If you’re not familiar with the spinel, a versatile gemstone that comes in all sorts of wonderful colours, it’s time to become acquainted. Known as “The Great Imposter”, the spinel is frequently mistaken for a ruby or sapphire. With its vivid, saturated hue and crystal-clear transparency, it’s a clean, bright gemstone with the durability to last a lifetime. And best of all? The spinel is much more affordable than either a ruby or a sapphire.
Sophie has been using spinels in her One-Of-A-Kind and bespoke designs for years and is delighted that more clients are waking up to their desirability.
“I love how varied they are,” she says. “I can create so many different styles and looks from a single gemstone.”
Soft grey-blue spinels: an SB classic
Some spinels are statement gems - red and hot pink varieties make great centre stones in a cocktail ring - while others are more neutral, particularly those at the blue end of the spectrum.
Sophie has a real soft spot for grey and grey-blue spinels. Modern and eye-catching, “their muted tones feel very modern and wearable,” she says.
“When I’m educating clients on the beauty of spinels, I always say there really is no downside to them,” Sophie continues. “With a high refractive index that gives them lots of fire and a bright, vitreous lustre, if you are looking for a gemstone that delivers on beauty and is also exceptionally good value for money, the spinel wins hands down.”
The Great Imposter
To the untrained eye, it’s impossible to tell the difference between a red spinel and a ruby, which is how the spinel got its nickname, “The Great Imposter”. The large, irregular shaped crimson spinel set at the front of the Imperial State Crown used at the coronation of King Charles III earlier this year was for centuries known as the Black Prince’s Ruby. Most likely mined in the mountains of Afghanistan, this famous case of mistaken identity sums up the fortunes of the spinel, which until recently has been one of history’s most underappreciated gemstones.
The modern birthstone of August
The good news is that the fortunes of the spinel - August’s birthstone - are finally looking up. With a veritable rainbow of spinels out there, there is a colour to suit every taste, and they remain excellent value for money, despite its rise in prominence in recent years. As a rough benchmark, blue sapphires are around twice the price of similarly sized blue spinels, and rubies around three times that of red spinels.Not only are they considerably cheaper, spinels also have a superior clarity and translucency. And with almost all rubies and sapphires undergoing heat treatment to enhance their colours, the fact that the spinel’s breathtaking range of colours is all natural is a breath of fresh air.
For Sophie, choosing a spinel is a no-brainer: “Grey-blue spinels are a popular gemstone to get engaged with. The neutral hue is very wearable - it’s the kind of colour that you can happily live with for the rest of your life. If you want to have everyone in the room asking what you’re wearing, choose a neon pink spinel instead. Whichever you opt for, you will never regret adding a spinel to your jewellery wardrobe.”