Spinel (pronounced spin-elle) gemstones enjoy a long and storied history. Some of the most famous historical gems that were originally thought to be rubies turned out to be spinel – most notably being Black Prince’s Ruby, a centerpiece of the British Imperial State Crown, which was only recently confirmed to be a spinel. Spinels tend to be more reflective and glittering than rubies because of their different optical characteristics. Similar to rubies and sapphires, they can be found in a wide assortment of colors.

Spinel was made the birthstone for August in 2016 and is sometimes used to commemorate a 22nd wedding anniversary.


Colors range from orange to intense red or pink, and all shades between purple, blue and violet to bluish green. The most valued colors are bright red, cobalt blue and vivid pink and orange, while pale lavender spinels are the more affordable option. Deep red spinels make perfect alternatives to rarer rubies.


Spinel is cut and faceted in many shapes and sizes, most often cut in cushion and oval shapes.


Spinel is a mineral that comes from Afghanistan, Brazil, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Kenya, Russia, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam.


Spinel is a durable gemstone with a hardness of 8.0 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.


Spinels are not generally treated. Experimentally, however, some have been heat treated and infrequent surface-reaching fractures are treated with oils or polymers. Information about any stone known to be treated should be disclosed to the buyer.


Spinel can be manufactured in a lab rather than mined. This information needs to be clearly disclosed to the buyer.

Care & Cleaning

  • To minimize scratching and wear, store each piece of fine jewelry separately in a soft cloth or padded container.
  • Avoid exposure to intense heat as light-colored stones may fade.
  • Spinel jewelry is best cleaned with warm, sudsy water and a tightly woven microfiber or other soft cloth.
  • Take all your fine jewelry to a professional jeweler at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning and inspection.

Find Spinel pieces at a trustworthy, JA Member Jewelry store in our Find a Jeweler directory.

Content © GIA. Image © Robert Weldon/GIA

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