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History & Introduction


Kunzite is the latest gemstone, first discovered in the 20th century. It was first found in the pegmatite of Pala, California, in 1902, and is named after the famous mineralogist George F. Kunz who discovered it. Till 1990's, this gemstone didn’t come in the mainstream gemstone that was used only as a collector’s gemstone prior to that time.

Kunzite is a stunning pink gem, but due to its habit of color fading in prolonged exposure to strong light it is considered as notorious. Even though the effect of color-fading is very slow, most people still prefer to look for Kunzite jewelry in the evening this prevents sunlight exposure. It is considered as an evening stone for this reason.

Kunzite deposits are widespread and produce large amounts of this gemstone and this makes the gemstone very affordable. Very large and flawless crystals of Kunzite are found which produces very large and flawless faceted gemstones.

It is a difficult gemstone to facet because of the perfect cleavage and a splintery fracture of Kunzite. Kunzite is known for its strong pleochroism, depicting lighter and deep coloring when seen through different angles. This is the reason that it is always cut to depict the deepest pink color through the top of the gem. The deeper pink the Kunzite is, the more valuable it generally is.

Kunzite is known to produce gemstones of great size. In fact, to search for fine quality stones weighing 20 carats or more is easy. A beautiful 47-carat kunzite ring sold for over $410,000 at a Sotheby's auction of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1996. President Kennedy bough it to gift his wife, however couldn’t get the opportunity to gift her.

Recognise - Kunzite is made of aluminum, lithium and silicate. Kunzite is crystallized to the monoclinic crystal system. The prismatic crystal structure shows a distinct pleochroism that can be helpful in recognizing kunzite. Kunzite shows perfect cleavage, a trait it is sharing with diamond as well as topaz. With protracted exposure to direct sunlight, kunzite's color can fade; a different attribute of the spodumene family. Unlike most other pink colored stones, kunzite is mainly available in large sizes. Its vitreous luster and hardness is like quartz that makes it softer as compared to pink sapphire and spinel.

Availability - The first important commercial deposit was discovered 1902 in the Pala region of San Diego, California, where morganite (pink beryl) was found too. The most important deposits of kunzite are from Minas Gerais, Brazil, in fact the present day supply origins from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Other sources are Madagascar, Myanmar and USA. Smaller gem quality deposits have also been found in Canada, Russia, Sweden, Mexico and Western Australia.

Usages - Though Kunzite is a relatively soft and delicate gem and can even fade when prolonged too much for the exposure to light, however its appealing color makes it a popular gem. Due to its cleavage and strong pleochroism small gems are not commonly cut from Kunzite. It is most often used as a pendant stone and as a large decorating stone on ornamental objects. It is less commonly used in jewelry items, where small stones are required. Stones that are less transparent are sometimes cut into cabochons and beads. Kunzite is a calming, relaxing stone. Kunzite and the entire Spodumene group are important industrial sources of lithium used in the making of medicines, automotive batteries, mobile phones and ceramics.

Buying Guide

Color - Kunzite, generally is pale, but it can sometimes be bright and quite intense. The colors of Kunzite ranges from light pink to saturated pink; lilac to lavender, and from light violet to pink-violet. The color of kunzite is due to the traces of manganese. Color will change with prolonged exposure to strong light. Kunzite is strongly pleochroic that results in various color intensities (mainly pink, clear and violet) depending on the angle it is seen. The tops and bottoms of crystals will present the intense color.

Clarity and Lustre - Kunzite is available with brilliant transparency. Almost the stones are very clean, still few of the stones can show frequently aligned additions like tubes or fractures. Eye clean stones are the most demanding stones, however they do not necessarily demand higher premiums as with other gem types. Kunzite shows a vitreous luster when polished.

Cut and Shape - Kunzite generally is faceted with an emerald step-cut. It is even frequently found in Portuguese-cut, since the extra facets develop its brilliance. Kunzite shows a powerful pleochroism, requiring lapidaries to properly turn the cut in order to maximize color. Due to its perfect cleavage cutting is a real challenge, splintery fracture and strong pleochroism. The commonly used shapes are cushions, ovals, rounds and octagons (emerald cut), as well as fancy hearts along with trillions.

Treatment - Mainly the kunzite is not treated naturally or enhanced in any way. Still some brownish and green-violet stones may be heated to about 300°F (150°C) to enhance color. To treat color another method of treatment is also in practice called irradiation, however this is not as common as regular heating.

Gemological Characteristics:

Chemical Formula LiAl[Si2O6] Lithium aluminum silicate
Crystal Structure Monoclinic; prismatic; tabular
Color Light violet-pink, pink-violet
Hardness 6.5 [fraction] to 7
Refractive Index 1.660 to 1.681
Density 3.15 to 3.21
Cleavage Perfect
Transparency Transparent
Double Refraction or Birefringence 0.014 to 0.016
Lustre Vitreous
Fluorescence Strong, yellow-red, orange
Mineral Class Spodumene

Classification:

  • Pink kunzite
  • Purple kunzite