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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


Oval-cut pink spinel weighing 16.79 ct.
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10630-00
Locality Tajikistan
Weight 16.79 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 beautiful 16.79ct orangey-pink spinel is from Tajikistan and is the first spinel from that historic locality in the National Gem Collection.


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