Antique Genuine Natural Russian One-Half Carat Faceted, Handcrafted Vibrant, Intense Padparadsha Red-Orange Heart Cut Semi-Precious Spinel Gemstone.
CLASSIFICATION: Faceted Red Spinel Heart.
ORIGIN: Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia. 19th Century.
SIZE: Length: 5mm. Width: 5mm. Depth: 3mm. All measurements approximate.
WEIGHT: 0.51 carats.
NOTES: Upon request we can set your gemstones as a ring, pendant, or as earrings (click here for more information).
DETAIL: Often mistaken for ruby or sapphire in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, many of the so-called "rubies" and “sapphires” in Europe's crown jewels are actually spinel. The most famous is the Black Prince's "Ruby", a magnificent 170-carat red spinel that currently adorns the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels. Long believed to be a ruby, this gem was once owned by the Arabian Emirs, who were the rulers of Granada (present-day Spain). Another of history’s most famous gemstones is a spinel known as the “Timur Ruby”, a 352-carat red spinel named after Tamerlane, who came to possess the gemstone as a result of his plunder of Delhi, and ordered that his name be carved upon it. Now owned by Queen Elizabeth, the gemstone has the names of some of the Mughal emperors who previously owned it engraved on its face.
Looking like a very flashy, sparkly, radiant bright red intensely hued ruby or padparadsha (red-orange) sapphire, one instantly knows it is not merely tourmaline or garnet due to the tremendous brilliance and flash of the gemstone. Is it corundum; sapphire or ruby? It has all the fire and sparkle of a precious gemstone. Actually if you were able to examine the crown jewels of the royal families of Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Europe from England to Russia, you would find many fabulous examples of this gemstone. And had you been able to ask the actual owners of these gemstone, royalty all, or their royal jewelers as to the identity of this stone, they would have answered ruby or sapphire – corundum. But history would prove them wrong, as many of the greatest, most massive, and most valuable rubies and sapphires in the crown jewels of Europe’s royalty were…spinel.
With nearly the same hardness as corundum, and similar flash and brilliance (refractive index), it has been mistaken for rubies, sapphires, and other precious gemstones for centuries. This very intensely colored and brilliant gemstone shares this heritage. Mined in Chelyabinsk Oblast (county), Russia, the gemstone was hand crafted and faceted by a 19th century Russian artisan, part of an heritage renown for the production of the elaborate gemstones and jewelry of the Czars of Medieval, Renaissance, and Victorian Russia. The faceted cut is a heart-shape, a quite popular cut in Victorian Europe. The result is an exquisite and incredibly rich bright red-orange (“padparadsha”) colored gemstone with brilliant flashes. It truly has all the flash and brilliance of a ruby or padparadsha sapphire.
In fact though much more flashy than all but the highest quality rubies, it is probably going to be most often mistaken for ruby should you be the lucky owner of this amazing gemstone. And this is absolutely the perfect blindingly brilliant red gemstone heart! Talk about a great gift to express your love for another, this is perfect. Spinel, like the rubies and sapphires it is so often mistaken for, is noted for being a rather “dirty” gemstone, much like emeralds and tourmaline as well. However this specimen is no worse than eye clean, and even in the accompanying photo enlargements here it is difficult to discern any significant blemishes. To the naked eye it is without flaw, richly hued, and alive with sparkles.
Good quality spinel is in extremely short supply, especially such clean specimens, and can be very costly. This is at the present time one of only a handful of specimens we have to offer. Even at the source in Chelyabinsk, Russia, it is a quite uncommon and fairly scarce gemstone. Under magnification the gemstone shows the unmistakable characteristics of having been hand crafted. The coarseness of the 19th century finish is considered appealing to most gemstone collectors, and is not considered a detriment, or detract from the value of a gemstone. These characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, most serious collectors consider such gemstones more desirable, possessed of greater character and uniqueness when compared to today's cookie-cutter mass-produced machine-faceted gemstones. Unlike today’s computer controlled machine produced gemstones that approach flawlessness in a perfect finish, the cut and finish of a handcrafted gemstone such as this is the legacy of an artisan who lived two centuries ago.
This gemstone has great luster and sparkle, and to the eye is completely transparent and clean to the eye, but it is not absolutely flawless. True, the blemishes it possesses are not visible to the naked eye, and the gemstone can be characterized, to use trade jargon, as "eye clean". Even to close scrutiny (with the naked eye) it is indeed without blemish. However magnified as it is here you might be able to pick out one or two minute blemishes within the gemstone, barely perceptible even at such high magnification, and as well occasional irregularities in the faceting and finish. Naturally these characteristics are not only expected of hand-finished gemstones, you must also consider that two centuries ago the mining techniques even theoretically possible, let alone commonly practiced, did not allow the ultra deep mining operations which are so commonplace today.
