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Spinel Gems vs Other Gems

You’ve probably met a customer in your shop who on a budget, but looking for jewelry of a certain color. However, colors tend to be exclusively associated with specific types of gems (especially in the mind of the consumer). Emeralds are green, rubies are red, sapphires are blue, etc. But while these gems are spectacularly colored, they can easily break a budget. Luckily, gems under the spinel group can match most of the aesthetic qualities of more expensive gems for a lower cost.

Spinel gems have an interesting history behind them. Before the 18th century, transparent red spinels were thought to be rubies, until modern science was able to differentiate between the two. In fact, many world-famous “rubies” are actually spinels. The Black Prince’s Ruby is set above the Cullinan II (a 317.4 carat diamond cut from the Cullinan – the second largest diamond ever discovered) in the Imperial State Crown as part of the British Crown Jewels. Also part of the Crown Jewels is the Timur Ruby – a 361 carat spinel.

Spinels also have desirable properties in jewelry design. They are durable gemstones that are difficult to chip and scratch. Their colors occur naturally, so no special treatments are needed. Plus, since they are singly refractive, they have a characteristic “fire” similar to diamonds. If you have a customer looking for something affordable, durable, and with nice color – a piece incorporating spinels might be the answer.

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