Spinels: Scale of Gray

I started this blog talking about gray gemstones. When I started my search, I kept coming up empty with what I wanted, until a gemstone that was pretty under appreciated came to my attention – gray spinel. But there wasn’t really any out there.

It turns out that people are reluctant to cut a gray gemstone, because everyone wants bright highly saturated gemstones.

These are some of the stones that were bought (and some since sold) in my quest for exactly what I wanted. One note about gray spinels is that they are incredibly difficult to photograph. They are very temperamental and reflect everything in their environment, and as a result, they are exceptionally problematic to photograph.

The Scale of Gray (SOG) is a scale of 1-10, with one being colorless and 10 being black. The idea for this was based on the art and graphic design principle of grayscale: Wiki article on Grayscale

grayscale (1)
Image taken from google image search)

These two spinels are almost colorless. Spinel is typically not colorless and almost always has a modifier of some other color. To be colorless, spinel cannot have impurities. These spinels are so close to colorless that I cannot discern a modifier in them. I consider these stones a 1 on my Scale of Gray. The round stone looks darker here than it is in real life. I will attempt to get a better picture of it and replace it at some point in time.

Round stone: Artistic Colored Stones
Pear Recut: Gemart Services
Grey 1b

This spinel is a very slightly silvery gray, so much so that it’s almost imperceptible unless the stone is on a white background. It can appear colorless at times, especially when in a bright lighting situation. I consider it a 2 on the SOG.

This stone is deep enough in tone so that the gray color is apparent even when the stone is on a colored background, such as skin, as seen in this picture. This stone can appear to look colorless in certain lighting conditions. I consider this stone a 3 on the SOG. Round: Jeffery Davies Gems & Jewelry
Grey 3

This stone is what I consider a 4 on the SOG. It is definitely gray in most lighting situations and never appears colorless. Sometimes it can look lighter gray and sometimes it can appear a darker gray, but only blacks out under bright direct sunlight. Round: Julia B Jewelry
Grey 4 (2)

I consider the following stone a 5 on the SOG. Sometimes it appears to be a lighter gray, and sometimes it appears to be darker, but the body color is a clear medium gray. Round stone: Artistic Colored Stones
Grey 5

This asscher cut from Ryan Quantz is finally being added to the the line up as a 6.  This stone always appears gray, sometimes can appear silvery when the pavilion facets reflect light, and sometimes can appear black in very low lighting situations.

This stone is what I would consider a 7 on the SOG. It often appears darker gray and never appears colorless. Sometimes the facets reflect light, making it appear medium gray, but overall, this gray color is always going to appear to be darker.

This spinel is an 8. It’s body color is decidedly dark, and unless it is in very bright lighting situations, it will appear to be very dark or black.

I consider this stone to be an 8.5 on the SOG. It is a darker gray, often appearing to be black, and when it does not appear black, looks very dark gray, and may have a lighter flash move across the pavilion facets. Cushion: Gemcal

I consider this stone a 9 on the SOG. The majority of the time, it appears to be black, and only sometimes appears to be gray, typically with sparks of color. Black is considered the absence of light, so I cannot in good faith call this “black” because light travels through it to some extent. Cushion: Custom Gemstones
Grey 9

I feel as though there has been an increase in popularity in gray spinels, which is great and terrible, all at the same time. I think it’s wonderful that people are giving attention to a neglected color, but at the same time, they are driving up demand, and as a result, prices.

I am constantly on the lookout for these underappreciated gemstones. Nothing really makes me quite as happy as an amazing gray spinel!

Colorless Garnet

I am not a garnet girl. I think they are beautiful but the range of colors hasn’t exactly captured my heart the way that other stone varieties have. Now, that being said, I own a few of the lesser known varieties.

Before I really got into gems, I was in the dark, like most other people, and thought that garnets only came in that orangey red color that seems to be prevalent in the mall jewelry stores. So the first time I saw a tsavorite, I was absolutely blown away. Who knew that garnets could come in green?!

Right now, I have a few darker mint garnets/tsavorites, a smaller mint from the Merelani Hills, an orange Loliondo Spessartite and a very light buttery yellow grossular garnet in my possession. Eventually I would like to add a more purple-pink (likely Rhodolite) garnet, as well as a light pink/peach (Malaya/Malaia) to my repertoire.



Garnets come in a variety of colors, from the browns to yellows, to purples, pinks and reds, plus some of the most vibrant and saturated greens and oranges in the gemstone world. Garnets can do some color shifting as well, the most pleasing is usually between blue and purple colorways. Colorless happens to be one of the most rare colors, and due to garnet’s dispersion, one of the most beautiful and diamond like. These are commonly called leuco garnets.




Which brings me to my current conundrum, because it’s the dispersion and the colorless bit that’s giving me pause in the case of the current very light yellow situation. I had been interested in a darker yellow round garnet and had started visualizing designs for a pendant for an existing chain, but the seller decided against selling it before I could pull the trigger. The light oval is more expensive, roughly two times as much as the round, as it is lighter in tone and therefore more valuable.


In this last photo, there is a distinct dark stripe through the center of the stone. This is commonly called a “bowtie” and is a relatively common cut flaw with pear, oval, elongated cushions and marquise cut stones. Having said that, because this stone was cut by the super talented John Dyer, the bowtie that appears in the photo is actually a reflection of the camera lens. You can see on the bottom right of the stone, there is a brown splotchy patch – that is reflecting my skin. However, that little purple-looking facet on the right side is some of that dispersion I was talking about. Part of the problem with photographing gemstones is eliminating environmental factors, including the camera because the facets reflect everything, just like tiny mirrors.

If I do end up keeping this stone, I would put it in a fancy yellow diamond halo (but never plain and hugging the outline of the stone), in yellow gold, and attach it to my existing Italian yellow gold chain. No matter what, the project will need more thought and planning, as the chain has significant sentimental value to me.

More colored garnets to come!