black spinel

Black Spinel Gemstone

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black spinel

Black spinel is one of the black gemstones used in jewelry.

Spinel stones 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 spinel gems.

What is Black Spinel?

Black spinel is a gemstone made of magnesium oxide or magnesium aluminum oxide in the crust of the earth.

This stone mostly occurs as water-worn pebbles and octahedral crystal formations.

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

Black spinel stones 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, spinel stone 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.

Why would a gemstone be named something like a thorn?

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

Maybe that is why whoever worked with this stone decided to name it a spinel.

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

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

Thus, it sparkles a lot.

Is black spinel valuable?

Black spinel is a naturally-occurring gemstone.

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

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

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What is black spinel worth?

Spinel stones get often mistaken for ruby and emerald.

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

However, they are different stones with different properties.

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

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

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

The faceted spinels get priced higher as their carat increases.

A large, well cut spinel 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 gems 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.

The same goes for black spinel jewelry.

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

After cleaning your jewelry, 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 jewelry you should not use them.

Black Spinel vs Black Diamond

Black spinel is a black diamond alternative.

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

Black spinel is a hard gem yet it is softer than diamond.

Black diamond tops the Mohs ratings with a 10 while black spinel has 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 black spinel.

Black tourmaline is sensitive to heat and chemicals.

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

Probably, black spinel would be a better choice than a black 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?

Black spinel is a member of spinel family which are naturally occurring stones.

Spinels are made of crystalized magnesium-aluminum oxide.

2. Is black spinel the same as black onyx?

Black spinel is not black onyx.

They are different gems, which belong to the spinel and onyx groups, respectively.

3. Is black spinel expensive?

Black spinel generally has a largely lower price tag than diamonds.

It is a rare gem with sparkle and hardness.

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