Gemstone · Queen · Royalty

The Imposter in the Crown

Spinel is one of the most underrated and undervalued gemstones is Spinel.Quality Spinel is actually more rare than Ruby and Diamonds but is not promoted commercially by dealers and jewellers due to lack of supply.

It is therefore valued less than Ruby but is a favourite among gem connoisseurs and had started to close the price gap in recent years.


Until the 19th century development of gemology, spinel was thought to be ruby.

As a result, beautiful spinels, once thought to be rubies, now adorn a number of the most imperial Jewells and crowns around the world.


The Black Prince’s Ruby (a spinel once thought to be a ruby), is set in the the Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom and is one of the oldest parts of the Crown Jewells.

Black Prince’s Ruby originated in Tajikistan (Balas) and came into the possession of Abu Said of Granada (today Part of Spain, Morocco, Gibraltar).

In the 14th century Granada was attacked and invaded by the Castille (Spain/ Gibraltar) and as part of the overthrow by Castillian ruler Don Pedro of Seville (Also known as Peter of Castille), Abu Said was murdered ( reputedly by Don Pedro himself).

The Black Prince’s Ruby (spinel) then became the possession of Don Pedro.

In 1366 Don Pedro himself came under siege, as part of a revolt by his illegitimate Brother.

Unable to stage a defence alone, Don Pedro formed an alliance with Edward of Woodstock, (son of King Edward III) also known as “The Black Prince of England”, and Don Pedro sought his assistance.

The revolt was overturned and in return for his services, Edward demanded the Ruby and took it home to England,

The Ruby was later worn in the helmet of Henry V in he Battle of Agincourt in France in 1415. It was also worn by Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, where he was killed.

Henry VIII wore the Black Prince’s Ruby in the Tudor Crown, which was then passed on to his daughter, Elizabeth.

During the English Civil War, Charles I was overthrown by Oliver Cromwell and executed at Whitehall in 1649.

Cromwell had most of the Crown Jewels removed and melted down. The Black Prince’s Ruby was fortunately not among them and was sold.

The Monarchy was returned to the House of Stuart in 1660, when Charles II was crowned King of England.

The Ruby was sold back to Charles II 1660 and it was set in the State Crown.

In 1838 the Ruby was set in a new Imperial State Crown for the Coronation of Queen Victoria, made by Rundell and Bridge. It was later made into a lighter Crown into the current lighter State Crown.

Today, the Black Prince’s Ruby rests in the Imperial State Crown of the United Kingdom in the collection of Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

The Timur Ruby (a 361 carat spinel), gifted to a Queen Victoria, was thought to be a Ruby until 1851 when it was discovered that it is in fact, a spinel. It was set into the current necklace in 1853.


A spinel also takes pride of place in the Russian Imperial Crown, made for Catherine the Great in 1762.



Spinels also adorn The Imperial Crown of Austria (former Empire).



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