Andalusite Gemstone Information
About Andalusite - History and Introduction
Andalusite is named after Andalusia, the Spanish autonomous community where it was first discovered. Andalusite is an aluminum silicate, closely related to both silimanite and kyanite. In fact, all three minerals are polymorphs, which means they share the same chemical composition, but possess different crystal structures. Andalusite is a strikingly beautiful gem, but it is largely unknown to the general public and considered to be one of the lesser-known gem types in the trade.
Andalusite has a very distinct combination of colors, and a very pronounced level of pleochroism, which results in the exhibition of different colors when viewed from different angles. Andalusite most often occurs translucent to opaque, with transparent gemstone-quality specimens being very rare. For many years, andalusite has primarily been a collector's stone, but it has recently gained a lot of attention from many jewelry designers. It is becoming increasingly popular in jewelry designs. Andalusite possesses a good level of durability and hardness, making it suitable for any type of jewelry application. The attraction of andalusite is greatly owed to its play of color, which can be seen during changes in its viewing angle. Similar effects are also seen when lighting strikes the gem from different directions.
Identifying Andalusite Back to Top
There are only a few gem types that could be mistaken for andalusite, including tourmaline, chrysoberyl, sphene, smoky quartz and idocrase. Pleochroism in gems occurs in varying strengths; weak, distinct or strong. Pleochroic effects are the result of differing absorption of light rays, and the phenomenon can only occur with doubly refractive crystals. Andalusite is considered to be strongly pleochroic, along with iolite, kyanite, kunzite, sphene and tanzanite. Andalusite has trichroic pleochroism; when light enters the stone, it is parted into three sections, each containing a portion of the visible spectrum. Some pleochroic gems, such as kunzite, possess dichroic pleochroism, which means that they display only two different colors.
Andalusite Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Andalusite typically occurs in placers, gneisses, and schists as a result of argillaceous sediment that has been metamorphosed. Andalusite rarely occurs in granite or pegmatites, but it does, it tends to yield the largest crystals. Andalusite deposits can be found in many locations, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Spain (Andalusia), Sri Lanka, Burma, Madagascar and the USA (California and Colorado).
Buying Andalusite and Determining Andalusite Gemstone Value Back to Top
Andalusite Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Andalusite Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Only a few gem types could be mistaken for andalusite, including tourmaline, chrysoberyl, sphene, smoky quartz, idocrase or sinhalite. Due to distinct markings, it is very difficult to imitate because of its pronounced pleochroic properties. The opaque variety of andulusite is not nearly as desirable or popular as transparent, gem-quality andalusite.
Andalusite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
As a lesser-known gemstone, andalusite produces mostly blank pages in the books of myth, history, wisdom, astrology (zodiac) and the relationship between the planets and mankind. Although there are only a few myths specific to andalusite, it has been worn as amulets for quite some time, which suggests that many older cultures believed in its crystal powers. Andalusite was likely used for ceremonial purposes and alternative healing practices.
Andalusite is sometimes referred to as the "Seeing Stone". It earned this name due to its metaphysical ability to calmly see, without bias, various aspects of character. Andalusite is sometimes used to encourage its wearer to appraise issues rationally and to see problems from all perspectives, without fear or judgment. Andalusite helps its wearer to realize that self-sacrifices are never required, but are acceptable when needed. Andalusite is believed by some to help with HIV (AIDS), eye disorders and is said boost calcium, oxygen and iodine levels. Andalusite is also thought to relieve water retention, enhance memory, encourage chivalry, balance and moderation in its wearer. Andalusite is used as a meditation and centering stone. Andalusite is a stone of Virgo and it is primarily associated with the 3rd and 4th chakras (the solar plexus and heart chakras).
Andalusite Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Andalusite possesses a good level of durability and hardness, making it suitable for any type of jewelry application. It has a hardness rating of 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, making it harder than quartz. Until recently, andalusite was mostly a collector's stone and rarely found in jewelry. Andalusite crystals are not commonly found in large sizes, so they are most commonly used as accent stones or in cluster designs for colored stone jewelry. It is also ideal as the center stone for rings, bracelets, necklaces, brooches, cuff-links, tie-tacks and pendants. Due to its pleochroism, it is best suited for jewelry designs that allow light to strike the stone at many angles. Closed settings will not allow andalusite to display this desirable quality.
Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamonds by weight in comparison.
Andalusite Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Andalusite is quite durable. Andalusite can be wiped down using any soft cloth or soft-bristled brush. A mild soap or detergent can be used, but should be rinsed well to remove soapy residue. Andalusite has an uneven fracture and good cleavage, so it is not as sensitive to blows as some other stones, such as tanzanite, topaz and diamond; however, andalusite should be protected from any hard blows to prevent fracturing. As with almost all colored stones, avoid the use of harsh household chemicals. When storing andalusite, it is best to store the jewelry or gemstone wrapped in a soft cloth or inside a fabric-lined box. To preserve andalusite polish and to prevent surface scratches, always store andalusite separately from other gems.
- First Published: August-14-2006
- Last Updated: May-12-2014
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