Found in most parts of the world, the spinel gemstone is versatile. Many cultures have used it for thousands of years as an amulet and talisman. The history of the spinel gemstone goes back to ancient times when it was used for healing purposes and to protect against evil spirits.
The word “spinel” comes from spina, which means spine or thorn. Spinel gems are known for their ability to attract good luck, wealth, and prosperity. They have also been used to bring love into one’s life.
What is a spinel?
Spinel is a magnesium aluminum oxide mineral. It belongs to the group of zeolites. Zeolites are hydrated aluminosilicate minerals. They are formed when two or more elements combine. In the case of spinels, aluminum and magnesium combine to form MgAl2O4. It is the basic building block of all spinels.
It is found in many places around the world. Common locations include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, and Venezuela.
A brief history of the spinel gemstone
Also known as the bastard topaz, the spinel gemstones were first discovered in India during the 14th century. These stones usually have varying colors. Their hardness ranges from 7 to 8 on the Mohs scale, while their weight ranges between 3.6 – 4 carats.
Today, they can be found all over the world. Many gem forms have been discovered, and their beauty and properties have become clear.
Historical Uses of Spinel
The spinels have been used throughout the ages for various reasons, including:
- Protection against evil spirits
It is believed that the spinels can absorb negative energy and expel it out through its surface. It makes them practical tools for protection against evil spirits.
- Healing properties
Spinels are said to stimulate the mind and body. They help improve memory and concentration. They are also believed to cure headaches and migraines.
- Love spells
The spinels are often used to bring love into someone’s life. They are thought to enhance romance and strengthen relationships.
- Wealth and prosperity
It is believed that these stones will bring money and success to those who wear them.
Types of Spinel gemstone
There are two types of spinel gems, monoclinic and orthorhombic. Monoclinic spinels are usually transparent with a greenish-blue coloration. Orthorhombic spinels are generally opaque with a bluish-green coloration. Both types can be cut into cabochons, beads, pendants, rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other jewelry items.
Spinel Gemstones: Properties
- Chemical properties:
The spinel gemstone is composed of magnesium and aluminum oxide with chromium, nickel, copper, manganese, and other elements. These minerals give the Spinel its unique color range: blue, green, yellow, orange, brown, red, purple, pink, white, black, gray, and even transparent. Spinels can be found in almost any shape and size.
Common shapes include round, oval, square, triangular, octagonal, diamond-shaped, heart-shaped, pear-shaped, and teardrop-shaped.
Spinels are usually cut as cabochons, but they may also be faceted. Cabochon spinels are often gold, silver, platinum, palladium, titanium, rhodium, zirconium, and platinum.
Other metals such as brass, copper, bronze, and steel may also be used. When setting spinels in jewelry, the metal should not exceed 10% of the total weight of the Spinel. It will prevent the Spinel from losing its magnetic properties.
- Physical Properties:
Magnetism: The magnetism of a spinel gemstone depends upon the type of mineral present in the stone. For example, if the Spinel contains mainly magnetite, it will be magnetic. If the Spinel has silicon dioxide primarily, then it will not be magnetic.
Color: Most spinels are colored because of the presence of multiple oxides. However, some spinels are naturally colored due to other minerals like silica, alumina, magnesia, calcium carbonate, etc.
Hardness: A spinel gemstone’s hardness varies depending upon the amount of oxide present in the stone. Generally, the more complex the stone, the more oxides it contains.
Light Transmission: The light transmission of a spinel gem depends upon the number of iron oxides present in the stone. The higher the percentage of iron oxide, the better the light transmission.
Polishing: The polishing of a spinel gemstone depends upon the nature of the material used to polish the stone. For example, if the stone is polished using fine emery paper, it will become shiny. On the other hand, if the stone is buffed with coarse emery paper, the surface will remain dull.
Refractive Index: The refractive index of a spinel gem varies according to the type of mineral contained in the stone. For instance, if the spinel gemstone contains mainly iron oxides, it will have a high refractive index. On the other hand, if the spinel gem contains silicon dioxide primarily, then it would have a low refractive index. Refractive index means how much light bends when passing through a substance.
Spinel Gemstone categories
There are three main categories of spinels based on their physical characteristics. These are:
1) Magnetic: these stones contain ferromagnetic materials which give them their magnetic powers. The 11thncentury marinas used them to guide and magnetize their ships.
2) Non-Magnetic: this category contains non-ferrous materials like quartz, feldspar, corundum, etc.
3) Semi-magnetic: these stones contain both ferromagnetic and non-ferrous materials.
How to identify the ideal spinel gemstone
Spinel gems are sometimes confused with ruby and sapphire. All three contain almost similar properties. But specific differences between them help us distinguish one from another.
Ruby has red coloration, whereas sapphires are blue or violet. Spinels can be either red or yellowish-brown. They are generally larger than rubies and sapphires. Their hardness ranges between 7 – 9 on the Mohs scale. Ruby and sapphire are softer than spinels.
Sapphires are very expensive compared to rubies and spinels. Sapphire gemstones are usually smaller than rubies and spinels, but they are also quite rare.
The most crucial factor for choosing a spinel gemstone is its clarity. It should be free from any cracks or fractures. Also, the cut should be clean and sharp.
