John and Laura Ramsey write: Spinel Fabulous and Becoming Famous

spinel photo

A number of our established clients know about spinel. Spinel is a relatively unknown gem. It has been unknown at least partly because it is very rare. It is chemically related to corundum (ruby/sapphire) in that spinel and corundum both have aluminum as a major component. In corundum is largely aluminum while spinel has both magnesium and aluminum in it. Due to its rarity spinel can be quite expensive. Due to a lot of writing about spinel in the last 10 years people’s awareness of spinel is greater than ever driving up spinel prices even more. Even back in the 1980’s large red spinels could reach prices in the thousands of dollars per-carat. One example of that is the gem in the photo. The gem in the photo is a little over 12 carats. That gem came through our hands back in the mid-1980’s and at the time was worth about $3,000-per-carat. You can only imagine how much it is worth now!!!
Over the past years and especially over the past decade much has been written about spinel so there is at least some awareness of the gem. When we were first in the business spinel was only known to come from Sri-Lanka and Southeast Asia—found amongst the ruby and sapphire deposits. Since that time some wonderful gems have come from East Africa and the Pamir mountains in Central Asia—a mountain range in confluence with the Himalayas.

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6 thoughts on “John and Laura Ramsey write: Spinel Fabulous and Becoming Famous

  1. John and Laura, thank you for your post on this beautiful special gem–one of my favorites! I’m glad to hear that spinel is gaining recognition and popularity in its own right and that people are becoming aware that natural varieties exist, because synthetic spinel is so common. Is it true that red spinel is never heat treated, as many rubies are? Do the natural stones undergo any kind of enhancement treatment?

    • Gail— there is still a very little consensus about the treatment of spinal. Until the last few years there was not much evidence that heat treating would help spinal at all. Some spinal found along with ruby may have been treated inadvertently. Still, color does not seem to be improved by treatment. Some stones from East Africa that had poor clarity out of the mine might have been treated but that is still up in the air.

      • John and Laura, thank you for answering my question, and this is very interesting! I had read that spinel is never heat treated but I’m not surprised to hear from you it’s actually more complicated. In any case, I adore the red spinel ring I purchased from you 20 yr ago and I’m thrilled to have such a precious and rare gem in my collection! I recall that in one of your TV appearances you compared it to the color of the begonia flower (mix of red & pink) and it’s spot-on true!

      • Gail— just like everything in life things are always complicated. Since you have one of the “begonia” colored spinels let me say congratulations. Prices on those have gone up significantly in that time. I’ve only seen that color come from Burma. Some of the colors from some of the other locations are amazing but that particular color is everything I would want in a color—JR

  2. John and Laura, I’m very excited to hear that!!! I could never afford a Burmese ruby of similar size and quality (my birthstone) so the spinel ring is especially precious to me. The diamonds in the ring are equally beautiful. It was expensive when I purchased it many years ago, but I’m so glad I took advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s like you say, stretching to buy the best gem you almost can’t afford pays off down the road!

    • Gail— if you noticed we stopped selling spinels of that color (not that we ever had many). The reason is that one day we woke up and the price went up so far that it just could not happen. That very specific color is very happy, charming, bright, calming yet energizing. So far that specific color seems not to be duplicated in any other gem. We’re glad you enjoy it—J&L

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