Watch Out Peridot – August Has a New Birthstone!

If you’ve followed our birthstone blog series or read any of our gemstone spotlights, you’ll know that we love reporting on all the dazzling and little-known facts about all of our favorite stones. August, which formerly could only claim peridot (and the lesser known sardonyx) as it’s birthstone, now has three stones to call its’ own! June, October, November, and December all boast more than one stone as a traditional birthstone, as well. In addition to peridot, those born in August can now sport lovely spinel as their birthstone.

History

Spinel has been confused with ruby for many years, even in Europe’s crown jewels. You may have heard of the famed “Black Prince’s Ruby” – worn by royals since the 14th century. This stone is not a ruby at all, but a 170 carat spinel polished into an irregular cabochon. Other famous spinels include the nearly 400 carat spinel atop the Russian Imperial Crown, and the Samarian Spinel, which is an astonishing 500 carats and thought to be the largest gem-quality spinel in the world. It belongs to the Iranian Crown Jewels.

The Black Prince's Ruby
The Black Prince’s Ruby – one of the world’s most famous spinels, at the forefront of George V’s Imperial State Crown. It has since been remade into the modern, lighter crown.

Colors and Physical Properties

As you would expect from the great ruby impostor, the most prized color for spinel is red. A quality it shares with true rubies, spinel takes its vibrant red color from chromium. It is also available in blue, pink, and orange, as well as lavender and violet ranging through to bluish-green. It is even found in brown and black. The variety of colors has contributed to its recent popularity, putting it in the same category as sapphires and garnets – two other popular stones known for their dazzling array of colors.

Spinel Color Variations
Some of the colors in which spinel is available. Ruby red (top right) is the most prized color, and purple is typically the most affordable. (Photo from gemselect.org)

Spinel is mined in Burma, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, parts of the US, Australia, and Tadzhikistan to name a few areas. It is actually rarer (and more affordable) than many rubies! Pieces larger than 5 carats, however, are considered quite rare – especially in ruby red and cobalt blue (which resembles the most prized shade of sapphire). These are the two most popular colors. Spinel is often imitated due to its’ resemblance to many other stones. True spinel contains iron, which makes it slightly magnetic. This separates it from the synthetic stones, although all reputable jewelry dealers should label their products clearly as natural or synthetic. Spinel also differs from rubies and sapphires in that it doesn’t rank quite as high on the Mohs hardness scale. However, it does still claim an 8, which makes it good for most jewelry applications.


Metaphysical Properties

Spinel is said to contain many metaphysical properties, which vary depending on the color of the stone in question. Overall it is said to be a calming stone and is recommended to those suffering from stress. When broken down by color, red spinel is said to enhance vitality, while green and pink incite compassion and love. Yellow has ties to intellect, while violet has associations in spiritual development.

Black spinel and diamond ring
Black spinel is often paired with white or colorless gemstones, which makes a stunning contrast. This ring features black spinel and diamonds in Sterling silver. $595.95

Click to view more spinel jewelry available from Pearls International Jewelers. If you would like a spinel for a custom jewelry piece, or would like to get more information about ordering the ring pictured above or any of the finished jewelry pieces from our Showcase, please contact us! (You can use the form below, or call at at 386.767.3473.)

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Sources:

Southern Jewelry News
GIA.edu
Gemselect.org

 

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