Spinel has been making a name for itself over the last couple of decades, and demand exceeds supply. Spinel comes in a variety of colours, but the most commercially important are red and pink.
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What to look for
The most valued spinel colours are the vivid reds and cobalt blues that remind us why spinel was once confused with ruby and sapphire. Although the most commercially important colours are red and pink, mauve- or lilac-coloured gems are also attractive, and some blue spinel colours can be very valuable.
Clarity Refers To The Inclusions
Pastel colours of spinel are expected to be relatively free of inclusions but saturated reds and blues are rare, so some inclusions are expected. Some gems have beautiful inclusions that reflect the gem’s octahedral crystal growth. They might appear in groups that resemble human fingerprints.
Spinel is most often cut in cushion and oval shapes. When properly proportioned it has excellent brilliance. Because of the scarcity of spinel on the market, most fine-quality rough is cut in non-standard sizes to save weight, instead of in standard industry sizes.
Carat Weight Allows For Precise Measurements
Although the spinels of history are impressively large, this gem is rare in sizes above five carats today. Standard-cut, or calibrated, stones are available, usually in 6×4-mm and 7×5-mm sizes, suitable for centre stones in rings. Commercial qualities are more commonly cut to standard sizes for jewellery.
Spinel Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide
Tips & Advice
1. Understand the difference that colour makes.
Look at different colours of spinel side by side to understand the range of qualities available. Pale colours are more affordable than vivid shades.
2. Don’t compromise on cut.
The quality of the cut can make a big difference in beauty and brilliance. Your spinel should sparkle in a lively way, reflecting light back evenly across the entire gem. Poorly cut gems are much less marketable and sell at a discount.
3. Work with a knowledgeable jeweller.
Because spinel is an unusual gem, make sure you choose a jeweller who has gemological knowledge and expertise.
4. When in doubt, get a lab report.
For a significant purchase, consider a report from an independent laboratory like GIA to confirm that the spinel you are buying is natural.