Spinel is a gemstone that can be red, blue, purple, rose, black or brown in color, or also colorless. Its red and blue varieties are sometimes confused with ruby or sapphire, two of the gemstone variations of the mineral corundum, because of their striking visual resemblance. For that reason, spinel had received insufficient recognition in the past. Now that consumers and gemstone dealers are able to accurately identify spinel, it is starting to gain appreciation for its own properties.
High-quality blue or red spinel gemstones are actually very rare - even rarer than sapphire or ruby specimens of similar quality. Nevertheless, spinel's price, even in those cases, is still lower than the price of sapphire and ruby. Color is an important factor that defines spinel's price - red spinel is rarer than other varieties, and also more expensive; blue exemplars are the second rarest spinel gems. Other varieties are more common and less sought after. Clarity is another important factor that defines spinel's value - stones with no visible inclusions are more appreciated.
Spinel can be synthetized, but synthetic spinel's value is much lower than that of natural specimens. Natural spinel's supply is somewhat limited, which contributes to its rarity.
The highest quality spinel often comes from Myanmar, with other mining sites in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Tanzania, Madagascar, and others.
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