Two centuries ago mankind was more or less limited to surface deposits or near surface deposits of gemstones. Higher quality gemstones which today are routinely mined from beneath hundreds of meters, even kilometers beneath the earth's surface, were simply inaccessible then. This is why antique gemstones must be appreciated as antiques first, gemstones second. The relatively superlative quality of contemporary gemstones routinely mined from deep beneath the earth's surface today were simply not accessible two centuries ago, or at least, only rarely so. However for most, the unique nature and character of these antique gemstones more than makes up for minute blemishes found within the gemstones, as well as the cutting and faceting irregularities common to antique, handcrafted gemstones, all of which are by and large (if at all) only visible under magnification.
HISTORY OF SPINEL: The name “spinel” is probably derived from the Latin word “spinella”, itself derived from the Greek work meaning “spark”, probably in reference to the bright red or orange color of some crystals. Mariners as early as the 11th century knew spinel as “lodestone”, which literally means “way stone”. Due to the unique magnetic properties of spinel, it literally “found the way” for ancient mariners as it was used to magnetize the compasses which they used to guide their ship's course at sea. This also saw the beginning of the art of cartography, as seaman began to plot the courses of their voyages and create the earliest maps of the world. One early known use of spinel was from about 100 B.C. in a Buddhist tomb in Afghanistan. There are also references to spinel in ancient Sanskrit texts, which referred to spinel as “the daughter of ruby”. Spinel was also extensively was used in jewelry by the Romans.
Spinel comes in a wide variety of beautiful colors and is especially prized for its red, blue, pink, and purple varieties. The red variety has oftentimes been mistaken for ruby, and many of the so-called “rubies” in Europe’s crown jewels are actually spinel. The most famous is the Black Prince's “Ruby”, a magnificent 170-carat red spinel that currently adorns the Imperial State Crown in the British Crown Jewels. Long believed to be a ruby, this gem was once owned by the Arabian Emirs, who were the rulers of Granada (present-day Spain). In the 14th century, Pedro the Cruel, the king of Castile, under the pretext of negotiations, drew into ambush the Emir Abu Said and ruthlessly murdered him and took the gemstone. The gemstone was given to England’s Edward the Black Prince, heir to the British throne, in return for military service putting down an insurrection raised against Pedro the Cruel. King Henry V then wore the gemstone on his battle helmet during the battle of Azincourt in 1415 A.D. King Richard III of England, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, wore the same helmet during the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 A.D., where he was killed.
The Timur Ruby is a 352-carat red spinel named after Tamerlain, the Tartar conqueror who came to possess the gemstone as a result of his plunder of Delhi, and ordered that his name be carved upon it. The gemstone eventually returned to India, where it was incorporated into the famous “Peacock Throne”, which was subsequently brought back to Persia in 1739 by the conqueror Nader Shah. When Nader Shah was assassinated in 1747, the Peacock Throne itself disappeared from historical records (presumably disassembled), though the magnificent spinel which was its centerpiece survived. Now owned by Queen Elizabeth, the gemstone has the names of some of the Mughal emperors who previously owned it engraved on its face. Another noteworthy faceted red spinel of more than 400 carats belonged to Empress Catherine II of Russia, and is now part of the Russian Treasure in the Kremlin. Nicholas Spafary, the Russian envoy to China, bought this gemstone for Tsar Alexis I of Russia. He purchased it from a high-ranking Chinese official and secretly took it out, as in China it was forbidden to sell “rubies” to the foreigners, as they must only belong to the Emperor.
The Samarian Spinel is the world’s largest spinel weighing 500 carats, and is part of the Iranian Crown Jewels, displayed at the Museum of the Treasury of National Iranian Jewels. According to legend the gemstone once adorned the Biblical Golden Calf, mentioned in Exodus 32. The Hebrews escaping from Egypt in the 13th century B.C. asked Aaron, the brother of Moses to fashion a golden calf, an idol that was then worshipped by the ancient Hebrews. Moses later came down from the Sinai carrying with him the tablets containing the ten commandments, and upon seeing his people worshipping the golden calf, ordered its destruction. However, the worship of the Golden Calf continued up to the 10th century B.C. till the age of Jeroboam I, King of Israel.
In the ancient world red spinel was also known as a “Balas Ruby”, and was mined in Northwest Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and traded throughout China and Europe. Although history does not document the mining of spinel in Afghanistan until about 750 A.D., it is likely the source for the spinel of the Romans and the rest of the classical Mediterranean. Marco Polo mentioned the famous “Badakhshan” mine which produced this gemstone, describing the gemstone as “Balas Ruby”. The name for Badakhshan in the ancient world was “Balascia”, from which the name “Balas Ruby” was born. Though spinel is presently less expensive than ruby, it is many times more rare. And despite all of the confusion in Europe over what was spinel and what was ruby, in Burma where both gemstones have been mined for many centuries, spinel was recognized as a separate gem species as early as 1587 A.D.
