Spinel: The August birthstone
“I could be any colour you like” by Stella Jang goes perfectly with the characteristic of Spinel. This gem comes in a variety of mesmerising colours.
So, what’s your favourite colour?
Most people sort after the deep red or pink spinel.
Here’s a detailed blog taking you through the origin and history to the treatments and pricing of Spinel.
Introduction and color
Carrying strong, deep colors, spinel is an underrated August gemstone. The structure of the stone consists of sharp and pointed crystals because of its octahedron crystal form, almost as if they were spines. Well, that’s how this gem got its name- Spinella in Latin.
It comes in all shades of pink, lavender, red, red-orange, purple, black and even blue. These are abundant, found on almost every continent. Historically, the blue and red varieties were often mistaken for rubies and sapphires. Well, are they really to be blamed?
These gemstones actually belong to a large group of minerals (aluminum spinels) consisting of Gahnite, hercynite, ceylonite, picotite and galaxite.
Formation and Chemical composition
The composition of Spinel consists of magnesium aluminum oxide. Spinel is found as a metamorphic mineral, and as a primary mineral in rare mafic igneous rocks. It is common in peridotite in the uppermost Earth’s mantle.
History of Spinel
In earlier times, spinel was known as ‘balas ruby’ or ‘lal’, the Persian word for balas ruby. This comes from an ancient word for Badakhshan, a province in Northern Afghanistan that is famous for its rubies and spinel mines.
The Badakhshan mines were of great importance as early as 1000 – 1900 AD, and one of the earliest references to them occurs in the diary of Marco Polo (1254 – 1324 AD).
Birthstone Species and varieties
Most spinels with a high worth, or red ruby color, are produced from alluvial deposits in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. Spinel’s popularity has surged because of availability, and the surge in availability is due in part to the new production from Vietnam and Tanzania. These new deposits are providing the market with dreamy colors that speak to the latest Pantone palette in hues from Rose Quartz and Lilac Gray to Bodacious purple and Riverside blue.
August birthstone spinel is known to healers to inspire renewal, recovery and safety. Primarily based on the shade, spinels are attributed with distinct restoration homes. For example, red spinel gemstone is thought to promote energy and they are acknowledged to convey love and the aristocracy within the wearer’s nature. Violet spinel stone signifies non-secular boom whereas yellow spinel favours the intellectual improvement of the wearer.
Importance of birthstone in astrology
Blue Spinel is semi-precious and sub stone/Uparatna for Saturn/Shani planet. Saturn is a karaka, or indicator, of longevity, misery, sorrow, old age and death, discipline, restriction, responsibility, delays, ambition, leadership and authority, humility, integrity, wisdom born of experience. Saturn also indicates asceticism, denial, non-attachment, spirituality, hard work, organization, reality and time itself. Blue Spinel has the divine power to give mental peace, wealth & happiness by removing all hurdles of the native’s life. The wearer of the Blue Spinel never becomes the claimant of disrepute in the society.
Spinel is believed to provide support during recovery periods from illness or trauma. It can also reduce fatigue and replenish diminishing energy levels. It’s known to alleviate feelings of soreness and physical swelling. This stone also has a calming effect on all kinds of physical inflammations. It is mainly recommended to remedy lethargy and boost internal power. For people who are getting better from a broken relationship, spinel is an absolute bliss.
Physical and Optical properties of Spinel
Spinel has a hardness of 7.5 to 8 on Mohs scale, with an isometric crystal system. It occurs in octahedral crystals, perfectly shaped octahedrons. It can be transparent or opaque, with a specific gravity ranging from 3.5 to 4.1. It has a vitreous, submetallic or dull luster, with no cleavage. It has conchoidal fractures, having brittle tenacity.
Demand and scope:
Spinel, until the recent times was an underappreciated gemstone, shying away from consumer recognition. Although, increasing demand for rubies has rekindled appreciation for spinel’s rich red color and history. In the ancient times, southeast Asia’s mines produced great spinel crystals, which were treasured by the kings and emperors, passing on as assets and wins of war.
High heat can cause some spinel colors to fade, but spinel is stable when exposed to light and chemicals. Ultrasonic cleaners might work on spinels, although they might pose a problem with certain fractures. It’s better to clean it with soapy water.
Some of the world’s finest spinels give rubies a challenge for their worth. The ‘Hope Spinel’ , is a 50.13ct spinel from the world’s greatest gem collections owned by Henry Philip Hop who died in 1839. Named as rubies, the ‘Black Prince Ruby’ and ‘The Timur Ruby’ are actually spinels, the former is now the showpiece of Britain’s Imperial State crown, and the latter was presented to Queen Victoria by the East India Company.
Identification of Spinel
For practical identification of spinel click to the below link.
Spinels are rarely treated, but they might have light fractures – therefore, they maybe fracture filled to improve their apparent clarity. They might be subjected to color altering heat treatment. The treatment is stable under normal wearing conditions.
The most highly prized colors in spinel are intense red to purplish red and orange red. Many hues exist, and there are distinct changes compared to ruby. There is more clarity to spinel, lacking dichroism and having more evenness of color. In terms of clarity, spinel is often cleaner than ruby. The very finest reds are so rare that some clarity defect is almost always present (usually fractures). Prices of intense cobalt-blue spinels can compete with, or even exceed, those for the finest reds.
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