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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History


This suite of 32 round cut spinels from Vietnam is a major upgrade for the National Gem Collection and represents the range of available colors, from lilac to purple to blue and pink to peach and orange, from this locality.
Photo by Greg Polley. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G11463-00
Locality Vietnam

Gift of Smithsonian Gem and Mineral Collectors in 2013.

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 suite consists of 32 round brilliant cut spinels that range from 0.60ct to 4.60ct, having a total weight of 57.71cts. These spinels are from an important find in Vietnam. This well-cut suite exhibits the beautiful colors of Vietnamese spinels ranging from lilac to purple to blue and pink to peach. These gems are a nice representation of spinels from Vietnam and an important addition to the National Gem Collection.



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