The Rich Ruby Imposter

Spinel is a gem that has been masked as ruby for centuries and sold in Europe’s crown jewels. However, after indepth investigation, it was found that spinel actually differs from ruby in that it has the octahedral crystal structure and single refraction.

Spinel Rough

The name of this gem comes from the Latin word “spina” which means thorn, and refers to the pointed crystal form. However, there are some theories that it got the name from the Greek word “spark” which refers to its bright color.

Spinel In Different Cuts, Shapes And Colors

The most desirable spinel gems have a ruby-like red color, followed by cobalt blue spinels, as well as bright pink and bright orange. There are paler color variations such as lavender which are generally more affordable. In the palette of colors, there are also black, grayish, mauve, yellow, brown, violet-blue and greenish-blue variations.


Spinel can be seen in many different forms and shapes ranging from octagons to trillions, squares, rounds and fancy shapes such as ovals, pears and cushions. The colored spinel gemstones are rare in sizes over 5 carats and often cut in cabochon to display their asterism.


Even though spinel is not usually treated, there is the synthetic spinel which is a common type used as an alternative. Due to its iron content, the use of a magnet can separate natural spinel from other synthetic and fake variations.

Spinel is a stone that is popular because of its calming energy. Because of this, it is recommended for people who are suffering from stress and anxiety. Some people believe that the gem can also encourage renewal and healing.


The most significant deposits of spinel have been found in Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand. There are other locations wherein the gem is found: Brazil, Madagascar, Nepal, Nigeria, Tanzania, USA, Afghanistan and Australia.