UNVEILING THE SPINEL - A GEM COLLECTOR’S BEST KEPT SECRET

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Over the last 10 years, we have used spinels in a number of our bespoke projects. We’ve always felt like these were “best kept secret” moments between them and us, as only industry insiders like gemologists and high jewellery collectors were in the know about how rare spinels were.

Today, we thought we would bring this secret out into the open, by launching our very first ready-to-wear collection of spinels. This marks the third feature gemstone of Choo Yilin’s engagement series, following unheated sapphires and our signature Type A Jadeite.

Our journey to creating our spinel series of engagement rings could only be done after spending years collecting and curating our favourite spinels in the shades, shapes and sizes our clients love. Because it’s a gemstone that typically receives very little public airtime, unlike diamonds or sapphires, we thought we would put together a little introduction about it.  

 
 

A GEM OF ROYAL HERITAGE

In Asia, these magnificent gems were cherished by emperors because of its incredible colour and its very well-formed crystal. Its crystal can be so perfect that, in Burma, they were called ‘Nat Thwe’, which means ‘polished by the gods’.

In Europe, spinels were used as crown jewels, however, they were mistaken as rubies for decades.

 
(Image credit: The Practical Gemologist)

(Image credit: The Practical Gemologist)

Some of the world’s most famous “rubies” are actually spinels.

The ‘Black Prince’s Ruby’, centrepiece of the Imperial State Crown, is actually a spinel.

The ‘Timur Ruby’, set in a necklace for Queen Victoria in 1853, is also a spinel.


(Image credit: Lotus Gemology)

(Image credit: Lotus Gemology)


 

WHAT ARE SPINELS?

"Spinel is one of the best-kept secrets for avid gem lovers and collectors,"
- Shawn O’Sullivan, gem expert Vault buyer.

Spinels are precious gems with a hardness of 8 on the MOHs Hardness Scale (where diamonds are a 10, and sapphires are a 9), making them fine choices for heirlooms and jewellery.

The spinel is beloved by gem experts for its dazzling hues, from reds to pinks, blues to purples and oranges. Recently, spinels were declared a birthstone for the month of August.

 
 
 
 

THE BIRTH OF GEMOLOGY

Differentiating the ruby from the spinel is actually what gave birth to the science of gemology.

Prior to 1783, spinels and rubies were categorised as the same stone, and confusion between the two gems continued until the 1850s as both spinels and rubies tended to be found in the same few geographical areas.

 
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ARE SPINELS RARE?

“Natural spinel was so rare that the world had never heard of it”
- Jay Boyle, gem expert Vault buyer.

Based on annual production in carats across the world, a natural spinel is rarer than diamonds of any colour, sapphires or rubies.

 
 

WORLD RECORD-BREAKING VALUE

At the turn of the millennium, Burmese red spinels (the most desired colour of spinels) were valued at USD $2000 per carat. By 2015, that market value nearly tripled to $5,800 per carat. As the spinel gains the recognition and popularity it deserves, the market trend for the value of spinels also continues to rise.

 
(Image Credit: Jewels Du Jour)

(Image Credit: Jewels Du Jour)

The 50.13-carat Hope Spinel sold for USD $1.47 million at Bonhams London, setting a world-record price of USD $30,000 per carat.


 

A NATURAL MARVEL

At Choo Yilin, we hope to celebrate life’s greatest love stories and most significant moments with one-of-a-kind keepsakes. This is why we’re dedicated to creating rings that feature natural, unheated and untreated spinel centrepieces.

This means that the stones have not been altered, or subject to chemical treatments, preserving the gem’s organic brilliance and ensuring no two pieces are ever alike.

 
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DO SPINELS HAVE INCLUSIONS?


Inclusions are a natural occurrence inside of a gemstone as it forms in the earth. Inclusions give gemologists valuable insights on a gemstone, and they’re often celebrated as they indicate a gem’s authenticity while also adding to the uniqueness of each piece.

Spinel inclusions can be intriguing and beautiful.

(Image Credit: GIA)

(Image Credit: GIA)


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THE IRIDESCENT SPINEL ENGAGEMENT RING

For each centrepiece of our newest launch, The Iridescent Spinel Engagement Rings, our Merchandising team spent months curating spinels in a variety of hues that generously capture light to signify dazzling new beginnings and love stories that will shine wondrously for years to come.