Head of Department, UK
Sold for £44,000 inc. premium
Submit your item online for a free auction estimate.How to sell
Our Jewellery specialists can help you find a similar item at an auction or via a private sale.Find your local specialist
Head of Department, UK
Accompanied by a report from SSEF stating that the spinel is of natural Tajikistan origin with no indications of treatment. Report number 119150, dated 25th October 2021.
Accompanied by an Appendix letter from SSEF stating that the spinel possesses extraordinary characteristics and merits special mention and appreciation. It goes on to state that a natural spinel from Tajikistan of this size and quality can be considered rare and exceptional. Numbered 119150, dated 25th October 2021.
Accompanied by a report from GCS stating that the spinel is of natural Tajikistan origin with no indications of heat treatment. Report number 81309-54, dated 25th May 2021.
"There is also.. an other kynde of Rubies which wee caule Spinelle"
Richard Eden, the 16th century alchemist, in 1555
Until 1783, red and pink spinels were mistaken for rubies because they are chemically similar. Even after fine pink gems were known to be spinels they were still referred to as "balas" or "balais" rubies. The term "balas" derives from an ancient word for Badakhshan, a province north of Afghanistan on the border with Tajikistan, where important spinel specimens were anciently mined. These Kuh-i-Lal ('red mountain') mines were the world's main source of large spinels from the 1st century AD. Marco Polo (c.1254–1324) described how "fine and valuable balas rubies" were dug only for the King, who owned the entire supply, which he sent to other kings as tributes or as "friendly presents".
Mughal emperors and their ancestors, the Timurids, valued large Kuh-i-Lal spinels for their beauty and as protective talismans. The gems were polished rather than cut and were often inscribed with the names of rulers and monarchs as a way of commemoration. The Carew Spinel, in the collection of the V&A in London, is inscribed with the names of Emperors Jahangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. Spectacular Mughal spinels which entered Persian, Russian and European royal treasuries include the "Black Prince's Ruby": a large uncut red spinel, it was given to the Black Prince by Pedro the Cruel in 1367, worn by Henry V in his helmet at the Battle of Agincourt and is now set in the Imperial State Crown in the British crown jewels. The 361-carat "Timur Ruby", also in the British crown jewels, was owned by Sultan Sahib Qiran and Ranjit Singh, the "Lion of the Punjab". A huge polished spinel decorates the Imperial Crown of Russia, made for the coronation of Catherine the Great in 1762.
During the 19th century, spinels were cut according to European ideals to best exploit their fine rose hue and transparency. Important spinels mounted during the 19th century include The Hope Spinel, weighing 50.13 carats and sold at Bonhams, New Bond Street in September 2015, the "ruby" jewels of Queen Therese in the Munich Treasury and the "Bagration" jewels, now in the collection of the Duke of Westminster.