According to Geology.com, spinel means 3 things in geology and gemology:
- Spinel the mineral - A magnesium aluminum oxide mineral (MgAl2O4) with an isometric crystal structure (displaying a cubic shape).
- Gemstone - Spinel is also a prized gem; a birthstone for the month of August and the stone of the Virgo season.
- Mineral group - The collective name for a group of metal oxide minerals having a common crystal structure.
Spinel the gemstone is one of the most spectacular stones due to its excellent luster, hardness, and durability. Pure spinel is colourless. However, it is usually included with various minerals like chromium, cobalt, and iron resulting in a wide spectrum of spinel varieties.
The Physical Properties of Spinel
Spinel occurs in many colours (ranging from rich, dark colours to very light pastels): red, pink, blue, violet, purple, yellow, green, black, and gray. The most popular ones are red and blue spinels which are often mistaken as ruby and sapphire. These colours are produced by chromium, cobalt, and iron impurities in the stone.
In terms of hardness, spinel is rated 8 on the Mohs scale. Due to its outstanding toughness, all cleaning techniques for gemstones are safe for spinel. It's important to store this hard stone separately from your softer gems to prevent the latter from scratching and damage. Spinel is widely used as a jewellery material and as a durable substitute for glass.
The History of Spinel
It is believed that the name spinel was derived from the Greek word spitha which means spark or spinthir meaning sparkly. It forms as cubic, granular, massive, or compact crystals in igneous and metamorphic rocks such as marble, gneiss, and serpentine.
Spinel was often mistaken for corundum because of its brilliant orange-red colour. In 1783, French mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle made the distinction between rubies and spinels.
It was then that stones assumed to be rubies were identified as spinel gems, like the famous Black Prince's Ruby and the Timur Ruby owned by Queen Elizabeth II.
Some historical accounts state that as far back as the 1500s, gem traders in Myanmar were the first to tell spinels apart from rubies based on their diagnostic and optical properties.
There are several spinel deposits all over the world. But historically, Southeast Asia used to be the richest source of spinel. Today, spinel is found in Afghanistan, Brazil, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka.
The Lore of Spinel
Since ancient times, spinel is considered a stone of abundance. Kings and emperors used the stone to attract wealth and opportunities. Wearing a spinel stone was thought to boost stamina and overall physical health.
The Metaphysical Properties of Spinel
As a stone of vigor, spinel can energize all of the 7 chakras. It replenishes your enthusiasm, motivation, and physical energy when you're experiencing burnout or fatigue. Spinel assists the mind and body in recovering from trauma and illnesses.
When you're feeling down and lacking inspiration, this stone can help restore your hope. Spinel is useful in breaking negative thought patterns and unlocking positive mindsets. It provides you with a new perspective and an optimistic view of life and living in general.
It also relieves stress and anxiety. Holding, wearing, and meditating with spinel calms and relaxes the mind. Others use spinel to induce a restful sleep.
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Spinel Value, Price, and Jewelry Information. International Gem Society. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/spinel-jewelry-and-gemstone-information/
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