Spinel has been making a name for itself over the last couple of decades, and demand exceeds supply. Spinel comes in a variety of colors, but the most commercially important are red and pink.
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What To Look For
The most valued spinel colors are the vivid reds and cobalt blues that remind us why spinel was once confused with ruby and sapphire. Although the most commercially important colors are red and pink, mauve- or lilac-colored gems are also attractive, and some blue spinel colors can be very valuable.
Clarity Refers To The Inclusions
Pastel colors 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 center stones in rings. Commercial qualities are more commonly cut to standard sizes for jewelry.
Spinel Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide
Tips & Advice
1. Understand the difference that color makes.
Look at different colors of spinel side by side to understand the range of qualities available. Pale colors 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 jeweler.
Because spinel is an unusual gem, make sure you choose a jeweler 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.
Questions & Answers
How do I know that the spinel I’m buying is natural?
Make sure your invoice specifies that the spinel you are buying is natural. If you have any doubt, a report from the GIA lab will confirm whether a spinel is natural.
How do I know if a blue spinel has cobalt in it?
Although cobalt blue spinels do owe their vivid color to traces of cobalt, it’s the color that makes them valuable, not the presence of that coloring agent. If your spinel has a rich saturated blue color, it is rare and valuable whether or not it contains traces of cobalt.
Does GIA grade spinel?
GIA evaluates spinel but does not grade it. A GIA Colored Stone Identification Report assesses the characteristics of any polished, rough, mounted or loose material (weight, measurements, shape, cutting style and color); identifies whether it is natural or laboratory-grown; and names any detectable treatments. Red spinel can be submitted for a Colored Stone Identification & Origin Report.
What’s AAA-quality spinel?
Although individual companies might create their own quality descriptions, like AAA, AA and A, to denote the range of quality of their goods, no standard quality-grading scales exist for spinel.
Find out moreSpinel: Questions & Answers
Caring for Your Spinel
Keep your spinel beautiful by following simple care and cleaning guidelines.
Spinel is durable enough for rings and mountings subject to daily wear.
Care and Cleaning
Warm soapy water is always safe.
Spinel is rarely treated, but might have fractures. Only clean fracture-filled gemstones with warm, soapy water.