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Pink Spinel

If there is such a thing as bad karma for gems, pink spinel has it in spades. By rights, this gem should have a far wider following. To start with, it is often mistaken for pink sapphire (just as red spinel is for ruby), but costs a lot less despite greater rarity.

To compound the gem’s misfortunes, pink spinel comes from the same highly regarded sources as pink sapphire: Burma, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. In fact, the two are usually found together in the same gravels.

Although it shares common features and common ground with pink sapphire, pink spinel hasn’t shared in the corundum’s prosperity.

One reason is the fact that to many, “spinel” is synonymous with “synthetic.”

Mass-produced in many colors for class rings, mother’s rings, and inexpensive birthstone jewelry, synthetic spinel has been used for years as a stand-in for diamond, aqua and peridot, to name a few. Thus when a dealer oohs and ahs over some intense pink one-carat natural spinel and asks hundreds or thousands of dollars for it, the jeweler who thinks of spinel as a pennies-per-carat manmade material is understandably skeptical.

The Rarity Factor

Spinel in general and pink spinel in particular are relatively rare stones. The abundance of synthetic spinels should not be taken as an indicator of any natural abundance. To the contrary, fine pink spinels are in a class, rarity-wise, with pink topaz, far scarcer than fine pink sapphires or pink tourmalines.

Maybe too scarce.

In recent years, the trend in colored stone use has been toward affordable, plentiful stones such as amethyst and blue topaz. Now that pink has joined violet and blue as a staple jewelry color, manufacturers are experimenting with gems like rhodolite and pink tourmaline that can be bought in bulk and cut in standard sizes suitable for mass-production items. Pink spinel is too rare and expensive to be considered for high-volume use.

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Pink Spinel