Monday, June 7, 2010

White Spinel

Gemstone:
White Spinel

Birthstone Month:
Spinel is not associated with any particular birthstone month.

Zodiac:
Spinel is not associated with any particular zodiac sign.

Chemical Symbol:
MgAl2O4

Chemical Make-up:
Spinel is a Magnesium Aluminum Oxide or Magnesium Aluminate.

History & Lore:
It is not known for certain how the name Spinel originated. The most common suggestion is that it is derived from the Latin word 'spina' meaning thorn, a reference to its fiery color and the sharp pointed crystals that are found within some Spinels. Spinels were often referred to as 'balas rubies' in ancient times. 'Balas' or 'Balascia' is a territory in Northern Afghanistan now known as Badakshan, and is where Spinels may have originally been discovered. This area was an active gem-producing region in the Middle Ages, and large beautiful red to pink Spinels that were initially thought to be Rubies were discovered there. These Spinels were also considered the best Rubies of their time!

Many royal crown jewels thought to contain rubies that have actually turned out be Spinels. The Black Prince's Ruby in the British Imperial State Crown is a actually a 170 Carat red Spinel. The Timur Ruby that has the engraved names of the Mogul emperors on its face was once thought to be a Ruby as well. This magnificent 352 Carat stone is also in fact a red Spinel, and is now owned by Queen Elizabeth of England.

The most famous of White Spinels in recorded history is the Great White Spinel of Kandy, a city in central Sri Lanka (Ceylon). It's recorded weight was 71.25 Carat, and in 1803 it was set in gold, surrounded by Rubies, and was presented by Boldoc Swamie, the King of Kandy at that time, to a Major in Her majesty's regiments. Due to misbehavior, the aforementioned Major was later court-martialled and kicked out of the army, leaving him with no income to support his wife and children. He therefore sold the Great White Spinel and it disappeared for almost a century. It reappeared again in the nineteenth century at an auction at the French Court. However, the sale did not go through and to this day this great stone has yet to have been re-discovered. In today's gem marketplace, the Great White Spinel has an estimated value in excess of US$1,000,000.

Spinels are associated with love, and help the wearer to put their ego aside, and become devoted to another person. The Spinel also encourages passion and is said to increase the duration of one's life.

Availability:
Spinel is relatively unknown to the common consumer, nor has it been marketed by any of the major gem companies. Because of its rarity, if demand was to rise sharply, demand would soon outstrip supply.

Sources:
Myanmar (Burma) supplies the finest quality Spinels. There are also known Spinel deposits in Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Italy, Madagascar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Sweden, Tajikistan (part of the former U.S.S.R), Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, and Vietnam.

Evaluation:
Spinels are rated at 8 on Moh's Scale of Hardness and are a durable stone that lacks cleavage, making it ideal for all jewelry purposes and well-suited for every day wear. Spinel can be found in an assortment of colors including red, yellow, brown, pink, rose, orange, blue, green, violet, purple, black, and white (colorless). White Spinel is extremely rare and unfortunately has developed an misunderstood reputation , which is due to synthetic White Spinels that appeared on the market years ago. These synthetic Spinels, used as a Diamond substitute, had a poor hardness and often appeared badly scratched and worn. Natural White Spinels are in fact beautiful and durable gemstones.

Top quality stones should be deep and rich in color, eye-clean, and without any traces of secondary brown colors. Spinels are a favorite of gem connoisseurs and gem collectors due to their brilliance, hardness, and wide range of beautiful colors. Although Spinel gemstones are a rarity, Spinel makes a beautiful stone for almost any jewelry purpose.

Common Cuts:
Spinel is a durable stone that lacks cleavage and for this reason it is suitable for all jewelry purposes. It is most often found in oval, round, and cushion cuts and owing to its rarity cannot currently be found in calibrated sizes.

Routine Enhancements:
White Spinels have often been synthetically produced for low-quality jewelry purposes and as a Diamond substitute.

Care & Cleaning:
Spinel is a very durable stone that lacks cleavage making it difficult to chip and scratch. Steam and ultrasonic cleaners are generally considered safe, but they should be used with caution. Avoid household chemicals and prolonged exposure to excessive heat, as this can permanently alter coloration or damage the stone. Spinel can also be cleaned in warm soapy water with a soft brush to remove lingering grease and dirt. Always store your Spinel jewelry in a fabric-lined box away from other jewelry items so as to avoid damage / scratching.

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