Mineral spodumene occurs in the form of beautiful prismatic crystals, the length of which can exceed 10 cm. The name of the mineral comes from the Greek «spodumenos», that means converted to ash, which is associated with its property: the stone forms a mass of ashen color when heated by a soldering tube. Kunzite, gem-quality variety of spodumene, owes its name to the famous mineralogist and gemologist at Tiffany & Co, George F. Kunz, who described this mineral in 1902.
The color range of kunzite is usually in light pastel palette from pink to bluish-purple. Pink color is the most expensive for this variety. Almost colorless stones are the least valuable. Keep in mind its property: excellent nice color, over time, the color may fade a little. Kunzite has “brothers,” also spodumene varieties: yellow tryphan and greenish hiddenite. In jewelry, they are quite rare. Among the source of the spodumene, the United States, Brazil, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Madagascar can be distinguished.
The mineral spodumene in its chemical composition is a silicate of lithium and aluminum. Mohs hardness value 6.5-7 allows its application in everyday jewelry creation. The property of cleavage, perfect in two directions, makes the process of cutting quite difficult. Thanks to the vitrous luster, facets of cut stone play beautifully. Due to the anisotropic optical character, the mineral is characterized by strong pleochroism, which manifests itself in faceted samples as a change in color at different viewing angles.
Gem-quality kunzites comes to the world market from Brazil (Minas Gerais state), USA (California state), Madagascar, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries. Most of the rough material of spodumene now is mined in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Mohs scale hardness:
perfect in two directions
3.18 (± 0.03) g / cm3
1,660-1,676 (± 0,005)
pink to bluish purple
The largest crystal of kunzite weighed 110 kg and was found in Brazil in 1910.
Kunzite has strong pleochroism. In order to reveal the most intense color in the stone, it is important to orient crystals correctly during cutting.
Kunzit became popular after the Sotheby’s auction in 1996. A Van Cleef Arpels ring with a 47-carat specimen surrounded by 20 diamonds was sold there.
The mineral spodumene was discovered at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries by the Portuguese mineralologist B.D. Andrada. Kunzit was first described by the gemologist of the jewelry company Tiffany & Co. George Kunz in 1902. These were bluish-violet crystals from California, USA. Tiffany & Co was engaged in the promotion of a new gemstone. Jewelry with kunzite are also applicated in such a famous brand as Van Cleef & Arpels. The gemstone is espesially popular in the USA.
Unfortunately, spodumens have the ability to change their color over time. This property also applies to kunzits: light-colored pink crystals fade under sunlight. To improve color, they can be irradiated and heat treated. This practice of treatment is very common for this variety of mineral.
Photos of hiddenite in rough materials - large samples from 20g each
In the photo: faceted stones of large size and saturated color.
Photo of kunzites in a pear shape, that is popular for this stone