This unusual gemstone has been discovered in the United States, in 1903. It was named in honor of George F. Kunz, an American mineralogist and collector, because of his scientific contribution in mineralogy.
Kunzite possesses a varied range of tints, such as: deep pink purple, deep rosy lilac, amethyst-pink and others. Its color is due to the presence of lithium inside it in a large amount. However the Greeks called it “spodios,” because of its a so-called ash-colored tint, from whence its chemical name.
Kunzite is a lilac-colored variety of Spodumene, distinguished from its green variety called “Hidenite,” which was found in North Carolina and from yellow variety, called “Pisani,” found in Brazil, while usual Spodumene is of white or gray color, from whence its Greek name.
The Kunzite crystals were found in two locations: in Pala, San Diego and Branchville, Connecticut. The so-called Meridian specimens, fond nearly Connecticut, were previously identified as the tourmalines, however George F. Kunz was the first, explained their “true nature” of Spodumene. Therefore, the scientific mineralogist society, upon the suggestion of Mr. Charles Baskerville, decided to call this mineral “Kunzite.”
Varieties of Spodumene
There were two varieties of Spodumene, discovered before Kunzite: the “Hiddenite,” named in a honor of W.E. Hidden and yellow Brazilian Spodumene. It was considered recently, that the yellow crystals of Spodumene are indeed the crystals of Chrysoberyl, however subsequent studies confirmed that the yellow crystals obtained from Brazil were actually the Spodumene crystals. The first variety, called “Hiddenite” occurs principally in the colorless and yellow crystals, no more than 5 carats in weight.
Particular Features of Kunzite
Kunzite possesses the unusual feature called phosphorescence. That means, that its crystals possess illuminant power, upon exposure of the x-rays. This feature is not typical to other crystals of Spodumene. Moreover, the Kunzite consists radium bromide, that makes it as a curiosity gemstone to study and ranks it in a higher value among the semi-precious stones.
This feature means, that the Kunzite able to glow with yellowish light. By the way, the only mineral possesses the same feature is the Diamond. Subsequent studies, undertaken by the scientists supposed a possibility to rank the Kunzite next to the Diamond.
Scarcity of Kunzite and its Value
I will not claim, that the Kunzite is a retest gem in the world, however, it is not abundant in its mines. According to the sources of XX century, dated 1907, all of the latest Spodumene specimens, obtained from the Californian mines didn’t contain any Kunzites.
Perhaps, the modern mines, discovered in XXI century contain this mineral in huge abundance, however, it is hard to find any confirmation of that fact. Therefore, any consumer have to be careful, purchasing any jewelry made of Kunzite, especially for a cheap price.
Kunzite as a Birthstone
Helen Barlett Bridgman claims in her book “GEMS,” that the Kunzite has been included in the American list of Birthstones, as a Birthstone for September. Moreover, George F. Kunz itself, have included the Kunzite in a list of Birthstones as a September Birthstone. Therefore, we have a proof that such unusual gemstone as a Kunzite is appropriate for September along with the Sapphire.
Image credit to: Jarno