In ancient Sanskrit writings, the gemstone spinel was called the “daughter of ruby.” A fine red treasure—adored, yet distinct.

And while wholly different from the ruby, many fine red spinel gems were mistaken as rubies for centuries. For example, the British Crown Jewels contain a piece called the “Black Prince’s Ruby,” which is actually a 170-carat red spinel. Similarly, The Timur Ruby, a 352-carat gemstone once owned by Mogul emperors and now held by Queen Elizabeth, was recently discovered to be a red spinel.


The majority of spinel gems are mined from deposits in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, and lesser amounts from Tanzania and Tajikistan.

Although red spinel is the best known of this gemstone family, spinel’s coloring can range orange to lavender to mauve. Common in sizes up to 2 carats, larger spinel gemstones are rare.


With a hardness of 8, spinel is a durable gemstone suited for any type of jewelry. The most popular shapes are oval, round, and cushion cuts. Because of spinel’s rarity, it is often set into custom, handcrafted jewelry, making it a striking addition to any collection.

To clean spinel jewelry at home, let the piece soak in a solution of warm water and a gentle dish detergent, scrubbing with a soft brush to remove dirt and dust. As with all fine jewelry, spinel should be removed before sleeping.