A hard, colored gemstone. Spinels are composed of magnesium aluminum oxide with color-producing traces of iron, zinc, chromium, or manganese. Bright red (balas) and deep blue spinels were sometimes confused with rubies and sapphires. Spinels can also be violet (almandine), pink, yellow (rubicelle), green, brown, or black. Spinels have been mined since at least 1000 BCE. Early deposits were found in the alluvial gravels of Sri Lanka, in limestones of Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand, and near Oxus in the Middle East. Currently, spinels are also mined in Russia, Italy, Sweden, Germany, Canada (Ontario), and the U.S. (New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, California). Spinels are also made synthetically as magnesia-alumina or magnesia-chromia. Industrially, the synthetic spinels are used in electronics and as refractory materials. Colorless synthetic spinels are sold as diamond substitutes in gemstone settings.
Synonyms and Related Terms
spinelle; Balas rubies (red); spinel rubies (red); ruby spinel; magnesia spinel; rubicelle (yellow); almandine (violet); pleonast (blue, dark green, black); hercynite (iron aluminum oxide-black); gahnite (zinc aluminum oxide-dark blue-green); galaxite (manganese aluminum oxide-black); Spinell (Deut., Sven.); espinela (Esp., Port.); spinelle (Fr.); spinel (Ned.)
Isometric crystal system. Fracture = conchoidal. Streak = white. Luster = vitreous.
Fluorescence = Natural spinel may fluoresce under long UV, but not short UV; synthetic spinel often shows colors in short UV light
Mineralogy Database: Spinel
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