It was not so long ago; that I was buying blue spinel for as little as 180.00 a carat. But those days are over. They have gone up 5 to 10 X that price in 1 year. They are currently 1000.00 to 2500.00 per carat for high quality material, especially when over 3carats and they go up considerably at 5 carat, 7 carat and 10 carat benchmarks.I am lucky I was an aggressive blue spinel buyer. I did not intend on being a hoarder of blue spinel. But, I can tell you how and why it happened. Also, I can let you in on how we accumulated such a great collection.
I love the color blue. Maybe my Aquarius birthdate has influenced my choice of color. Maybe it was growing up in the blue jean generation. I don't know, but the color blue just makes me feel good and is the most pleasurable color to my eye. Maybe it is my Native American heritage; I love turquoise too.
When I started collecting gems I naturally migrated towards sapphires (with their vivid, royal and cornflower blues,) but I noticed most sapphires I could afford were an ugly dark blue that almost looked black or navy. I then discovered that only the most expensive sapphires are vivid royal blue. These stones with exotic names like, “Ceylon," and BLANK were indeed beautiful but they were priced in the thousands to tens of thousands of dollars a carat.
Then I discovered all of the treatments used to make 99% of them turn the shades of blue I loved so much were disturbing. They were heated by “burners,” who heated the stones to very near melting point to turn the ugly blue sapphires with heavy inclusions into bright blue, clear stones. Not to mention the treatments and coatings used on sapphire which when etected makes the sapphires virtually worthless. While, heating a sapphire is now common practice and acceptable by the industry the coatings and infusions to change the color are not.
Less than 5% of all vivid, blue sapphires are unheated and they go for a premium. I just mentally could not get over wearing a stone that had to be burned and scorched at hell-fire temperatures to become pretty and I could not get over the fact that in reality my sapphires were ugly old rocks manipulated by man to become overly expensive scorched rocks wearing a man made disguise. I still love Ceylon blue sapphire, but my true love is blue spinel. I fell in love with the first unheated and untreated vivid blue 7 carat stone I bought. Spinel is found in exotic locales around the Spinel
world and it is thousands of times more rare than sapphires and diamonds and of the spinel family blue spinel is the rarest of all.
are found encased in white marble boulders which are usually rolled down a bluff or mountain and extracted in very primitive ways without modern equipment. It is quite a sight to see the miners rolling the boulders downhill trying not to get crushed by their load which often gets out of hand and careens downhill causing their transporters to scramble and bolt to keep from being injured or killed.
When the boulder has descended and been transported they must carefully chip out the spinel. The boulders are usually chosen because of a hint of color on the outside which indicates it probably contains spinel. Getting the rough boulders to the men who chip out the gems, (if they are indeed inside,) is hard enough but trying to chip the stones out of the marble is also a grueling and laborious task.
When spinel are found they are either sold rough or mine cut in the area they are found. They usually require recutting to be quality stones. Also, there is the issue of the blue spinel’s color, because it can't be heated to make inferior color’s improve, nor will heating make an included stone clear, unlike sapphire which clears of many inclusions when heated slightly below the melting point. With spinel, Mother Earth has created a vibrant blue, transparent, stone and almost all blue stones like blue topaz, apatite, Paraiba tourmaline, tanzanite are all, “burned” or heated just to turn blue. paraiba tourmalines are actually pink/red in color and have to be heated to turn to blue.
Tanzanite (which is almost never blue when mined) was discovered only because they found a sample near a volcano. The Tanzanite you buy was most likely baked in an oven, not a volcano. Blue topaz (Swiss Blue, London Blue,) is bombed with radiation to make them blue! Even Aquamarine is heated! Heated, treated, burned, scorched, dyed, fried, irradiated, BLAH, give me spinel!
Spinel is rare because the planet almost never produces a natural blue transparent gem unless there is volcanic or thermal activity which would have to also take place directly on the source material for the stones to turn, “naturally blue,” and the temperature would have to be perfect for this transformation.
Remember when buying antique spinel, blue spinel was so cherished and rare that they created a man made blue spinel that still lurks on the market. Let the buyer beware! In an antique piece of jewelry smothered in platinum and
diamonds man-made spinel is still worth a lot, but new manmade material is practically worthless. Let the buyer beware. This is why Twisted South gives you 10 days to submit for GIA testing done if you want your gem certified if we have not already tested it.
Fine quality blue spinel is about 1,000's of times more rare than sapphire and diamond. In the diamond ads on TV you may have noticed they are not saying diamonds are “rare,” any longer, they now say, “diamonds are real.” What does that tell you? Walmart carries diamonds for Pete’s sake. It is hard to find a jewelry store that carries blue spinel, except for Tiffany and Harry Winston. They appear in the finest designer jewelry and they are elusive, like the snow leopard that dwells high in the mountains not far from where most spinel is mined.
Blue spinel is a geological unicorn and it is rare. It is truly, “natural,” unheated, untreated and true blue. They are real, really blue, made by mother earth and only discovered, liberated from their marble tombs, cut, polished, then cherished by man.
Please visit us at www.twistedsouth.com to see our collection of the finest blue spinel or to ask questions about blue spinel and see our rare stones, oddities and unique items for your home.