The Black Prince’s Ruby. The Timur Ruby. For centuries, spinel, the great imposter, masqueraded as ruby in Europe’s crown jewels.


Spinel is found in a wide range of colours due to the presence of various impurities, and is transparent to almost spinel by chromium and iron is the most popular, although for many years it was thought to be a variety of ruby. The orange- yellow or orange-red variety is called rubicelle(a diminutive of the French word for ruby) Blue spinel is coloured by iron, and less commonly by cobalt. Occasionally, inclusions of crystals such as magnetite or apatite may occur, and some Sri Lankan spinels may include con crystals surrounded by brown haloes. Star stones are rare, but when cut en cabochon may show 4-rayed or 6-rayed stars.


Spinel occurs in granites and metamorphic rocks, and is often found in association with corundum. Octahedral crystals and waterworn pebbles in a wide range of colours are found in the gem gravels of Burma, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar. Other localities include Afghanistan, Pakistan, Brazil, Australia, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, the former USSR, and the USA.

Fun Facts

It has long been mistaken for ruby by emperors and monarchs. Many of the famous “rubies” of history were actually spinels.
Birthstone August
Crystal Structure Cubic
Composition Magnesium Aluminium Oxide
Luster Vitreous
Refractive Index 1.71-1.73
Specific Gravity 3.60
Mohs Hardness 8
DR None