Spinel Meaning and Properties

Spinel History

It wasn't long ago that spinel was thought to be a ruby due to its lustrous orange-red color. Mineralogist Jean Baptiste Louis Rome de Lisle was able to identify differences though between rubies and spinel minerals in 1783. Multiple stones previously assumed to be rubies are now able to be identified as spinel. There are two spinel gems, in fact, in the English crown jewels. Although spinel appears in a variety of colors such as pink, blue, purple and black, the brilliant reds are most popular and are sometimes referred to as "flame spinel." Spinel deposits occur all over the world, but Southeast Asia was known in ancient times for exceptionally large spinel formations. Spinel has been added as an alternative August birthstone in recent years.

Spinel Metaphysical Properties

Diamonds are the gemstone most people associate first with love, but perhaps red spinel should be. Spinel gems are said to help set aside egos and become devoted to another person. Like most fiery red stones, spinel is believed to encourage great passion, devotion and longevity. Spinel is associated with the root Chakra, making it effective in increasing physical energy and stamina. It seems spinel also has an effect on mental stamina as it is said to reduce forgetfulness and boost intellectual power.

Spinel Geological Properties

Spinel minerals are a magnesium aluminum oxide with varying other impurities that affect color. The presence of chromium results in red, pink and orange spinel. Spinel gemstones have isometric crystal systems. This gem is famous for spinel twinning, where two octahedral crystals twin together at the base. Spinel gemstones range in opacity from transparent to opaque and the luster can be vitreous, submetallic or dull.

Mineral Information Magnesium aluminum oxide
Chemical Composition Mg(Al2O4)
Color Orange-red
Hardness 8 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 3.58 - 3.61
Refractive Index 1.712 - 1.736

Proper Care of Spinel

Spinel is a hardy stone with a Mohs hardness of 8. There are multiple gemstone cleaning techniques that are safe for spinel. Steam cleaners and ultrasonic machines are both safe methods. Typically, however, an untreated soft cloth and soapy water will be enough. It is not recommended to boil spinel as a cleaning method. Since spinel has a higher Mohs, store this gemstone away from other softer gems so as not to mar the surface of those gemstones.

To learn more about spinel and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with Spinel

Since spinel occurs in multiple colors, this gemstone is a versatile addition to jewelry designs. Black spinel provides sophistication alongside pearls or clear gemstones such as quartz crystal. Fiery-red spinel stands out against black gemstones such as jet and silver beads. Red spinel can be used to create Christmas jewelry when paired with green gems such as emerald. Turquoise is a great pairing as well, still playing on the contrasting color scheme without looking too much like a holiday design.

View design inspirations featuring spinel in the Gallery of Designs.

Shop for Spinel Items

**Please note that all metaphysical or healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® does not guarantee the validity of any of these statements.

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