Spinel excels in color, luster, hardness, and durability. It is appropriate for almost any use in jewelry.

Spinel occurs in colors that span the spectrum: red, pink, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and purple. White, black, gray and colorless specimens are also found. Three colors are especially popular: red and blue (the colors that imitate ruby and sapphire), and an orange-red color known as "flame spinel." Starting in the 2020s, an unusual interest in gray spinel began.