“Spinel: resurrection of a classic” is a nice overview of red spinels (including the Mahenge spinels of course) around the world. Article by Vincent Pardieu, with Richard Hughes
In decades and centuries past, two strikingly different reasons have prevented gem spinels from reaching the general public. Many possessed a nasty secondary gray tint to them or, in the case of red spinels, they might be so strikingly spectacular that they passed as exceedingly fine and valuable rubies. Many of the nicest and greatest “rubies” found in royal crowns are in fact red spinels. Thus it is that the “Black Prince’s ruby” and the “Timur ruby”, both of which are in the possession of the British royal family, have turned out to be spinels. In recent years Tanzania has produced some splendid red and pink spinels, a gemstone which is decidedly undervalued. Although known since Roman times, spinel is not one of the traditional birthstones and its name is so unfamiliar that our spellcheck program questions whether we had not meant to type “spine” or “spineless”.
We are happy to be able to say that these days Tanzania produces lovely gem spinels with no hint of gray and at prices that do not demand a Royal budget (more so for smaller spinels). Tanzania is now becoming very famous for its spinels. Spinels from southern Tanzania (Tunduru) are of various colors (purple, blue, etc) while those from central Tanzania (Mahenge, Morogoro) are usually pink to red. The latter are the most expensive. In 2007, a couple of incredible rough pieces have been mined. Quite a few articles have been written about this rough. We have been purchasing Mahenge spinels for years. We buy these spinels on a day to day basis. We were also among the privileged who bought these huge gems. The smaller spinels are usually pink whereas the bigger ones (above 7 or 8 cts) tend to be red. Our smaller spinels are sold to cutting factories in the far East. Our bigger ones are usually sold to private collectors, to well known retailers and wholesalers.