The word spinel is derived from the Italian ‘spinello’ meaning ‘joint’ or ‘spina’ meaning ‘thorn’. This it thought to be a reference to the stones rough shape – which in its perfect form is a sharp-edged octahedron.
The gemstone is sometimes known as ‘Balas Ruby’ and is frequently confused with the gemstone ruby. The Black Prince ruby - given to Edward, the Black Prince in 1366 by the Spanish King is a 170 carat spinel. The stone is set in the British State Crown and was believed to be a ruby until scientists discovered it was a spinel in the 19th Century.
Spinel is believed to have been mined since around 100BC and is linked with the power of resurrection and the beauty of life.
The largest known spinel in the world is the Samarian spinel, it is a 500 carat stone, once said to adorn the neck of a biblical golden cow, now it is part of the Iranian Crown Jewels.
Where is spinel mined?
Currently spinel is being mined in Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Vietnam and Tajikistan.
Spinel is 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale.
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown, black.