What are spinel gems?


Quick Answer

Spinel gems are brightly colored gemstones that are often mistaken for rubies or sapphires, according to Geology.com. Spinel gems appear as crystals in limestone, as grains in igneous rock and as pebbles in alluvial deposits.

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Full Answer

Spinel gems are valued for their brilliance, hardness and variety of colors, notes Gemstone.org. Many famous rubies in crown jewel collections are actually spinels, including the Black Prince’s ruby that adorns the Imperial State Crown of England in the British Crown Jewels.

Spinel gems have a similar appearance to, but a different chemical composition than, rubies and sapphires, states Geology.com. Most ruby red spinels are mined in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

A French chemist produced the first synthetic spinel in 1847. Along with its use as a gemstone, synthetic spinel is used as a heat-resistant coating on metal tools, bricks and ceramics.

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