She is the spinel.
If you search for spinels on Etsy, you'll mostly find them in black; however, the saturated colours, with an absence of grey and brown tones, are the sashaying stars! Writing in the New York Times T Magazine, Maria Doulton lauds "its strangely beautiful colours that range from a misty grey from Sri Lanka, hot red from Tanzania and velvety lilac from Tajikistan."
Luxury jewelers have lept on such hues. Below, a cluster ring of red, pink, purple, blue, orange and green flaunts the spinel spectrum. (Price, $6, 600 from First Dibs dealer L. Frank.)
gold safety pin with five candy pink spinels (Price, $4, 800. Do not faint, that's a luxury jeweler.):
ring from Etsy seller WireReform; price, $72. (The spinel is the largest stone.)
Prices for quality spinels are considerably less than ruby or sapphire, but not inexpensive, because supply is limited. They are durable (8 on the Mohs Scale, just below ruby and sapphire), and virtually never treated to enhance colour. (If any stone is treated, the seller should disclose that.)
Top-quality red spinel is difficult to distinguish visually from ruby, and offers more brilliance; who wouldn't enjoy that? The famous "Black Prince's Ruby" in Britain's Imperial State Crown was found, once sophisticated analysis was possible, to be a spinel. Synthetic spinel is common as dirt (remember the old high school class rings?) and should cost as much.
Spinel is fantastic for a reno project; for example, to replace a chipped stone whose setting you still love. Or imagine a spinel pendant that transforms a simple strand of pearls. I also suggest spinels for a channel-set eternity band or stacking ring.
Oh, and if you want the sleek depth of black spinel, why not combine that with Tahitian pearls? Renée Garvey Tahitian pearl (10mm) and black spinel earrings, with a frisky silk tassel, are $304 at Twist and I must say that price is most tempting.
So, what do these babies cost? A finished piece's price varies dramatically based on other factors. Let's say, though, that you would like a ring or pendant, set with one stunning stone.
Here are some examples from Bangkok-based gem dealer AJS Gem; prices are in $US and do not include shipping. (I have never dealt with this firm; however, they offer a 14-day full refund policy.)
1. 1.15ct cushion cut, $699
2. 1.03ct blue pear cut, $798
3. 1.46ct orange round, $328
3. 1.66ct rectangle, $525
If you prefer your jeweler to source stones, he or she can contact a knowledgeable dealer such as such as Pierres de Charme. (Full disclosure: I work part time for this company.) I can vouch for their service and integrity; if they say "unheated" it is. Here's a peek at their extraordinary spinels, which I've seen in person, and they are gorgeous.
As with any gem, you (or your jeweler) will assess cut, polish and symmetry, but really, a beautiful stone will be evident: just take your pulse.
But secrets have a way of getting out! The most recent post on RubyFair, a fairtrade gem site's blog, the headline was "Spinel Set to be Star of 2016". Well, it's early in the year, honeybunches. Shake out that piggy bank now and enjoy a spinel for many, many years to come.