Spinel is the great impostor of gemstone history: many famous rubies in crown jewels around the world are actually spinels. It may be colorless, but is usually various shades of red, blue, green, yellow, brown, or black. In Burma, where some of the most beautiful colours are mined, spinel was recognised as a separate gem species as early as 1587. In other countries the masquerade went on for hundreds of years. Spinels were most often referred to as ‘balas rubies’, which may have referred to their colour or their country of origin.