Significant uncertainty surrounds the processes involved in the formation of basalt-hosted corundum, particularly the role that the mantle plays in corundum generation. Some previous studies have suggested that trace-element ratios (namely, Cr/Ga and Ga/Mg) are useful for distinguishing two types of corundum: ‘magmatic’ and ‘metamorphic’, designations that include mantle and crustal processes. However, recent studies, including this one, have discovered transitional groups between these end-members that are difficult to classify.We used laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA–ICP–MS) to measure trace-element concentrations in sapphire and ruby crystals from eight alluvial deposits that span a significant length of the eastern Australian gemstone belt. Additionally, we collected LA–ICP–MS U–Pb and traceelement data from zircon megacrysts atWeldborough, Tasmania, which is also within the gemstone belt. Our sapphire and ruby results reveal a continuum in trace-element compositions, an observation that raises questions regarding previous classifications that ascribe corundum from basalt-hosted gemfields to either ‘magmatic’ or ‘metamorphic’ sources. The spatial association of basalt-related gemfields in eastern Australia with a long-lived convergent margin suggests a link between corundum formation and Al-enrichment of the mantle wedge during periods of subduction.