SPINEL: August Birthstone

Birthstones Boca Raton, Gemstones Boca Raton -

SPINEL: August Birthstone

Spinel was recently added as an August birthstone, sharing this month with peridot. It is also traditionally given as a 22nd wedding anniversary gift. The name “spinel” comes from the Latin word spina, which means thorn, in reference to the shape of spinel crystals. This second August birthstone comes in a wealth of colors: intense red, vibrant pink, orange, purple, violet, blue and bluish green.


For centuries, spinel was mistaken for other gemstones. Some of history’s most famous “rubies” have actually turned out to be this August birthstone. Not until the 18th century was spinel clearly separated from ruby on the basis of their chemical differences. Spinel has been making a name for itself over the last couple of decades, and demand for fine stones well exceeds supply. In fact, spinel is in great demand among gemologists and gem connoisseurs. This has, to some degree, closed the spinel vs. ruby-and-sapphire price gap.


Today, spinel is found in several locations. Major sources include Tajikistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Tanzania and Pakistan. Some sources are known for producing spinel of arresting color, like hot pink and red spinel from Myanmar.


Spinel is generally a highly sought after by gem connoisseurs, and well-formed spinel crystals are in high demand among collectors. An assessment of the following characteristics determines a spinel’s value.
  • COLOR. Some spinel colors are more rare and valuable than others. In general, red spinel is the most desirable, followed by fine cobalt-blue spinel, then by vibrant hot pink and vivid orange stones. Violet and bluish purple to purple, or lavender, stones tend to be less attractive, and less in demand than other, rarer colors.

Red spinel ranges from orangy red to purplish red, with pure red to slightly purplish red hues of medium to medium-dark tone considered the finest of all. A top-quality 5 carat red spinel might sell for around a tenth of the price of an equivalent-quality ruby, and pink spinel often sells for less than pink sapphire. While a blue spinel's hues range from violet blue through very slightly greenish blue. Most stones have low saturation, and the blue hues take on a distinctly grayish look. The best and most highly valued blue spinel colors parallel blue sapphire, with intense violet-blue to pure blue colors that are neither too dark nor too light.

  • CLARITY. Spinel that has no inclusions visible to the eye is more valuable than spinel with inclusions that can be seen. The more visible any inclusions are, the more the value drops. Spinel can have some very beautiful inclusions that reflect the gem’s usual octahedral crystal growth though. Some even appear in groups that resemble human fingerprints.
  • CUT. Spinel is cut in a variety of shapes and cutting styles. As with many colored stones, ovals and cushion shapes are very popular. Because of the scarcity of spinel on the market, most fine-quality rough is cut in non-standard sizes to save weight, instead of in standard industry sizes. The standard-cut, or calibrated, stones that are available tend to be mixed-cut ovals, usually in 6×4-mm and 7×5-mm sizes, suitable for center stones in rings. Commercial qualities are more commonly cut to standard sizes for jewelry.
  • CARAT WEIGHT. Larger spinel sizes rise considerably in per-carat price. Availability drops and prices rise sharply for fine red, pink, and blue stones above five carats.


Spinel is at an 8 on the Mohs scale of hardness, so it is typically a durable gem for rings and other jewelry. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners can be used; however, the presence of fractures could pose a problem. Spinel is stable when exposed to light and chemicals but high heat can cause some colors of this August birthstone to fade. Warm soapy water is always a safe alternative for cleaning your spinel jewelry.


Looking for a gift for someone that has a birthday in August? A piece of spinel jewelry would be a very unique and personal gift to give. Stop by Devon's Diamonds & Decor to find beautiful spinel jewelry in Boca Raton.

devons diamonds and decor logo