The transparent red spinels were called spinel-rubies or balas-rubies. In the past, before the arrival of modern science, spinels and rubies were equaly known as rubies.
Some spinels are among the most famous gemstones: Among them is the Black Prince's Ruby and the 'Timur ruby' in the British Crown Jewels, and the 'cote de Bretagne' formerly from the French Crown jewels. The Samarian Spinel is the largest known spinel in the world, weighing 500 carats.
True spinel has long been found in the gemstone-bearing gravel of Sri Lanka and in limestones of the Badakshan province in nowadays Tajikistan and of Mogok in Burma. Recently gem quality spinels were also found in the marbles of Luc Yen (Vietnam), Mahenge and Matombo (Tanzania), Tsavo (Kenya) and in the gravels of Tunduru (Tanzania) and Ilakaka (Madagascar).