Origin: Burma, Sri Lanka, Tanzania

Birthstone: August (new)

Wedding anniversary: 22nd

One of the most famous gemstones of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom is the Black Prince’s Ruby, set in the Imperial State Crown. You can see it on public display in the Tower of London. This, almost 5cm long, glowing red uncut stone is estimated to weigh 170 carats. It has been in the British Royal Family since 1367. Named ‘The Black Prince’s Ruby, it is a remarkable stone. However one of the most amazing things about it is that it’s not a ruby at all but actually a fine red spinel.

Prior to scientific study of minerals, all red gems were called ‘ruby’. In 1783, mineralogist, Rome de Lisle, was the first scientist to clearly distinguish the differences between true ruby and spinel. However,  The Black Prince’s Ruby was not correctly identified as spinel until far more recent times.

Natural Red Spinel

Spinel is composed of magnesium aluminate, coloured by chromium and iron. It is quite hard, 8 on the Mohs scale, and forms as cubic crystals like diamond formation. Due to spinel’s excellent dispersion, spinel gems can possess vivid fire. The intensity of spinel colour is partly due to the fact that spinel is singly refractive.

Spinel is mined primarily in Burma, Sri Lanka and recently in Tanzania.  Large stones are extremely rare; spinel gems weighing ten carats are practically non-existent.

The most desirable colours that are sought after by collectors are Bright Blue Cobalt Spinel, most popular is red, and every variation of pink.  Any spinel weighing over two carats is rare. The most valuable spinel is red or reddish-orange. One of the attractions of spinel is that it comes in a wide range of gorgeous colours: lavender, purple, flame orange, blue-green and black to name a few.  For red spinel, the finest colours tend to be similar to ruby, i.e. a rich, intense red, however, spinel tends to be more of a brick red than ruby. Like all gems, the most coveted are those with intense colour, being neither too light nor too dark.

Gemstone Stone Gems Diamond Spinel Garnet

So what is the great secret of spinel? The answer is that spinel is in many respects the equal of ruby and sapphire. Though ruby is slightly harder (9 on the Mohs scale), spinel contains fewer inclusions than ruby, and has greater fire and brilliance. Spinel is never heated nor treated in any way; ithere is no known treatment for improving the colour or clarity of spinel.

Purple Spinel Sample From Mogok Myanmar

Currently, spinel is typically available at commercially favourable prices, making spinel currently tremendous value as prices for fine gems are rising every year. The reason that spinel is less well-known and currently priced so favourably is that supply is very limited.  Due to this fact, the gem industry hasn’t readily promoted this gemstone when supplies are small and unreliable and sparse in availability. Spinel, therefore,  continues to be mainly a collector’s stone.  Spinel is still a secret, but a secret we’d like to share with our customers.

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Words from Our Customers

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I cannot recommend Michael Platt more highly to anyone looking for an engagement ring. I walked in knowing nothing about what was involved and was expertly guided through the design process by Jordan over a series of 4 visits. At no point did I feel pressurised to make a decision or spend more than felt comfortable and Jordan has created the most stunning ring that my fiancé is delighted with.

George Lenon
East London

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Brilliant personal service every step of the way. I wanted a diamond engagement ring and was able to easily discuss different stones and design options with Grace sending sketches back and forth. I decided on an emerald cut stone with a platinum ring. Communication was excellent and the ring delivered on time and discreetly to an agreed address. I proposed by Lake Windermere having hidden the ring in the sandwich tin. A beautiful ring - my partner loves it!

Alex Boyce

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I have had several pieces designed by the lovely staff at Michael Platt in Wimbledon. The pieces have been much admired. My first visit was several years ago so when I wanted something designed and made with stones from other pieces of jewellery which were very sentimental I had absolutely no hesitation about bringing the project to the shop in Wimbledon. The staff are so helpful, warm, welcoming and informative. Great service and a delight to do business with. I have never been disappointed.

Frieda Houghton
New York

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My wife and I purchased a lovely bespoke entwined engagement & wedding ring from Michael Platt, 28 years ago. We visited in February this year to enquire about an eternity ring. Jordan was inspirational and used diamonds from a family heirloom. The design full complemented and sits beautifully with the original rings. It was a very pleasurable experience and we are both delighted with the result. Fantastic to know they are still offering great service and bespoke design.

Robert Vose

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The service we have received here has been second to none. We first came to the shop a few years ago and had my engagement ring designed and created. It really is incredible what they do. The design was perfect to me and my style and the final product exceeded our expectations. So much so we finally came back recently and had both wedding rings made. Thanks again to the members of staff at Michael Platt you really are a fabulous bunch and make dreams come true!

Hannah Kennedy

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