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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


Oval-cut blue spinel weighing 14.02 ct.
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10629-00
Locality Sri Lanka
Weight 14.02 ct

Purchased with funds from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation in 2009.

Pure spinel is colorless, but impurities give rise to a range of colors, most typically pink or red, but also purple, green and blue. Spinel is a magnesium aluminum oxide and forms when impure limestone is altered by heat and pressure. They are commonly found in occurrence with corundum (ruby and sapphire) and have historically been confused with each other due to their many similarities. Both minerals are hard, yield durable gems, and form in a range of colors. The major sources of spinel gemstones are Burma, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Other significant occurrences are Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Russia. This 14.02ct spinel from Sri Lanka is exceptional for its intense blue color. The size, color, and rarity of this gem make it a wonderful addition to the National Gem Collection.


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