July 15, 2011 1

The History and Mystery of the Ruby and Spinel

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Rubies have always been an essential part of royal insignia and other famous jewelry.

Until the beginning of the 19th century, red spinels were thought to be rubies. This little-known gem, spinel, is so similar to the ruby that many of the great rubies of history are now classified as spinels.

Large red gemstones found in the Iranian Crown Jewels, Russian Crown Jewels, and British Crown Jewels, at one time considered to be rubies, are now classified as spinel. We now know that many of the “so called” large rubies in the crown jewels of monarchies around the world are actually spinel and not ruby.

British Crown Jewels

British Crown Jewels

It is not surprising that ruby and spinel were long confused. Both are mined in the gem gravels of Burma and Sri Lanka. They have similar hardness and durability, vivid color, and brilliance. Nevertheless, the ruby and spinel are unique in a variety of ways and each very special in their own right!



One of the most sought after gemstones in the world is ruby, which is also one of the most beautiful gemstones created by nature.

Rubies are perhaps one of the oldest known gemstones to man. Rubies can include the most beautiful intense and deep reds of any gemstone and because of this trait; the ruby was possessed by many kings and queens from the beginning of civilization.

Ruby comes in either a pinkish red or deep, rich red color. A ruby’s color is very stable and won’t fade. The crystal structure is extremely beautiful, shiny and transparent to translucent.

Raw ruby out from the mine

Raw ruby out from the mine

Rubies are formed from the mineral Corundum, which is made up of aluminum and oxygen. Rubies are usually the result of chromium and titanium inclusions in Corundum.

Corundum is an extremely hard mineral and scores a 9 on the Moh’s Hardness scale.  It is second only to the hardest substance on earth; the diamond. Rubies are extremely strong and resistant to scratches, making them an ideal gemstone to be worn in jewelry.

Ruby is one of the most valuable gemstones in the world. Natural occurring rubies are very rare and extremely rare in large sizes over 3 carats. They are truly exquisite and the right color ruby at a large size can be worth more than even a diamond.

Heart of the Kingdom Ruby

Heart of the Kingdom Ruby



Spinel is a special gemstone in many ways. For centuries it was mistaken for ruby and gained undeserved fame.
Although commonly thought of as red, spinel can be found in a range of beautiful pastel shades. These outstanding shades of pink, purple, orange, blue, plus every combination in between make spinel one of the most desirable stones in the world.

Due to its excellent hardness of 8 on the Moh’s scale and high clarity, spinel is a very fine gem for jewelry of all kinds. Fine spinel that is transparent is most sought after. Opaque spinel can sometimes display a star effect when cut as a cabochon and, it is especially valuable!

Natural forming spinel is rare; in fact it should be classified as very rare.¬† It is even rarer than ruby, and while they each look incredibly gorgeous, ruby is usually more valued and expensive.¬†Spinel is usually less valuable due to the fact, that most people have never seen true spinel, and so demand for it lacks. A fine spinel‚Äôs beauty, brilliance and lush saturated color make it one of the gem world’s best bargains!

Ruby’s status as the most valuable gem of the age is evidenced by its rarity, unique red color, and brilliance. Spinel is equally rare and fairly new in the world of gemstones, making it a less valuable stone. Nonetheless, both have amazing qualities and value and would greatly enhance one‚Äôs gemstone collection.

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