem) has high strength and heat resistance. These qualities allow it to be used in the production of jewelry. In addition to the jewelry sphere, synthetic spinel is actively used as a dielectric and optical raw material in the manufacture of various devices and devices.

This semi-precious stone has been confused with sapphire and ruby ​​for centuries.

People encountered spinel in ancient times; Marco Polo already mentioned it in the 13th century. It began to be singled out as an independent gemstone only a century and a half ago. Before this, spinel in Russia was called “lal”, like other red gems – ruby, pyrope, tourmaline. For a whole millennium, spinel was mistaken for anything: blue for sapphire, red for ruby ​​and garnet, yellow for topaz, purple for amethyst.

According to the Smithsonian Institution, until 1783, spinel was not at all distinguished from rubies and sapphires. For example, it was only in the 1922th century that specialists from the British Museum determined that the stone in the crown of Britain was not a ruby, but a spinel. Spinel, then considered a ruby, managed to occupy a central place in the state crowns of two great empires, Russian and British. Only in XNUMX, a commission by academician Alexander Fersman found out that the red stone in the crown of the Russian Empire was not a ruby, but a spinel. The unusual name of the stone comes from the Latin word spinella – a diminutive of spina ‘thorn, thorn’, which is associated with the characteristic shape of the crystals – octahedron.


The price of spinel is influenced by color, clarity, quality of cut, weight and origin. Nowadays, pink spinel or bale ruby ​​is widely available on the market. Much rarer and more expensive is the scarlet-red variety – noble spinel. The rarest is cobalt blue spinel. Due to their resemblance to amethyst, lavender and purple spinel are not very popular. Sometimes, it exhibits a weak alexandrite effect. In daylight, such stones have a purple color, and in artificial light, they are reddish-violet. Spinel has a strong vitreous luster, high dispersion and excellent polishability. It is usually cut in the form of an oval, cushion, radiant or pear. Stones with asterism are usually made into cabochons. The effect of asterism often manifests itself in the form of a 6-rayed star, and less often 4-rayed. It is caused by small crystals of rutile, sillimanite, titanite or corundum. The same inclusions give the effect of silk and the effect of moonstone. In the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, USA, there is a spinel with a diasterism effect, in which the 7-pointed star is visible in transmitted light.

Natural spinel in various colors

The nature of color

Spinel consists of mixed magnesium and aluminum oxide MgAl2O4. The color of the mineral depends on the content of impurities of various elements in the structure: red and pink colors correspond to chromium, orange to chromium and ferrous iron, blue, violet and black to ferrous iron, blue, cobalt and ferrous iron, and green to ferric iron.


Spinel often has natural defects in the form of gas-liquid inclusions and minerals. Mineral inclusions are an important diagnostic feature, sometimes it even allows you to determine the deposit of the stone. For example, Burma spinel is characterized by inclusions of calcite, dolomite, apatite and olivine. Ceylon spinel contains inclusions of zircon, titanite and baddeleyite. In most cases, defects are clearly visible at tenfold magnification.

Place of Birth

Spinel rarely forms independent deposits; it is mainly found in placers. The best pink and red stones are mined in the Mogok region of Myanmar (Burma). In Sri Lanka, the blue variety is mined, in the Pamirs there is a deposit of pink and pink-red spinel, known since ancient times – Kuhi-Lal. In Vietnam, a rare blue cobalt variety is mined, as well as pink and red-violet varieties. Pink-red stones of good quality are also found in Tanzania. The gem-quality mineral is also found in Afghanistan, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Brazil and Australia.

Ennoblement and
artificial spinel

Spinel is rarely refined. Sometimes it is possible to fill cracks with oils or polymers to visually improve cleanliness. Low temperature heating of the stone can improve the clarity of stones containing whitish accumulations of rutile – after heating the rutile dissolves. Jewelry synthetic spinel is synthesized using the Verneuil method: Al2O and MgO powders are melted after being treated with a detonating gas flame at a temperature of 2500°C, and the melt in the form of drops falls to the bottom of the furnace with a seed. The monocrystal grows gradually in the form of a bulk. In jewelry, synthetic spinel is often used as an imitation of other jewelry stones – sapphires, rubies, aquamarines and alexandrites. Garnet, strontium titanate, and glass can be used as spinel imitations.


  1. Betekhtin A. G. Mineralogy course. – Moscow: KDU, 2007. – 721 p.
  2. Lagutenkov Alexey Alexandrovich. Great Encyclopedia of Precious Stones – M.: AST Publishing House, 2018. – 224 pp.: ill. — (Large collection of hobbies) ISBN: 978-5-17-109760-8 (AST Publishing House LLC).
  3. Levitsky V.I., Petrova Z.I. Some patterns of formation of noble spinel occurrences in the Baikal region. // On Sat. Mineralogy and genesis of colored stones of Eastern Siberia. Novosibirsk The science. 1983. pp. 5-13.
  4. Litsarev M.A. and others. Violet spinel of the SW Pamirs. — In the book: Precious and colored stones. M.: Nauka, 1980, pp. 199-210.

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