Triangular Natural Spinel Gemstone

What Are the Different Colors of Natural Spinel Gemstones?

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The world of gemstones is certainly a stage on which there are a lot of actors, with stories that are full stage plays in themselves. From being the centerpieces of amorous alliances among the upper echelons, elite and royalty (cue Princess Diana’s convention-defining engagement ring), to featuring in battles that have defined civilisations for millennia and shaped the world as we know it (cue the Black Prince’s Ruby - an interesting insertion at this stage for those who know the story, which we will cover in a second) to achieving legendary status in the world of jewelry for reasons as interesting as camouflage and shameless mimicry (again, a point which we will get to in a second), there’s no shortage of intrigue to cover when it comes to Natural Spinel Gemstones. It is in this tempestuous, ever-changing, dynamic environment in which one stone stands out as a remarkable character with quite the story to tell - the scintillating spinel.

This gemstone, legendarily known as “the Impostor Stone”, has enjoyed the spotlight for centuries, posing as other gemstones and getting away with it for several lifetimes. Red Spinel, for example, has successfully fooled many, from common men to royalty, posing as rubies (also called balas rubies for that reason), and have earned their place in the world of gemstones with their success story capturable in this infamous line: Fake it till you make it. Up until quite recently, many spinels passed as other precious stones, a famous example being the Black Prince’s Ruby, which survived a crucial, nation-defining battle for the English, reportedly taking a hit for the English prince who wore it as the centerpiece of his crown, saving his life. It was only discovered to be a spinel, eons after the one after which it was named had long since passed, and remains a treasured heirloom of the British Imperial Crown Jewels till this day. Spinels can be found in royal collections across the world, including the Austrian Crown Jewels, a nod to their position of prestige and lore in the world of gemstones. As previously stated, this notable gemstone has quite the story to tell, and this is just one of many.

Oval Purple Natural Spinel Gemstone

In this guide, we are going to delve into the various color varieties of this incredible gemstone. Understanding these varieties is crucial, for it offers insightful perspectives on the versatility of this gemstone titan, oft ignored by many jewelry enthusiasts, despite its incredible potential for truly stunning jewelry for your heirloom gemstone/jewelry collection. We aim to explore the massive vista of colors, symbolism and many other facets of this very unique gemstone with a storied history to open your eyes to the cornucopia of possibilities when it comes to bespoke jewelry – raison d’être over here at Saratti. Armed with this knowledge, your presence is sure to be the center of attention at any event, with your very own unique style on display with your very special creations wherever you go – and we all know that in today’s age, ATTENTION IS CURRENCY!

It sure is going to be an exciting ride and we’re glad to take you on this sparkly journey! Strap in your saddle and get ready for this wonderful excursion into the sublime world of the one and only, undisputed champion of gemstone mimicry, the one and only, certified scintillating impostor gemstone – the Spinel.

Spinel Color Range, Zoning & Properties


Considered “polished by the spirits” in Burma, this gemstone is sought after by gem collectors and connoisseurs because of its versatility and other desirable properties. When it comes to value, the higher the carat weight, the higher price and the greater the rarity – especially for those really fine pink, red and blue beauties. Cushion cut and ovals tend to the shapes, with saving as much of the gem the primary concern when it comes to cutting. The really sought after colors include red, pink, blue and purple, mauve/lilac, but the range is truly expansive, including black, brown and green spinel with the others, including deep purple, lavender being on the lower scale in rarity and price. Treatment also affects value, with untreated-top quality ones commanding premium prices, with those with a more even color zoning occupying premier place in the quality hierarchy for spinel.

Cushion Cut Natural Spinel Gemstone

Spinels are fantastic for everyday jewelry, scoring a decent 8 on the Mohs scale, and a refractive index of 8. The Mohs Scale is used to categorize the hardness of various substances, including gemstones. That durability qualifying them for everyday wear, combined with their beauty and rarity of some of the more stunning varieties, make them a gemstone that holds its own in a world of titans, punching far above its weight compared to other lesser-known gemstones, fantastic for all kinds of jewelry; bracelets, rings, necklaces, brooches, earrings and more. They require decent care to ensure their beauty as opposed to others (like opals) that require more delicate handling to last a lifetime.

Fun fact: Spinels also herald the foundation of the field of gemology. According to the Gemological Institute of America, “Distinguishing spinel from ruby gave birth to the science of gemology.”

