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The Spinel Gemstone

Over the years, the spinel gemstone has been mistaken for other gems, meaning that this unusual stone has often been overlooked. Today, however, we recognise the spinel as the birthstone for August and also use it to celebrate a 22nd wedding anniversary. In addition, many of our most treasured, historic jewellery pieces are now believed to be made from spinel, despite being mistaken for other gemstones over the years.

What is spinel?

Spinel is a gemstone that can be found in a wide variety of colours. The most famous variation of (known as ruby spinel) comes in a deep red hue, that closely resembles the colour of rubies – hence why the two stones have often been confused throughout history.

History of Spinel

Other colourful varieties of spinel include:

  • Almandine Spinel: this variation of the gemstone is violet-blue in colour.
  • Balas Ruby: consisting of pale red and pink hues.
  • Blue Spinel: another blue-toned variety of spinel, this type can vary from light to dark blue.
  • Flame Spinel: as its title suggests, this variation comes in fiery tones of orange and red.
  • Gahnospinel: this variation is rich in zinc, which causes its dark green to greenish-black colourings.
  • Picotite: a brown-toned type of spinel.
  • Pleonast: this variation is opaque with dark blue, green, and black colourings.
  • Rubicelle: a yellow to orange type of spinel.


Spinel, in its many varieties, can be found in locations all around the globe. Major sources of spinel include Tajikistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Tanzania and Pakistan. Different coloured gems are mined in different places. Myanmar, for example, is famous for its hot pink and red spinel deposits.

The History of Spinel

The name spinel originates from the Latin, "spina", meaning "thorn". This is thought to be in reference to the spiky shape of spinel crystals.

Throughout time, it has often been mistaken for other gemstones, resulting in the fact that spinel is relatively unknown in comparison to more famous gemstones such as ruby. It wasn't until the 18th century that spinel was distinctly separated from ruby due to the differences in their chemical makeup. In fact, many pieces of ruby jewellery throughout time have later turned out to be spinel. For example, the Black Prince's "Ruby" that is set in the centre of the royal crown of England was actually determined to be spinel.

The English royal crown isn't the only piece of royal jewellery that features spinel. The Royal Crown Jewels of Iran features the largest known collection of spinel gemstones, including a 500-carat gem. A 412.25 carat dark red spinel gemstone also ornaments to Great Imperial Crown in Moscow, commissioned in celebration of the coronation of Catherine the Great.

In jewellery making, the spinel gemstone saw its rise to greatness during the Renaissance period and continued its popularity into the 18th century.

The Meaning of Spinel

There are many beliefs and traditions surrounding the august birthstone. Traditionally chosen for August birthday gifts or used to commemorate a 22nd wedding anniversary, spinel jewellery makes a meaningful and beautiful gift.

Traditionally, spinel has been associated with the promotion of harmony. It is thought that wearing this gemstone will help to diminish anger and other negative emotions. Throughout time, some have also believed that spinel can help to remedy blood loss and aid in the curing of blood-related diseases.

In addition to this, spinel is thought to reduce personal egos and give the wearer an appreciation of others. It is thought to symbolise devotion and encourage great passion – as is the case with most fiery-red gemstones. Devotion and loyalty are also traits related to spinel. Because of these meanings, a piece of spinel jewellery would make a wonderful gift for anyone you are close to, or who you want to express your devotion and adoration of.

As well as spinel, peridot is also a birthstone for August, so for those born in the height of summer, the choice is yours. Here at AC Silver, we have a great variety of both peridot and spinel birthstone gifts within our complete range of vintage and antique jewellery pieces. Browse our online store today to find the perfect gift for your other half or a wonderful addition to your own jewellery box.

Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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