However in Europe, confusion lasted for many centuries after that, red spinel still referred to as “Balas Ruby” or “Oriental Ruby” for several more centuries. As well, blue, pink, and purple spinel was oftentimes mistaken for sapphire. In Chelyabinsk, Russia, the origin of this gemstone, spinel has been produced continuously from a nearby deposit since 1843 A.D. Now treasured for its own sake, spinel is a favorite of gem dealers and gem collectors due to its brilliance, hardness and wide range of spectacular colors. Red and orange spinel owes its color to chromium, violet to manganese, and to iron or cobalt for the very rare blue variety of spinel. In addition to Burma and Russia, spinel has historically also been produced in Ceylon, and has recently been discovered in Tanzania (home of tanzanite).
Throughout the history of the ancient world, gemstones were believed capable of curing illness and providing protection. Found in Egypt dated 1500 B. C., the "Papyrus Ebers" offered one of most complete therapeutic manuscripts containing prescriptions using gemstones and minerals. Gemstones were not only valued for their medicinal and protective properties, but also for educational and spiritual enhancement. In the ancient world spinel was associated with love, was worn as a protective talisman, and was said to help the wearer resolve contentious issues, to put their ego aside, and become devoted to another person. Spinel also was believed to encourage passion and is said to increase the duration of the wearer’s life, and was also said effective in relieving sadness.
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We do NOT recommend uninsured shipments, and expressly disclaim any responsibility for the loss of an uninsured shipment. Unfortunately the contents of parcels are easily “lost” or misdelivered by postal employees – even in the USA. If you intend to pay via PayPal, please be aware that PayPal Protection Policies REQUIRE insured, trackable shipments, which is INCLUDED in our price. International tracking is at additional cost. We do offer U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail, Registered Mail, and Express Mail for both international and domestic shipments, as well United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (Fed-Ex). Please ask for a rate quotation. We will accept whatever payment method you are most comfortable with. If upon receipt of the item you are disappointed for any reason whatever, I offer a no questions asked return policy. Send it back, I will give you a complete refund of the purchase price (less our original shipping costs).
We travel to Russia each year seeking antique gemstones and jewelry from one of the globe’s most prolific gemstone producing and cutting centers, the area between Chelyabinsk and Yekaterinburg, Russia. From all corners of Siberia, as well as from India, Ceylon, Burma and Siam, gemstones have for centuries gone to Yekaterinburg where they have been cut and incorporated into the fabulous jewelry for which the Czars and the royal families of Europe were famous for. My wife grew up and received a university education in the Southern Urals of Russia, just a few hours away from the mountains of Siberia, where alexandrite, diamond, emerald, sapphire, chrysoberyl, topaz, demantoid garnet, and many other rare and precious gemstones are produced. Though perhaps difficult to find in the USA, antique gemstones are commonly unmounted from old, broken settings – the gold reused – the gemstones recut and reset.
Before these gorgeous antique gemstones are recut, we try to acquire the best of them in their original, antique, hand-finished state – most of them centuries old. We believe that the work created by these long-gone master artisans is worth protecting and preserving rather than destroying this heritage of antique gemstones by recutting the original work out of existence. That by preserving their work, in a sense, we are preserving their lives and the legacy they left for modern times. Far better to appreciate their craft than to destroy it with modern cutting. Not everyone agrees – fully 95% or more of the antique gemstones which come into these marketplaces are recut, and the heritage of the past lost. But if you agree with us that the past is worth protecting, and that past lives and the produce of those lives still matters today, consider buying an antique, hand cut, natural gemstone rather than one of the mass-produced machine cut (often synthetic or “lab produced”) gemstones which dominate the market today.
Our interest in the fabulous history of Russian gemstones and the fabulous jewelry of the Czar’s led to further education and contacts in India, Ceylon, and Siam, other ancient centers of gemstone production and finishing. We have a number of “helpers” (family members, friends, and colleagues) in Russia and in India who act as eyes and ears for us year-round, and in reciprocity we donate a portion of our revenues to support educational institutions in Russia and India. Occasionally while in Russia, India, Siam, and Ceylon we will also find such good buys on unique contemporary gemstones and jewelry that we will purchase a few pieces to offer to our customers here in America. These are always offered clearly labeled as contemporary, and not antiques – just to avoid confusion. We can set most any antique gemstone you purchase from us in your choice of styles and metals ranging from rings to pendants to earrings and bracelets; in sterling silver, 14kt solid gold, and 14kt gold fill. When you purchase from us, you can count on quick shipping and careful, secure packaging. We would be happy to provide you with a certificate/guarantee of authenticity for any item you purchase from me. There is a $2 fee for mailing under separate cover. Please see our "ADDITIONAL TERMS OF SALE."