Spinel stone is unusual in that it has been mistaken for rarer gems throughout the centuries. It is actually made up of magnesium aluminum oxide and, in some forms, reacts to magnets. It is often called “the great imposture” because throughout history it’s been mistaken for rubies and sapphires. Following are some other interesting facts about its properties, meaning, occurrence and more.

General Information About Spinel Stone

Intense Red Tanzanian Spinel Stone

For centuries Spinel stone has been mistaken for more valuable gemstones. The Latin word “spina” is believed to be the origin of the term. It translates to “little thorn” that could pertain to the sharp points that develop on some of the raw stones during formation.

Although it is believed to have been used for centuries, Marco Polo first wrote about it during the 12th-13th century. He explained that the king in the Badashan province, with gems taken from the Badakhshan mines, paid tribute to other kings as well as sold them to rebuild his coffers when they became depleted.

One of the most interesting facts is that sailors used the gems as early as the 11th century because of the magnetic quality in some of the gems. By embedding them in their compasses they found that they could navigate the seas accurately. They began tracking their voyages on charts from which they developed the art of cartography that provided the world with some of the earliest maps of Earth.

It’s not uncommon for Spinel stones to be confused with more valuable gems such as rubies and sapphires. Because it was also found in the same mine as corundum, it was also frequently confused with that gem as well. Since it can now be synthetically created, its reputation has suffered. Nonetheless, in natural form it’s still a thing of beauty that can be found for a modest price.

Properties of Spinel Stone

Varities: Plenoaste, Gahnospinel, Ceylonite, Hercynite and Chromite.
Colors: Red, blue, green, brown, black gray, lilac, purple, orange, orange-red, rose, almost colorless and white. Only one white Spinel has ever been found and it was lost over the course of history.
Luster: Vitreous.
Transparency: Transparent to opaque.
Fracture: Conchoidal.
Hardness: 7.5 – 8.
Structure: Isometric, octahedral, grains and massive.
System: Cubic.
Class: Hexoctahedral.
Habit: Flat triangular or octehedra plates that are caused by twinning.
Cleavage: None.
Refractive Index: High guaranteeing excellent brilliance when cut.
Inclusions: Uncommon. When they do occur they are usually angular or octahedron-shaped.

Uncut red spinel gemstone

Spinel stones are often found in metamorphic rocks especially those with contact deposits such as limestone and marble as well as rare mafic igneous rocks. It is not uncommon for them to be found with rubies. Their minute crystals often appear in swirls or planes.

The colors of the gemstones that can be found are due to trace elements of chromium, iron and cobalt that act as chromophores. The rarest gem is colorless since it forms in nature where coloring traces are not found. They are also sometimes found with negative inclusions filled with calcite, apatite, dolomite, olivine and other materials based on where they are mined.

Metaphysical Details About Spinel Stone

Spinel stone is best known for its calming effect. As a result, it is especially helpful for those that suffer from stress and anxiety. As would be expected, the healing properties it contains are directly related to the color. For example:

  • Red is believed to enhance vitality.
  • Both green and pink increase feelings of love and passion.
  • Black will help an individual change their course in life.
  • Blue is best for spiritual communication as well as when determining which friends will enhance life the most.

Spinel is called the immortality gem and is a high energy stone. It is believed to heal physical blocks while reducing inflammation and speeding recovery from disease. When worn during magic spells, it will attract wealth and abundance while enhancing physical strength and energy.

When it comes to chakras, colors also play an important role in focusing the stone’s energy. For example:

  • Red works best on the Root or Base Chakra.
  • Blue is associated with the 3rd Eye Chakra.
  • Violet is focused on the Crown Chakra.

If you know where healing and support are needed the most then picking the right color should be easier.

Examples of Famous Jewelry Containing Spinel Stone

Black Prince's Ruby is actually a spinel

Black Prince’s Ruby

One of the most famous pieces of Spinel stone is set into the crown of England’s royalty. It’s called the Black Prince’s Ruby and is estimated to be about 170 carats.

Another gem among the crown jewels is called the Timur Ruby and is estimated to be 361 carats. It’s actually owned by Queen Elizabeth. What makes it unique is the fact that the names of all the Mighal emperors that previously owned it have had their names engraved into the face of the stone. In France, the Cote de Bretagne was also at one time set into the crown of royalty.

One of the largest specimens is housed at the British Museum of National History and is a deformed red octahedron that was mined in Sri Lanka and comes in at a whopping 520 carats. Other beautiful specimens can be viewed throughout the world at museums including those in the U.S. to Russia.

Where Can We Find Spinel Stone Today?

Spinel Stone is primarily found in Sri Lanka, Afganistan and Myanmar. However, new deposits have recently been uncovered in Vietnam, Tanzania, Madagascar, Russia, Australia and Africa.

The stones are primarily mined from the hard deposits where they form. Nonetheless, it’s not uncommon to find them in alluvial and placer deposits where the eroded material in the mountains is washed downstream. In this case, the gems are smoothed by the rough-and-tumble process making them easy to find and cut. Miners in this case simply sluice material in the riverbed and pick out the gems.

Summing Spinel Stone Up

The Spinel stone is today treasured for its own beauty and is no longer considered “the great imposture”. It has a hardness and brilliance that is often associated with more valuable gems and comes in a wide array of colors to suit any taste. Although it has been under-appreciated in its own right in the past, it is now gaining popularity because of its quality, hardness, brilliance, history and metaphysical properties.

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