Spinel is a gorgeous gemstone which comes in many spectacular colours. It is said to signify optimism and revitalisation, as well as inspiring passion, devotion and longevity, and is a birthstone for August alongside peridot and sardonyx.
Spinel has a chemical formula of (Mg,Al)₂O₄ and forms in similar mineral deposits to corundum (ruby and sapphire), with the two minerals often being found together. This has historically caused some confusion, as red spinels were thought to be the same as rubies due to their rich colour. The difference between these two minerals was discovered in the eighteenth century, and the word “spinel” came to be used to describe this gemstone.
Due to their incredible colour and beauty, spinels have been highly coveted by royalty throughout history. Some of the most renown gemstones in the world are spinels, and many famous “rubies” such as the Black Prince’s Ruby and Timur ruby found in the British Crown Jewels are actually spinels.
As well as red, spinels may also be found in many shades of yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue, green, brown, and black. It has a hardness of 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it a quite durable and versatile gemstone. Although it is often overlooked in favour of ruby or sapphire, the unappreciated spinel is a stunning option for those looking for an engagement ring or dress ring with a pop of colour.