August Birthstone Spinel | A Complete Guide

August Birthstone Spinel

The newest August birthstone spinel has a far reaching history probably longer than any of the precious stones. The study area of gemology was born particularly to study the difference between spinel vs. ruby.

Red spinel was mistaken for Rubies from ancient times. Some of the most notable historically known red sapphires were later found to be spinels, thus spinels are also called the great impostor.

How is Spinel Formed?

Chemical composition of spinel is MgAl2O4. Spinel crystals are formed in the shape of two opposite back to back pyramids also called octahedron. It scores 8 in Mohs scale of hardness just behind sapphires.

August birthstone Spinel crystals
Spinel Crystals

Therefore spinels are pretty hard and tough. It can be used and wear without fear of damage and depreciation of quality.

Spinels are mostly found in Sri Lanka, Burma, Myanmar and Tanzania. Some of these crystals are exceptionally large in size compared to naturally found sapphires or diamonds.

Are Spinels Valuable?

Spinel is a highly underrated colored gemstone. A well cut spinel is practically indistinguishable from a fine sapphire. More commonly found in nature compared to sapphires and it has a distinct luster in it’s rough form.

August birthstone Spinel
A Fine Red Spinel

The value of the spinel depends on the color, clarity, cut and carat weight such like other precious stones. Spinels however has some of these characteristics to a greater extent due to the inherent nature of these exquisite crystals.

August Birthstone Spinel Colors

Pure spinels are colorless and the foreign trace elements give the color to the stone. August birthstone spinel comes in a range of colors. Thus you can select what’s closest to your heart. So August born has the flexibility of choosing their preferred color, a luxury some of the birthstones do not offer.

Spinel colors
Spinal Colors

The color can range from pink and red shades, blues, purple, brown and even black. Intense red, hot pink and vivid blues are considered to be the highest in value. Too pale and too dark shades and particularly the purple and lavender are not so expensive and commonly found.

Spinel Clarity

Similar to diamond, spinel crystals are uniformly formed, thus these are singly reflective. Unlike sapphires, the color reflection is even through out the stone. Therefore many of the spinels offer a greater clarify. Fractures, bubbles and holes are not so common compared to sapphires.

Star spinels are also found, but very rare in nature thus quite expensive. Asterism occurs when there is abundance of growth lines and rutile silk.

Clarity also affects the value. Clear and transparency of the stone coupled with highly sought after color is an expensive combination.

Spinel Cut and Carat Weight

Singly refractive nature of spinel crystal allows the cutter to concentrate on getting the maximum yield. Sapphires on the other hand due to doubly refractive nature requires the cutter to assess the color band of the stone and do everything possible to retain the color intensive region within the bottom portion of the cut gemstone.

A spinel rough
A Ceylon Rough Spinel

Therefore you can find spinels cut in different shapes to retain the carat weight. Cushion and oval cut is more frequent. When well faceted by a skilled cutter, spinels can exhibit excellent brilliance.

August Birthstone Spinel Meaning

Spinel has a rich history, being misinterpreted as rubies for centuries having given birth to the gemology are only part of them. One such notable red spinel is setting on Great Britain’s Imperial’s State Crown. It became the 3rd birthstone for month of August only recently giving the rightfully deserving attention among gem enthusiasts.

Great Britain's Imperial's State Crown
Great Britain’s Imperial’s State Crown

The name spinel was derived from the latin word ‘spina’ which translate to ‘thorn’, seemingly referred to the growth structure of the crystals. Wearing a red spinel is said be effective against general blood related health issues and growth of stamina and energy. Spinel is also believed to spread peace, unity and reconciliation thereby avoiding the conflict and disharmony.

Red Spinel Vs. Ruby

Any piece of article about spinel must address this. Probably the most dazzling question of gem industry that was not demystified until the latter part of 19th century. Even today, there is a good chance you will be deceived by a spinel presented to be a ruby.

August Birthstone spinel
A Red Spinel
a ruby
A Ruby

Ruby being a sapphire, is quite expensive than a spinel. But the untrained and unaided eye can hardly tell the difference most of the time. However there are few fundamental differences between the red spinel and ruby.

As mentioned above, the spinel is single refractive whereas a ruby is doubly refractive. Light that goes through the spinel will refract in a single ray whereas ruby will break the light into two beams. Meaning spinel will never showcase a double effect or the image twinning. When looked through a jewelers loupe, a ruby will exhibit two sets of each facet.

When looked at from different directions, a ruby may exhibit different shades of red with slight pinkish and orangish hues whereas spinel will still be red from all directions.

Apart from this, spinel can showcase trace amounts of green color up on light dispersion, whereas ruby will not disperse green light at all. Rubies can look and feel harder than a spinel and may weigh slightly more. However if you are paying a big sum, it is always advisable to seek expert help or valid certification.

Jewelries for August Birthstone Spinel

Spinel are now increasingly used in jewelry making. Spinel rings, pendants and earrings are now frequently seen. The price however does vary quite a lot depending on the color and the quality of the cut. A fine spinel in favorable colors like vivid blue, hot pink and intense red tend to cost from 50 to 200 dollars per carat. Thus a platinum or gold ring could well be into 1000 dollars almost beating a yellow or a pink sapphire that is at the lower end of the sapphire pricing scale.

spinel ring
august birthstone spinel
Spinel Rings

A score of 8 on Mohs’ scale earn a respectable level of tear and wear resistance for all kinds of jewelries and can be even worn as everyday wear rings. Spinel color and quality may not alter easily with regular usage, however it’s advisable to clean the stone with warm and soapy water to retain the brilliance for an extended period of time.

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