While we might have dwelt so much on natural spinels, many synthetic spinels are available today. The first synthetic Spinel was developed in the mid-1800s. Since then, many companies have come up with different synthetic spinels. Synthetic spinels are cheaper than natural ones. However, they lack the beauty and charm of natural spinels.
Spinel for jewelry?
Spinels are famous as gemstones and are also used as beads and pendants. Some people use them to make rings and bracelets. It is because of their unique appearance and attractive colors.
If you want to buy a spinel gemstone, you must first decide whether you want a natural or synthetic spinel. Synthetic spinels are available at affordable prices, while natural ones are pretty costly.
Whether natural or synthetic, spinels are always beautiful and elegant. You can wear them in your necklaces, earrings, rings, pendants, brooches, etc. If you want to add more sparkle to your jewelry collection, go for spinel gemstones.
Here are some reasons you’d want to consider spinel gemstone over other gemstones:
1. Spinel gems are perfect for all kinds of jewelry designs
There’s no limit to what you can do with spinel gemstones. You can use them in rings, necklaces, earrings, brooches, pendants, etc. Spinel gemstones are available in various shapes and sizes. Whether it’s round, oval, pear-shaped, square, triangular, rectangular, etc., you’ll find one that fits your style.
2. Spinel gems are easy to find
You don’t need to search for a long time to get a good quality spinel gemstone. There are plenty of online stores where you can easily buy them.
3. Spinel gems are inexpensive
Spinel gemstones are relatively cheap compared to other gems. So if you’re looking to buy something special for yourself or someone else, then spinel gemstones will fit the bill.
4. Spinel gems are durable
Spinels are known for being rugged and robust. They are resistant to heat, moisture, chemicals, and scratches. These qualities make them suitable for jewelry designs.
5. Spinel gems are eco-friendly
Spinel gemstones originate from nature. They are mined from mines and are extracted using non-toxic processes. Thus, they are safe for our environment.
6. Spinel gems are hypoallergenic
Spinel gemstones don’t cause allergic reactions. They are also hypoallergenic. It means that they won’t trigger an immune response in those who suffer from allergies.
7. Spinel gems are timeless
Spinel gemstones look great in any jewelry design. They never go out of fashion.
Spinel gemstone Faqs
Is synthetic Spinel as valuable as natural Spinel?
Synthetic Spinel has been around since the early 1900s. Scientists in Germany invented it. Today, synthetic spinels are widely used in jewelry manufacturing.
They are cheaper than natural spinels. But they lack the beauty and elegance of natural spinels. Natural spinels have been around for centuries. They were discovered in India during the 15th century.
Natural spinels are rarer than synthetic spinels. However, this doesn’t mean that they are less valuable. Natural spinels are much more expensive than synthetic spinels.
What is the difference between natural and synthetic spinels?
Natural spinels are found in nature. They are formed when iron ore gets heated up under high pressure. The process takes place underground. When the temperature cools down, the minerals solidify into crystals.
Synthetic spinels are made using chemical processes. They are created in laboratories.
Are there different types of spinels?
Yes! There are many different types of spinels. Some of these include:
• Green spinels
• Blue spinels
• Red spinels
• Yellow spinels
• Pink spinels
• White spinels
Which type should I choose?
It depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re buying a piece of jewelry, choose the color that would match your outfit. If you want to decorate your home, select the color that matches your décor.
How to care for my spinel gemstone?
The best way to take care of your spinel gemstone is to store it properly. Could you keep it away from direct sunlight? Also, avoid wearing it while swimming or showering.
Can I wear my spinel gemstone every day?
Of course! Just like any other jewelry item, you can wear your spinel gemstone every day. Spinels are very comfortable to wear. You’ll feel no pain even after hours of wearing.
Where can I get my spinel gemstone engraved?
You can engrave your spinel gemstone at most jewelers. Engraving costs about $15-$20.
Do all spinels sparkle?
No. Not at all. Spinels come in all colors, including black, brown, gray, white, red, blue, yellow, orange, purple, green, etc. These colors are not shiny. Only some of them shine.
Why do some spinels sparkle? And why don’t others?
Some spinels are naturally sparkling. Others aren’t. The reason behind this is their composition. For example, if a spinel contains iron oxide, it will be naturally sparkling. On the other hand, it won’t be naturally sparkling if it contains manganese oxide.
Doesn’t my spinel gemstone scratch easily?
Your spinel gemstone shouldn’t scratch easily. But if it does, use a soft cloth to clean it. Please don’t rub it with an abrasive material such as sandpaper. It may damage the stone.
Does my spinel gemstone fade over time?
No. Your spinel gemstone will never fade. It’s one of the reasons why people love wearing it.
Is my spinel gemstone fake?
Set it under direct UV light to determine whether your Spinel is real or fake. If you can see glowing stones inside a long wave, your Spinel is synthetic.
What is Spinel’s rarest color?
Blue Spinel is the rarest color among all spinels.
Spinels are precious gems. They have been used since ancient times. Today, they are still being used by people around the world. They are also popular among celebrities. Celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Beyonce, Jennifer Lawrence, and many more have worn spinels. So, if you’re planning to buy one, make sure that you know the differences between natural and synthetic Spinel. Be sure to also differentiate it from ruby and sapphire.