Sunday, January 2, 2011

January Gemstone of the Month: Spinel

Happy New Year everyone! Do I have resolutions? You bet I do! They are, in no particular order, as follows: Eat less sugar (no brainer), read my Bible regularly, give my children more life experiences, blog more, and watch every episode of Psych ever made. Some important, some not so important, but all worthy endeavors nontheless! So in order to fulfill at least one resolution, I have decided to add a regular post to my blog: Gemstone of the Month.

One of my favorite gemstones is Spinel. To help you with its pronunciation, let me put forth the following scenario: Elle Woods is at the gym (wearing fabulous pink workout wear, of course) and decides to take a spin class. Unaware of the rigorous nature of spinning, she is, not surprisingly, pedaling as if taking Bruiser on a leisurely ride down to the shops. The instructor, not liking her oh-so-casual attitude, yells, "Spin, Elle, spin!" There you have it. And since the most prized color of spinel is a beautiful, deep, dark pink, I think my story is most fitting!

Aren't they beautiful? Spinel has its own branch on the gemstone family tree, next to Corundum (Ruby and Sapphire), Beryl (Emerald and Aquamarine), and Diamond. It is a hard stone, rating an 8 out of 10 on the mohs' hardness scale, behind only Diamond and Corundum. This makes it great to use in jewelry that might take a beating such as rings and bracelets. The most important Spinel deposits can be found in Cambodia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and Sri Lanka. Spinel was recognized as its own mineral just 150 years ago; before that it was classified as Ruby. In fact, many of the famous rubies are actually spinels, such as the "Black Prince's Ruby" in the English crown (see picture below), the 361ct "Timur Ruby" in a necklace in the English crown jewels, and the drop-shaped spinels in the Wittelsbach crown of 1830.

Spinel comes in various colors, such as orange, red, pink, blue, violet, dark green, and black. I enjoy using black spinel in my jewelry designs. I love the sparkle it gives my pieces and the fact that it is harder than other black stones, such as onyx, which is simply dyed quartz, or jet.

I'll leave you with an image of one of my necklaces, made with Black Banded Agate, Black Spinel, and Sterling Silver. Even though it's mostly black, it still has a fabulous sparkle and shine, thanks to one of my favorite gemstones, Spinel. Whaaat!?