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The Story of Red Spinel


#1

The Story of Red Spinel
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
By: Scott Montgomery, Burma
For Gemcal Co.,Ltd,
http://www.ganoksin.com/kosana/gemcal/spinel.htm

              --Copyright 1996 Gemcal Co.,Ltd--

If you have ever been to London and seen the British Crown
Jewels, you will have noticed the giant red gemstone set in the
center of the Imperial State Crown. This stone, quite possibly
the most famous gem in the entire world, is the Black Prince’s
Ruby. As large as a hen’s egg, weighing approximately 170 carats,
and measuring five centimeters in length, the Black Prince’s Ruby
is a spectacular red, and it seems to glow with an internal fire
of its own. It is so remarkable that it has become one of the
world’s most cherished jewels. But did you know that the Black
Prince’s Ruby really isn’t a ruby at all? It’s actually a spinel,
and it has a long and fascinating history.

The gem’s first known owner was Abu Said, a Moorish prince of
Granada in Spain in the mid-1300s. Abu Said lost the gem, as well
as his crown and his life, to Don Pedro the Cruel of Seville. In
1366 Don Pedro’s own brother attacked him in turn, but Don Pedro
successfully defended himself with help from the armies of the
Black Prince of Bordeaux. As payment, the Black Prince demanded
Don Pedro’s prize jewel, and Don Pedro was in no position to
argue.

How the Black Prince’s Ruby came to England is unknown, but it
made its next historical appearance in a jeweled helmet worn by
the English king, Henry V, at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The
helmet saved Henry’s life when a blow from the battleaxe of the
French duke of Alencon nearly destroyed it. Both the king and the
helmet miraculously survived the war, and the Black Prince’s Ruby
remained in English hands.

Later, King James the First had the gem set into the state
crown, and, despite many threats of theft, fire, and even Nazi
bombs, over the centuries the Black Prince’s Ruby has remained the
magnificent centerpiece of the British royal regalia.

While the Black Prince’s Ruby is by far the world’s most famous
red spinel, it is definitely not the only one ever possessed or
coveted by kings, queens, and emperors. The Timur Ruby, also in
the Crown Jewels of England, is even larger, weighing 361 carats,
or more than 70 grams. It is inscribed with the names of six of
its former owners. The Kremlin Museum in Moscow has another giant
gem that probably belonged to the Tsar; this one weighs 414
carats.

The most dazzling collection of fine red spinels is found in the
Crown Jewels of Iran. The majority were plundered from India when
the Mogul Empire fell. The largest one weighs about 500 carats,
and it is indeed the biggest on record. Many others weigh over
100 carats, and more than a dozen have been carved with the name
of Jahangir, a Mogul emperor over 350 years ago.

Once you have seen a fine red spinel, you will easily understand
why ancient royalty esteemed it as much as ruby, and sometimes
even more. Top quality red spinels and rubies have superb pure red
colors, and they actually fluoresce, or glow, in natural light.
These similarities led to some confusion in early history when
people classified gems only by their colors. They called all blue
gems sapphires, all green gems emeralds, and all red gems rubies;
spinels were called “Balas rubies,” after a region in northern
India known as Balascia, where they were first reportedly mined.

Later, when people learned that gems of the same color are not
necessarily the same kind of material, they still had difficulty
separating red spinel and ruby. Not only do the two gems have the
same color and fluorescence, but they are often found together in
the same mines, and ruby’s physical properties are very similar to
spinel’s; ruby is only slightly more dense and slightly harder.
(Spinel is actually as hard or harder than emerald, topaz, quartz,
and all but five other natural minerals.)

Despite its fame in the ancient world, red spinel has never been
as abundant as ruby, and today it is quite difficult to find. The
old mines in Afghanistan that produced so many of the giant stones
in the Moguls’ collections seem to have been worked out, and the
gem gravels of Sri Lanka and Africa, which give up many beautiful
pastel colored spinels, only rarely contain gems with the pure
intense red color of the Black Prince’s Ruby.

Now only the famous mines of Mogok, Burma, hold substantial
quantities of fine red spinels. Jealously guarded by the Burmese
kings until 1885, controlled by a monopoly under the British
Empire, and then nationalized by a socialist government in 1962,
Mogok’s mines have scarcely had a chance to live up to their
potential. While a few beautiful red gems have been smuggled out
through the gauntlet of jungle, opium warlords, rebels, and
soldiers that makes up the Burmese hinterland, these exquisite
gems have only been able to offer enticing hints of the sumptuous
jewels that must still lie hidden in the mountains of Mogok. No
one really knows how many gems remain there undiscovered, but
perhaps there is still one that will rival even the Black Prince’s
Ruby and remind us all of the days when kings and emperors held
sway over vast domains and counted their wealth by the natural
beauty that they owned.


