June 13, 2020

Red Spinel Gemstones

Red spinels are the most desired type of spinel gemstones of most gem lovers. Its beauty and close resemblance to Ruby are the main reasons for that. To give you an example of how closely god red spinels resemble Rubies, the world famous  “Black Prince’s Ruby” on the English Imperial State Crown ( Image 1.1 ) was later discovered to be a Spinel, not a Ruby. That’s funny eh?

Therefore Red spinels and Red spinel jewelry are very elegant indeed and loved by many gem and jewelry lovers and collectors.

Color variations

Red spinals do come in few Red variations.  The deep red spinals are the most popular and hence most expensive. There are also lighter red spinals often referred to as pink spinals which are less expensive than the deep red spinals.

Synthetic Spinels

However, as for many other gemstones, synthetic versions are also available for spinels. For an untrained eye, synthetic spinels can be difficult to identify. (Therefore please read our ( Steps to follow when buying a gemstone or a gemstone jewelry ) article before making your purchase as this will help you in not getting caught in to a synthetic spinel. )

But, there are a couple of basic things you can do to do a basic testing to see whether a spinal is natural or synthetic.  Unfortunately, the  basic tactic doesn’t work for red spinals hence a more technical testing will require to decide whether the spinal is natural or synthetic. Having said that, if you find a remarkably cheap red spinal, always be suspicious.

But the good news is that, not many dark red synthetic spinals are made apparently as most dark red synthetic stones are sold as natural Ruby.  ( But don’t take this for granted)

Anyway, please also note that basic tests described below are not 100% all the time hence a lab testing will require to tell for certain whether a spinal is synthetic or not.

Basic Methods

Magnetic Properties ( Again, not for red spinals – This works blue spinals)

A natural blue spinel has iron content. Hence they show weak to moderate response to magnets. Synthetic spinels do not show any response to magnets as they do not contain iron.

Lab Tests

Microscopic Evidence

Refractive Index and Specific Gravity

Fluorescence under UV rays

Scientific Details

Chemical Formula MgAl2O4
Color White, Colorless, Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, Orange, Brown, Pink, Purple, Black
Hardness 7.5 – 8
Crystal System Isometric
Refractive Index 1.712 – 1.736
SG 3.5 – 3.7
Transparency Transparent to translucent
Double Refraction None
Luster Vitreous
Cleavage None, but may exhibit slight parting
Mineral Class Spinel

As all our articles, the first section will give the basic introduction to Red Spinels for those are are interested in learning the things important when looking to buy a good Red Spinel and the latter part of the article includes more in-depth technical details which will be highly useful for anyone who wants to study more about Red Spinels.

How to select a good Red Spinel?

Before looking to buy any gemstone, decide on your budget and do a broad price search for the specific gemstone type you are looking for. The same method applies for Red Spinels as well. www.etsy.com could be a great starting point to start getting an idea about the prices.  You can also google and find prices offered by many gemstone sellers around the world.

However, you will notice that the prices varies in a considerably wide range. Price of any gemstone vary mainly based on the color, carat weight, shape ( cut ) and visible inclusions and damages if any.

You will find that there is a significant color range even in the “Red” spinel category. After you browse through many stones available, you will get a basic idea of what color tone is most expansive and what tone is relatively cheaper. The bright red color which is very close to Ruby as in the case of the “Black Prince Ruby” discussed earlier is the most expensive type of Red Spinels.

After getting a basic idea about the price range of red spinels, you will know what sort of a stone in terms of size and exact color you will be able to accommodate within your budget. But however, don’t be afraid to look for a little too expensive stone as most sellers are open to negotiate their prices.

The main challenges when buying gemstones online are

  1. 1. The color could be misleading in some photos
  2. 2. The damages and inclusions are not visible in images in most cases
  3. 3. Some sellers could be selling synthetic stones

But however, there are ways you can overcome these challenges. Let’s go one by one.

Color of stones

After selecting a particular stone, if you are not satisfied with the pictures of the stone, ask the vendor to send more pictures or even a video will be great. If the available picture are taken in a studio, ask the seller to send pictures or a video taken in the day light.  Some sellers will send you these pictures and videos and some will not.

Checking inclusions and minor damages

We are talking here about the inclusions and damages which occurs inside the stone. Some stones will have minor damages which is visible from outside for the naked eye as well but a good seller will always mention if there are any.

But for you to be safe, always ask for all the inclusions and damages in the stone from the seller as those will not be visible in picture in 99.9% of the time. A good seller will always tell you the exact details.

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