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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Spinel

In 2007, several large spinel crystals were found near the town of Mahenge, Tanzania. What makes this material special is the highly saturated pinkish-red color. This gem is not only rare due to its color and locality, but also because of its large size.
Photo by Greg Polley. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G11667-00
Weight 10.19 ct

Purchased with funds from the Smithsonian Gem and Mineral Collectors in 2017.

In 2007, several large spinel crystals were found near the town of Mahenge, in Tanzania. What makes this material special is the highly saturated pink-red color. The color is quite pure, without the grey or brown secondary hues commonly found in spinel. The Mahenge spinel seems to possess an inner glow even under low light conditions that makes it entirely unique. Colors range from a slightly orangey pink to vivid pinkish red to cherry red. Most of the Mahenge spinels in the market are small in size, exhibit superb clarity, and are untreated. Though miners have searched extensively in the Mahenge area for more of this rare material, it appears to have been a one-time find. This 10.19ct spinel, set in a platinum ring with a diamond halo, exhibits the intense pink-red color and exceptional clarity attributed to this locality. It is also large in size, and the first spinel from Tanzania for the National Gem Collection.

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