Although found in a variety of colours, it is for the deep red variety that Spinel is most famed. Deep red Spinel so closely resembles Ruby that, until the 19th Century when it became possible to tell them apart by their optical properties and hardness, the two gemstones were practically indistinguishable. Indeed, many famous Rubies were subsequently found to be Spinel, including the centrepiece Ruby of the royal crown of England (known as the Black Prince's Ruby).
Fine Spinels are now more rare than Rubies but, somewhat paradoxically, they are more affordable - in the gem world, it is not always to a gemstone’s advantage to be too rare, as this more often than not means it is relatively unknown. In addition to its wide range of colours, Spinel is prized for its brilliance, hardness and durability.
Sources: Key sources of Rubelite are Myanmar, Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Vietnam, Tanzania, Russia, Canada and the USA.
Similar gemstones: Red Spinel can be identical in appearance to Ruby but is a lighter colour, with the deep-red Spinel more of a brick-red then the red of Ruby, which has a slight blue or purple tinge to it. Red Spinel also bears a close resemblance to red Tourmaline, while dark red Spinel resembles Garnet.
Zircon, Topaz, and Sapphire can all be mistaken for Blue Spinel. Pink Spinel resembles Morganite, pink Topaz, and pink Tourmaline. Purple Spinel appears similar to Amethyst but usually has a bluer tone.
Colour palette: While the rarest and most desirable Spinel gemstones are a vivid, rich ruby red, Spinel is also found in a range of pastel pinks and purples, with the recently discovered neon pink-reds from Tanzania now among the most valuable of all coloured gems. A vivid, hot pink Spinel, with a tinge of orange, is mined in Myanmar.
Spinels in cobalt blue, bright pink and bright orange are also highly sought-after, while paler colours, such as lavender, tend to be more affordable. Other popular colours are black, violet-blue, greenish-blue, grey, mauve, yellow and brown. Spinels are rarely white or colourless.
Almandine Spinel has a violet to violet-blue color.
Balas Spinel has a pink to pale red colour and is also known as the Balas Ruby.
Blue Spinel is a light to dark blue variety of Spinel.
Flame Spinel is a bright-orange to orange-red spinel, also known as Rubicelle.
Hercynite is a dark-green to black spinel.
Gahnite is a blue, violet or dark-green to blackish Spinel, also known as Zinc Spinel.
Gahnospinel is a material that is between Spinel and gahnite and displays a blue to dark-blue or green colour.
Picotite is a brownish, dark-green or blackish Spinel, also known as Chrome Spinel.
Ruby Spinel is the name for the ruby-red variety of Spinel.
More information about Spinel: Spinel is not a designed birthstone, but Green Spinel is an alternative 9th Wedding Anniversary gemstone and Red Spinel an alternative 16th Wedding Anniversary gemstone. Meanwhile, Spinel is the 22nd Wedding Anniversary gemstone and B;ue Spinel the 65th Wedding Anniversary gemstone.
Spinel is thought to protect the owner from harm, to reconcile differences and to soothe away sadness.