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There is historical confusion between spinel and corundum (ruby and pink sapphire) because these two gemstones have many similarities, not just their appearance. Both owe their red color to trace impurities of chromium and form when impure limestone is altered by heat and pressure, and they commonly are found side by side. Many of the world's most famous "rubies" are in fact red spinels. Pure spinel is colorless, but impurities give rise to a range of colors, most typically pink or red, but also purple, green and blue. The major sources of spinel gemstones are Burma, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Other significant occurrences are Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Russia. This pink spinel is from a new find in Tanzania, and it is the only spinel from that locality in the National Gem Collection to date.

Image Number: Ken Larsen
Catalog Number: G10558
Weight: 5.78 carats
Gift of Joseph and Regina Gil , 2007


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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Mineral Sciences website Credits