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I was originally going to do this post last night to meet my monthly requirement for these gemstone posts, but my post-Epidemiology homework brain was not exactly walking straight lines or forming coherent sentences at the time, and definitely shouldn’t have been operating a Qwerty keyboard. Please pretend this post happened while it was still May. Without further ado, I present spinel.

Pink spinelSpinel from Tanzania. Image by and item sold through Palagems.com

I had been in the mood to cover a pink gem following Mother’s Day, and in scanning the web I realized I had written about a good many of them already (rhodocrosite, topaz, garnet, tourmaline, and sapphire). I found spinel still in her corner, as always, waiting for her chance to shine.

Spinels have an interesting history, mainly because they have received bad publicity over the centuries as imitations of rubies and sapphires, partially because the stones are commonly found together in deposits, and because lab-created spinels used to be common. They even resided misnamed in the crowns of royalty, despite their inherent beauty, durability, and luster. One famous spinel is the Royal Spinel, or “Talisman of the Throne,” an enormous 239 carat gem that is almost 5cm tall. It was held by Persian emperors for centuries before being given as a gift to a Mughal emperor in 1621. It ultimately became inscribed with the names of six Indian and Persian rulers.

The Royal Spinel inscribed with the names of kingsRoyal Spinel. Image from The al-Sabah Collection, Dar al-Athar al-Islamiyyah, Kuwait.

Spinels are now are even rarer than the stones they once portrayed, and are seldom given the artificial treatments many rubies and sapphires receive to enhance their color. At around 8 on the Mohs scale, spinels are great all-purpose stones for jewelry. They are a naturally colorless magnesium aluminum oxide (MgAl2O4), but take on their vibrant reds, pinks, purples, blues, and even black based on the trace elements nearby. Spinels are currently mined in places like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Vietnam.

I switched to using black spinels in my crow rings after I had trouble finding melanite garnets, and even as two opaque black stones, I can tell a difference between the glassy garnet and the more solid spinel, which I now prefer. While I have found metaphysical traits are usually assigned to gemstone colors, I found some consensus that the multicolored group of spinels are supposed to alleviate stress, give one energy to get tasks done, and make their bearer less forgetful.