Burmese Spinel Gemstone

Before earning renown as a gem in its own right, Burmese spinel was often mistaken for other gems, such as rubies or amethyst.

Burmese spinel pendant with chain for women.Burmese spinel necklace in sterling silver.Burmese spinel and Welo opal hobo bracelet.Burmese spinel set of rings for women.

Spinel is a large group of minerals, with several gem varieties. It’s known as the “hidden gem,” for ancient cultures often confused brilliantly colored spinels for other gemstones such as ruby or amethyst. Before modern gemology, categorization of jewels occurred by color. Shop LC offers three breathtaking varieties of Burmese spinels – Burmese red spinel, Burmese lavender spinel, and Burmese platinum spinel.

What Color is Burmese Spinel?

Burmese red spinel has an attractive and deep red color, rivaling the ruby stones found in the same deposits. In particular, Myanmar (Burma) is well-known for its red and pink spinel. For centuries, they were confused for rubies. Now, they draw comparisons for their striking color.

Burmese lavender spinel, on the other hand, possesses a subtle and enchanting purple hue. It’s a cooler color not seen in other purple stones. Lavender spinel is an excellent option for a masculine purple gemstone.

Platinum spinel displays a rarely seen silver-gray gunmetal color. Extremely striking, this color is all natural. Platinum spinel receives no additional enhancement. The stone’s color occurs as a result of trace elements being present. The presence of chromium and iron create this scarcely seen color.

How Do I Care for Burmese Spinel?

Consider Burmese spinel if you want a gemstone to wear daily. The gem ranks eight on the Mohs scale of hardness, meaning it is suitably scratch-resistant. It also has a good durability and should survive the occasional bump with no problem. Red spinel stones are sometimes heat-treated to improve color. Platinum spinel undergoes no additional treatment. Normal jewelry care will keep stones sparkling, but it’s suggested to avoid chemical cleaners and long exposure to high heat or sunlight.

Why Should I Choose Burmese Spinel?

In general, spinels don’t occur in larger sizes. For the most part, stones above five carats are unusual, if not altogether rare. Burmese red spinels are a fun alternative to anyone who loves rubies and pyrope garnets, or even red andesine.

Consider choosing Burmese lavender spinel if you appreciate other purple gems such as amethyst, purple garnet, or purple fluorite. Its subtle hues add a light touch of color to light or dark palettes, and are a good option for anyone experimenting with using more color in their wardrobe.

Platinum spinel is a rising star in the gem world. It continues to grow in popularity with designers who appreciate its steely neutral tone. It’s a rare color that’s going to be questioned. Choose a platinum spinel if you can handle the attention this scarce stone creates!



Is Spinel a Birthstone?

• Spinel is the newest modern birthstone. An August birthstone, spinel became an official modern birthstone in 2016, joining peridot. Red and lavender spinel offer classic options for the tradition-minded, where platinum spinel is an excellent contemporary option.

• Existing as a “hidden gem,” spinel never gained an association with the tropical zodiac, and isn’t linked to any particular star sign.

• Spinel is also a traditional gift for the 22nd wedding anniversary.

What is a Balas Ruby?

• Spinels are uncommonly seen gemstones as their corundum cousins tend to steal the limelight. For ages, lapidarists were confusing spinel for better-known stones – especially ruby. For the most part, early gemological understanding is to blame. Before modern methods of identifying gemstones, the primary method relied on the gemstone’s color. This lead to many gemstones identifying as a single kind of stone. In particular, red spinel was a victim of this ignorance. For this reason, all red gemstones in ancient times were known as “Balas rubies.” It wasn’t until about the 18th century that understanding began to shift.

• These Balas rubies were named for the primary sourcing location during this time. The stones were mined in Ancient Balascia, now modern day Badakhshan, Afghanistan. It produced many of the most famous Balas rubies of the Medieval Period. Among Medieval lapidaries, Balas ruby was one of the three kinds of carbuncle, including true rubies and red garnets. It was common for texts of the time to use these terms interchangeably.

• Many famous “rubies” are in fact red spinels! For instance, the Black Prince’s Ruby is not a ruby at all. It is a large red spinel. The well-known gem dates back to the 14th century when it was given to the Black Prince himself, otherwise known as Edward of Woodstock. Today the giant gemstone sits prominently in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. It rests at the front of the crown. Besides its famous history, the Black Prince’s Ruby is notable for being the largest red spinel in the world. Its estimated weight is around 170 carats.



Location: Myanmar (Burma)

Spinels are rarely found in jewelry retail, as the gemstone is relatively unknown. However, the gem occurs in many locations around the world, and it’s found alongside corundum deposits of ruby and sapphire. The two stones share a similar composition.

Myanmar landscape.

Where is Burmese Spinel Found?

Spinels are rarely found in jewelry retail, as the gemstone is relatively unknown. However, the gem occurs in many locations around the world, and it’s found alongside corundum deposits of ruby and sapphire. The two stones share a similar composition.

Where is Burmese Spinel Found?

Shop LC sources Burmese spinel from Myanmar (Burma). It comes from the Mogok and Mong Hsu deposits. Both localities are well-known for their ruby production. Mogok, in particular, is famous for the quality of ruby gemstones that leave the mine.

How is Burmese Spinel Mined?

Mining Burmese spinel requires a combination of old and new techniques. The former Myanmar government previously introduced modern mining techniques to the country during their rule. These include earth-moving machines like bulldozers and high-pressure water cannons. Once the new democratic government took control of the country, many, if not most, of these techniques were abandoned in favor of traditional artisanal techniques. In modern times, most mining combines old and new methods in the pursuit of precious gemstones.

Like the more famous Burmese ruby, Burmese spinel occurs inside deposits of marble. Marble is very tough, so cutters are careful as they separate rough gemstones from the rock. Any mistakes are costly, potentially losing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in potential revenue. Spinel gemstones rarely reach larger sizes, and faceted stones of five carats or greater are extremely rare. For this reason, a lapidary will want to make sure every little bit counts.



  • Burmese spinel ranks eight on the Mohs scale of hardness.
  • Red spinels show a deeply saturated red, rivaling fine ruby. Lavender spinel displays subtle purple hues. Platinum spinel showcases a unique gunmetal gray.
  • Sourced from Myanmar (Burma).
  • Burmese red spinel is heat treated to improve its color. Platinum and lavender spinel undergo no additional treatment.
  • Burmese red spinel may incorrectly be known as “Balas ruby” or carbuncle.