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Spinel characteristics

spinel, history and healing stone properties
"The dawn go between" necklace with blue spinel

The spinel is a fine gem mainly used in jewelry. But it is probably the most underestimated precious stone as for years; it was able to deceive the greatest as it could easily replace a ruby. Nowadays, it is paying for this misfortune whereas it is a very beautiful stone.

Its name comes from the Latin Spina or thorn which refers to the pointy shape of its crystals. For others, the name would come from the Greek Spinos meaning sparkle.

The spinel is a mineral that is born in the metamorphic limestone rocks such as marble, or in igneous rocks such as granite. It also appears in moon rocks or meteorites.

It is an aluminum and magnesium oxide. The spinel is colored by the presence of iron, chrome, cobalt or vanadium. It can be found in white, yellow, light blue, dark blue, blue purple, red, scarlet red, orange and black.

It was scientifically described for the first time in 1546 by Georg Bauer, who was called Georgius Agricola.

It can be found under other names such as akerite, candite (black spinel), rubace or rubacelle (small ruby), white sapphire (which is a forbidden use) and strongite.

Stories, legends and beliefs about the spinel

As mentioned earlier, the characteristics of the spinel are very close to the ones of the ruby and of the sapphire. It was often confused with good or bad faith. It would often replace it in the making of royal or ecclesiastical objects. It is due to this confusion that there are so few mentions in historical texts.

However it seemed to have been well identified in the Indian antiquity where it was named Red Diamond. It was an attribute of the warriors ‘cast.

The Romans would gather all the red gems under the word carbunculus. Therefore, they thought they all had the same virtues and properties: warlike ardor, talisman for injuries, and medicine against hemorrhages.

It is mainly from the Middle-Ages (1000 to 1900) in the Pakistan region called Balascia (Badakhshan today) that it became the most reputed and most important source of “ruby”. This deep red spinel that can compete with the most beautiful rubies is also called balas ruby. Marco Polo refers to it in one of his travels and describes the spinel mines. It is the source for most of the gems set on objects since the medieval period.

The spinel has also been known since the 11th century as a magnet stone. The sailors would use it to magnetize the hands of their compass.

The most beautiful “Ruby” spinel

Here is a non-exhaustive list of the most beautiful examples of spinel that succeeded in deceiving a lot of people for several centuries.

The most famous spinel is the intense red that adorns the crown of Catherine II of Russia. It weighs 400 carats and belongs nowadays to the Kremlin treasure.

The ruby of the Black Prince is in reality a spinel from the crown of England and weights 170 cts and is 5cm long. It is probably a balas ruby from Badakhshan. The first mention about it is in Spain in the 14th century. Spain was then divided in several tiny realms fighting against each other. It was probably the property of the Moorish prince Mohamad of Granada which was dismissed by his brother-in-law Abus Said. Don Pedro the Cruel of Seville entered the conflict and gained the big ruby in 1366, after eliminating Abus Said.Don Pedro had to take refuge in Bordeaux to run away from his brother Henry in 1366. He asked for the protection of the Black Prince in exchange of a big treasure. Beating Henry, the Black Prince eventually gained the famous ruby in 1367. The jewel reappears in 1415 in the hands of the English king Henry V. He would wear the stone on the crown adorning his helmet during the battle of Azincourt against the Duke of Alencon. The ruby passed into the hands of numerous kings of England and can be found today on the imperial crown, above the Cullinan II diamond.

One of the most ancient reported cases is the one of the Tamerlan Ruby or Timur Ruby. It was seized in India by Tamerlan in 1398 among several other pieces of jewelry. This “ruby” of 361 carats arrived in the long run in the treasure of the emperor Shah Jahan of India who built the Taj Mahal. The ruby of Timur was used to decorate his throne.
In 1851, the Queen Elizabeth received it as a gift from the East India Company. It joined the royal treasure of England, bezel set on a necklace. But it is only some years afterwards that it was identified as one of the biggest red spinels.

The Samarian spinel is meant to be the biggest of the superior quality spinels on the planet. The weight of this stone is about 500 carats and is red. It belongs to the jewels of the Iranian crown.

The spinel Côte-de-Bretagne is part of the royal treasure of France that is exhibited in the Louvres Museum. It belonged to Marguerite de Fois (+1486), princess of Navarre and duchess of Brittany. Shed gave it to her daughter Anne de Bretagne and then joined the treasure of Francois Ier. It was cut in the shape of a dragon to be the badge of the golden fleece of Louis the 15th.

Mines: Afghanistan, Burma, Thailand, Canada, Japan, Russia, Myanmar, the USA, Tadjikistan, France, Vietnam.

Healing properties of the Spinel

  • The spinel would appease the nervous system, stress and fears.
  • It would help the body to heal from an illness or an accident.
  • It would help with infertility.
  • The spinel would restore energy to fight against fatigue.

Healing properties of the blue spinel

  • The blue spinel would appease libido and schizophrenia.
  • It would balance the temperature of the body.
  • It would protect the eyes.
  • It would avoid hypothalamus and thyroid problems.

/!\ Please note that all healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions.

Spinel jewelry samples

The blue of the sky, happiness earrings in sterling silver and spinel
US $182.00

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