black spinel

Black Spinel Gemstone

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black spinel

Spinels gemstones are used in all sorts of jewelry.

They come in many colors ranging from red to yellow, from amber to purple.

Probably, the most famous member is the red spinel which is on The Imperial State Crown, worn by British monarchs.

In this post, we’ll have a closer look at the black colored version.

What is Black Spinel?

Black spinela are made of magnesium oxide or magnesium aluminum oxide in the crust of the earth.

They are completely different from black diamonds which are made of carbon crystals.

Black spinels mostly occur as water-worn pebbles and octahedral crystal formations.

It is a hard and durable gem with a Mohs rating of 8.

Spinel deposits are found in many countries like Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, USA, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Tadzhikistan, Nigeria, Madagascar, Brazil, Nepal, Australia, and Afganistan.

Because of its color, it may be mistaken for diamond, onyx or tourmaline of black color.

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What does black spinel mean? What is it origin?

The word Spinel may come from the Latin word “Spinella”, which means little thorn.

You may ask, Why would a gemstone be named something like a thorn?

One way to justify it would be that it is quite sharp- at the very beginning of its formation.

Maybe that is why whoever worked with it decided to name it that way.

Another origin can be the Greek word “Spinos” which means “sparkle”.

This is easier to understand as the black spinel crystals are highly reflective.

Thus, it sparkles a lot.

Is black spinel valuable?

It is a naturally-occurring gemstone.

It is rarely found and valuable, yet there are also versions made in the lab.

These are cheaper stones, used as diamond or ruby simulants in frugal setups for engagement rings and other jewelry.

And just as with diamonds, black spinels are priced based on their clarity, color, carat and size.

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What is black spinel worth?

These stones get often mistaken for ruby and emerald.

It is true that its red and green variants look very similar to rubies and emeralds, respectively.

However, they are different materials with different properties.

The same goes for black spinel which is often compared to black diamond, black onyx or black sapphire.

Diamond, ruby, emerald and sapphire are the top precious gems, unlike spinels.

Even though, they are found rarely, they do not command high-price tags like diamonds.

The faceted gemstones get priced higher as their carat increases.

A large, well cut gem with a full color will be priced accordingly.

We must also add that untreated and inclusion-free stones will receive the highest attention and valuation.

You can check our post Black Sapphire vs Black Diamond for more on the most prominent black gemstones compared.

black spinel close-up

How to Clean Black Spinel

It is always a good idea not to wear precious jewelry pieces while doing hard work or outdoor activities.

It is no different with black spinel jewelry.

Cleaning these pieces is easy: soap, water and soft cloth will get the job done.

After cleaning your items, make sure to rinse and dry it to avoid any residues and water marks.

Ultrasonic and steam jewelry cleaners are very helpful in many cases but for black spinel, you should not use them.

Black Spinel vs Black Diamond

Black spinel is a black diamond alternative.

As it is significantly cheaper, it welcomes buyers who do not want to spend their budget on a diamond wedding ring.

It is a hard gem yet it is softer than diamond.

Black diamond tops the Mohs ratings with a 10 while the other gem family have about an 8 rating,


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Black Spinel vs Black Tourmaline

Tourmalines come in many different colors from red to baby blue, from orange to black.

Black tourmaline is a hard gem with a 7,5 rating on the Mohs scale.

Thus, it is softer than our gem subject.

Black tourmaline is sensitive to heat and chemicals.

Inclusions can increase its fragility against high-temperature fluctuations and reactive materials.

Probably, because of these reasons, black spinel would be a better choice than a tourmaline.

Black Spinel vs Black Onyx

Onyx is a variety of chalcedony which has parallel strips.

It differs from Agate which has curved strips.

It may have many color layers such as red, blue, pink and black.

Onyx specimens generally contain black and/or white stripes.

Black spinel is harder, brighter than black onyx.

As it comes in bigger volumes, it is much easier to cut an uniform color piece than a black onyx which has layers.

Related questions

1. What is black spinel made of?

It is a member of the spinel family, which are naturally occurring stones.

These are made of crystalized magnesium-aluminum oxide.

2. Is black spinel expensive?

It generally has a largely lower price tag than diamonds.

It is a rare gem with sparkle and hardness.

The prices will vary with carat, cut and fullness of its black color.