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Natural Spinel

Spinel is an attractive gemstones with fine red and pink varieties and interesting blues. Spinel is the magnesium aluminium member of the larger spinel group of minerals. It has the formula MgAl2O4 in the cubic crystal system. Spinel occurs in almost every color, and forms gems of all colors. Spinel is hard (8 on Mohs's scale) and has a singhe refractive index of 1.718 and specific gravity of 3.60.

Natural spinel is a beautiful and highly valued gemstone known for its vibrant colors, brilliance, and durability. Often overshadowed by more famous gemstones like ruby and sapphire, spinel has gained recognition for its own unique qualities. Here’s an in-depth look at natural spinel:

Origin and Formation

  • Geological Formation: Spinel forms in metamorphic and igneous rocks, particularly in marble and other limestone deposits. It crystallizes under high-temperature and high-pressure conditions.
  • Mining Locations: Significant sources of spinel include Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Tanzania, and Tajikistan. Myanmar, in particular, is famous for producing high-quality red spinels.

Colors and Varieties

  • Color Range: Spinel occurs in a wide range of colors, including red, blue, pink, purple, orange, and black. The color is influenced by trace elements such as chromium, iron, and cobalt.
    • Red Spinel: Highly prized and often compared to ruby. It owes its color to chromium.
    • Blue Spinel: Can range from light to dark blue, influenced by iron or cobalt.
    • Pink Spinel: Popular for its delicate and vibrant hues.
    • Other Colors: Includes purple, orange, and colorless varieties.
  • Star Spinel: Rare variety exhibiting asterism (star effect) due to needle-like inclusions.

Characteristics

  • Luster: Spinel has a vitreous (glass-like) luster, contributing to its brilliance.
  • Clarity: High-quality spinel is typically transparent, though inclusions are common. Eye-clean stones (without visible inclusions) are more valuable.
  • Hardness: With a hardness of 8 on the Mohs scale, spinel is durable and suitable for everyday wear.

Treatments and Enhancements

  • Heat Treatment: Unlike many other gemstones, spinel is rarely treated. Natural spinels with vibrant colors are highly valued.
  • Synthetic Spinel: Laboratory-created spinel exists and is used in some jewelry. Natural spinel is more valuable and should be certified.

Evaluation and Quality Factors

  • Color: The most critical factor in determining value. Rich, intense colors are highly prized, especially red, blue, and pink spinels.
  • Clarity: Spinel is usually eye-clean, but stones with fewer and less noticeable inclusions are more valuable.
  • Cut: Well-cut spinel maximizes its brilliance and color. Common cuts include oval, cushion, and round.
  • Carat Weight: Larger spinel stones are rare and can be very valuable, though the overall value depends on the combination of color, clarity, and cut.

Symbolism and Uses

  • Symbolism: Spinel is associated with rejuvenation, hope, and revitalization. It is believed to bring energy and inspiration to the wearer.
  • Jewelry: Used in a variety of jewelry, including rings, earrings, pendants, and bracelets. Its durability and brilliance make it suitable for all types of fine jewelry.

Care and Maintenance

  • Durability: Spinel’s hardness makes it resistant to scratching and suitable for daily wear. However, it should be protected from hard blows to prevent chipping.

Buying Tips

  • Certification: Purchase from reputable dealers and ask for a gemological certificate from recognized laboratories (e.g., GIA, AGS) to confirm authenticity and any treatments.
  • Examine the Stone: Look for even color distribution, good clarity, and a well-executed cut. Ensure the stone’s brilliance and overall appearance meet your expectations.

Natural spinel gemstones, with their exceptional range of colors and sparkling brilliance, are a fantastic choice for collectors and jewelry enthusiasts. They offer a combination of beauty, durability, and historical significance that makes them highly desirable.

 

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