#2

You wrote:

                             The Story of Red Spinel  
                              ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
                        By:  Scott Montgomery, Burma
                                For Gemcal Co.,Ltd,
         http://www.ganoksin.com/kosana/gemcal/spinel.htm
                     --Copyright 1996 Gemcal Co.,Ltd--

If you have ever been to London and seen the British Crown
Jewels, you will have noticed the giant red gemstone set in the
center of the Imperial State Crown. This stone, quite possibly
the most famous gem in the entire world, is the Black Prince’s
Ruby. As large as a hen’s egg, weighing approximately 170 carats,
and measuring five centimeters in length, the Black Prince’s Ruby
is a spectacular red, and it seems to glow with an internal fire
of its own. It is so remarkable that it has become one of the
world’s most cherished jewels. But did you know that the Black
Prince’s Ruby really isn’t a ruby at all? It’s actually a spinel,
and it has a long and fascinating history.

The gem’s first known owner was Abu Said, a Moorish prince of
Granada in Spain in the mid-1300s. Abu Said lost the gem, as well
as his crown and his life, to Don Pedro the Cruel of Seville. In
1366 Don Pedro’s own brother attacked him in turn, but Don Pedro
successfully defended himself with help from the armies of the
Black Prince of Bordeaux. As payment, the Black Prince demanded
Don Pedro’s prize jewel, and Don Pedro was in no position to
argue.

How the Black Prince’s Ruby came to England is unknown, but it
made its next historical appearance in a jeweled helmet worn by
the English king, Henry V, at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The
helmet saved Henry’s life when a blow from the battleaxe of the
French duke of Alencon nearly destroyed it. Both the king and the
helmet miraculously survived the war, and the Black Prince’s Ruby
remained in English hands.

Later, King James the First had the gem set into the state
crown, and, despite many threats of theft, fire, and even Nazi
bombs, over the centuries the Black Prince’s Ruby has remained the
magnificent centerpiece of the British royal regalia.

While the Black Prince’s Ruby is by far the world’s most famous
red spinel, it is definitely not the only one ever possessed or
coveted by kings, queens, and emperors. The Timur Ruby, also in
the Crown Jewels of England, is even larger, weighing 361 carats,
or more than 70 grams. It is inscribed with the names of six of
its former owners. The Kremlin Museum in Moscow has another giant
gem that probably belonged to the Tsar; this one weighs 414
carats.

The most dazzling collection of fine red spinels is found in the
Crown Jewels of Iran. The majority were plundered from India when
the Mogul Empire fell. The largest one weighs about 500 carats,
and it is indeed the biggest on record. Many others weigh over
100 carats, and more than a dozen have been carved with the name
of Jahangir, a Mogul emperor over 350 years ago.

Once you have seen a fine red spinel, you will easily understand
why ancient royalty esteemed it as much as ruby, and sometimes
even more. Top quality red spinels and rubies have superb pure red
colors, and they actually fluoresce, or glow, in natural light.
These similarities led to some confusion in early history when
people classified gems only by their colors. They called all blue
gems sapphires, all green gems emeralds, and all red gems rubies;
spinels were called “Balas rubies,” after a region in northern
India known as Balascia, where they were first reportedly mined.

Later, when people learned that gems of the same color are not
necessarily the same kind of material, they still had difficulty
separating red spinel and ruby. Not only do the two gems have the
same color and fluorescence, but they are often found together in
the same mines, and ruby’s physical properties are very similar to
spinel’s; ruby is only slightly more dense and slightly harder.
(Spinel is actually as hard or harder than emerald, topaz, quartz,
and all but five other natural minerals.)

Despite its fame in the ancient world, red spinel has never been
as abundant as ruby, and today it is quite difficult to find. The
old mines in Afghanistan that produced so many of the giant stones
in the Moguls’ collections seem to have been worked out, and the
gem gravels of Sri Lanka and Africa, which give up many beautiful
pastel colored spinels, only rarely contain gems with the pure
intense red color of the Black Prince’s Ruby.

Now only the famous mines of Mogok, Burma, hold substantial
quantities of fine red spinels. Jealously guarded by the Burmese
kings until 1885, controlled by a monopoly under the British
Empire, and then nationalized by a socialist government in 1962,
Mogok’s mines have scarcely had a chance to live up to their
potential. While a few beautiful red gems have been smuggled out
through the gauntlet of jungle, opium warlords, rebels, and
soldiers that makes up the Burmese hinterland, these exquisite
gems have only been able to offer enticing hints of the sumptuous
jewels that must still lie hidden in the mountains of Mogok. No
one really knows how many gems remain there undiscovered, but
perhaps there is still one that will rival even the Black Prince’s
Ruby and remind us all of the days when kings and emperors held
sway over vast domains and counted their wealth by the natural
beauty that they owned.

orchid@ganoksin.com

procedures

Okay ,so it is probably a given that you wont be able to buy a gem like
this today. BUT, if you are interested in pink/mauve/purple spinel, it
is now available in respectable quantity at a very reasonable price
( i.e. $ 15 - 50 per ct). The pinks look like medium intense pink
sapphire, and the purplish tones are just exquisite. This material is
from a new Vietnamese mine, I just returned with a few hundred carats.