Taaffeite and sinhalite are two gemstones with much in common. They are both rare, both found in Sri Lanka and were once mistaken for other gemstones.

In 1945, Count Edward Taaffe, a Dublin gemmologist discovered an already faceted mauve spinel like the one on the left, amongst gemstones from Sri Lanka which did not have the same refractive quality of true spinels. It was subsequently thoroughly tested and shown to be a new gemstone mineral and naturally, they were renamed after him. Taaffeites are estimated to be over a million times rarer than diamonds with colours ranging from red to blue to colourless. The red variety is the rarest with only 10 known stones.

Sinhalite is also from Sri Lanka hence its name as Sinhalese is the language of Sri Lanka. Originally thought to be a brownish variety of peridot, the confusion was cleared up in 1952. Although sinhalite gemstones are rare, these yellow, brown or greenish brown gemstones are not popular except amongst collectors. Therefore, sinhalite is a bargain rare gemstone although some of the darker greenish brown varieties are gorgeous and will command higher prices. These pictures here show how easily they were once thought to be brownish peridot :