When it comes to exploring their versatility for bespoke jewelry, here’s a pro-tip people often miss: most of the time, the problem with making a birthstone gift for someone is that they are born in that month, but do not like the color of the birthstone for the month. The person might be an August born, but have a color preference for black gemstones. In this case, Spinels are fantastic because you can actually get the black variety, getting the birthstone with the perfect color for that special person.

Another issue that people tend to run into is that sometimes people’s color preferences lead to gemstones that may not be within the budgetary range for the period. Alternatives like spinel with massive variety when it comes to color save the day all the time, providing the full range of color, with a budget-friendly touch and the storied history and lore to match – the perfect solution!

Pinkish Red Cushion Natural Spinel Gemstone

Red Spinel

Red Spinel is one of the quintessential symbols of vitality, passion and energy. It is easily the most popular type of spinel. For that reason, it is a prime candidate for unique, one-of-a-kind wedding/engagement/love-themed jewelry. It is the perfect alternative for rubies, having cosplayed as the red gem king across the ages, and can be an affordable alternative to the ruby.

Its shades range from vivid crimson to burgundy, with various tones accompanying: orange, pure red, pinkish red and others. This offers much versatility in design, even among in this category of spinel. It goes without saying that red spinel is one the gemstone world’s best kept open secret. Mines in Afghanistan, Vietnam, Madagascar, Tanzania, Sri Lanka and Myanmar produce great to incredible quality red spinel.

Cushion Cut Purple Blue Natural Spinel

Blue Spinel

Associated with tranquillity, calmness and serenity, the azure wonder’s most spectacular varieties tend to come from mines in places like Afghanistan, Myanmar and Tanzania - sometimes from others like Tajikistan and Vietnam - being less common, compared to red spinel, with heirloom-grade blues being incredibly rare, thus commanding premier prices. They are a sublime alternative for another corundum titan, the blue sapphire (also wearing that cap for ages as an impostor), and for others like topaz and aquamarine.  Their shades range from light sky blue to deep navy blue with grayish, greenish and violet undertones providing an expanded color palette for very distinct, distinguished one-of-a-kind gemstones and jewelry, especially bespoke.

Oval Purple Pink Natural Spinel

Pink Spinel

The immediate sibling of red spinel, this variety communicates delicate love, grace, femininity, romance and affection; often associated with compassion, tenderness and emotional healing. It can also be used to communicate or convey feelings of warmth, gratitude and friendship. Mostly found in the same locations as red spinels, this gorgeous stunner has been mistaken for and has rightly earned its place as the primary or preferred alternative to pink sapphires and fancy pink diamonds – even more so as it offers the wonder of the color with budget-friendliness in its wake. From delicate light  to pastel and hot passion pink, with peachy, purple and orange undertones further diversifying the color palette, it makes for truly stunning collection features and bespoke jewelry, especially for August borns.

Bluish Purple Round Natural Spinel

Purple Spinel

For chic that bespeaks royalty, luxury & mystique, look no further than purple sapphires. Despite not having the weight of prestige that the earlier-discussed spinel varieties command, it holds its weight decently when it comes to colorful splendor. With bluish, grayish and reddish undertones elevating the possibilities and the accompanying budget-friendliness this gemstone comes with, this stunning gemstone makes the world your oyster, particularly if the color is your preferred choice. A sublime alternative for amethyst, and purple sapphire offering comparable durability and affordability, this gemstone’s lighter shaded cousin – lilac spinels (with their light, pale purple color), are reportedly in high demand according to the GIA, ranking among red, blue and pink as the most sought-after varieties.

 

Orange & Yellow Spinel

Orange & Yellow Spinel

Associated with enthusiasm, creativity and optimism, and symbolizing warmth, youth, vitality and joy, Orange and Yellow Spinel, these golden toned beauties are perfect, affordable alternatives to fire opals (which do not have the Spinel’s durability), yellow/orange sapphires, champagne-colored diamonds, imperial topaz and spessartite garnets. With hues ranging from soft peach to vibrant tangerine, and yellows ranging from pale lemon to deep golden, this is one perfect candidate for sunshine-themed jewelry.

In addition to these colors, brown, black and green spinels feature as prime alternatives for gemstones like emeralds and tsavorite (on the green scene) and onyx, black opals and black diamonds on the dark side, with the brown varieties being the alternative for champagne-colored diamonds.  

With their storied history and lore in the world of gemstones, it’s not surprising to see these heralded treasures make their impact in the world of high fashion and jewelry. If anyone ever doubted the veracity of “fake it till you make it”, the spinel’s story would be the ultimate rebuttal. 

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