Spinel, Sri Lanka
Abundant, attractive, affordable and colourful spinels are available in red, pink and blue colour and can occasionally exhibit asterism and chatoyancy. Spinel is a gemstone found in great abundance in Sri Lanka and until the rise of modern gemology in the 19th and 20th Century spinels were often mistakenly identified as Corundums, as they were mostly found in the same mine. Subsequent research into the mineral composition of these two gem families led to their separation and many gem enthusiasts finding that their beloved rubies and sapphires are in fact spinels.
Natural spinel, however, has always been a rare and beautiful gem. Sri Lanka is the second largest supplier of spinel to the global gem and jewellery market with colours ranging from ruby red, pink, orange, shades of reddish-brown, purple, blue, bluish-green, mauve, greenish-black, black to colourless. The occurrence of natural blue spinel coloured by cobalt has been found in Sri Lanka. Cobalt spinel has been found around Ratnapura, Okkampitiya and Embilipitiya. Apart from the common varieties of spinel are also varieties identified as Ceylonite, Gahnite and Ghanospinel.