Spinel SourcesSpinel Sources

Spinel Specialist Mini Course

Spinel Sources

spinel sources - Mogok, Myanmar
Mogok, Myanmar is a famous source of spinel gemstones. Photo by Ge-No/shutterstock.com.

Historical Spinel Sources

Most gem-quality spinel forms in regions with magnesium-rich limestone transformed into dolomite marble through metamorphic activity. Fortunately for gem enthusiasts, many locations meet the conditions for spinel formation.

Perhaps the most famous and historically important spinel sources are mines in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Myanmar. These locations have produced spinel gems of many colors for centuries and remain productive today.

Sri Lanka

This island is one of the world’s most important producers of many different gemstone species, including spinels. Much of the spinel from Sri Lanka is found in alluvial deposits rather than primary stone.

spinels - Sri Lanka
Spinels in various colors, 5.55 ctw, Sri Lanka. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Jasper52.

Sri Lankan spinel can occur in many colors, including red, purple, and greenish blue. The Ratnapura region produces a highly saturated electric blue color caused by a combination of cobalt and iron.

cobalt-blue spinel - Sri Lanka
Square cushion-cut, cobalt-blue spinel, 2.86 cts, 8.38 x 7.45 mm, Sri Lanka. © Rob Lavinsky, mineralauctions.com. Used with permission.


The Badakhshan region, which now lies partly in Afghanistan, is likely the source of one of the

Emily Frontiere

Emily Frontiere is a GIA Graduate Gemologist. She is particularly experienced working with estate/antique jewelry.

Never Stop Learning

When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.

Become a Member

Get Gemology Insights

Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!