Often mistaken for ruby, spinel is actually more rare but not as valuable as the popular red gemstone. Spinel can be found in pastels of pink, orange, purple, and blue. A hard and durable gemstone, spinel is commonly used as a replacement for ruby or sapphire for jewelry.
Spinel was only recognized as its own gem species as late as 1587, after a long career of masquerading as ruby – it can even be found on several of the Crown Jewels. Some of the world’s most spectacular finds of spinel have come from Myanmar, but the gemstone is also found in areas of Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and parts of the former Soviet Union.
Synthetic spinel is typical in the market, but quality pieces of natural spinel are exceedingly rare.