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  : : Apatite Information
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Apatite Gemstone Information

About Apatite - History and Introduction

Apatite is a group of phosphate minerals which includes hydroxyl-apatite, fluor-apatite and chlor-apatite. Apatite is the most common type of phosphate in the world and it is the main source for phosphorus, a chemical essential to bioenergetics and photosynthesis. Apatite is composed of calcium phosphate, which is the same material that makes up humans and animals teeth and bones.

Although apatite is a very common mineral, transparent gemstone-quality apatite is extremely rare. Despite Apatite being the defining mineral for 5 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness, they remain virtually unknown to most consumers and seldom are they found in jewelry stores. However, because Apatite occurs in such a wide variety of attractive colors and forms, they are a favorite among gemstone collectors. Connoisseurs often seek out rare colors like paraiba-like blue-green, leek-green Apatite known as 'asparagus stone', and deep purple, violet and reddish specimens. There is also a blue variety known as 'moroxite', but these are typically heat-treated for enhanced color.

The word 'Apatite' was derived from a Greek word meaning 'cheat'. The name was given to apatite because of its close resemblence to several other precious gemstones. As a result of many people being 'cheated', Apatite became unfairly labeled as the 'deceitful stone'. Amblygonite, Andalusite, Brazilianite, Precious Beryl, Sphene, Topaz and Tourmaline can all be confused with Apatite.

Apatite chatoyancy
Apatite that exhibits chatoyancy, or a cat's eye effect is extremely rare. Cat's Eye Apatite Gemstones are always cut en cabochon. Chatoyancy is a rare optical phenomenon existing only in a handful of different gem types. It is distinguished by a unique light reflection that resembles the slit eye of a cat. It is caused by light reflected off parallel inclusions within a gemstone, typically rutile needles, fibers or channels. Cat's Eye reflections are best viewed in direct light; when the stone is rotated, the cat's eye will appear to glide across the surface.

Apatite Mineralogy
Apatite develops as crystals within granite pegmatites, metamorphic rocks and igneous environments. Apatite crystal can vary in composition based on the level of hydroxide, fluorine or chlorine ions. Apatite-rich rocks are one of the most important sources for phosphorus. Not only is phosphorus required by plants, but it is also an essential chemical commonly used in fertilizers, explosives, fireworks, pesticides, toothpaste, detergents and pharmaceutical products.

Apatite Gemstone - Click to Enlarge
Natural Apatite Gemstone
Identifying Apatite Back to Top

Apatite can be identified through several testing methods. Fluorescence is one way to distinguish Apatite specimens. Apatite is much harder than Calcite, and because it is softer than Tourmaline, Beryl and Quartz, a simple scratch test can usually identify and distinguish Apatite. Apatite value depends mostly on color saturation. Specimens with high color intensity are considered more valuable. Gem-quality Apatite is rarely found in large sizes; stones over one carat can command very high premiums. Apatite is a 'Type II - Typically Included' gem type. Almost all Apatite will have visible inclusions. Eye-clean specimens are very rare, especially in larger sizes.

Apatite Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top

Apatite is found in a number of places in the world, including Myanmar (Burma), India, Kenya, Brazil, Norway, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Mexico, Canada and the United States.

Buying Apatite and Determining Apatite Gemstone Value Back to Top

Apatite Color

The range of colors includes colorless, pink, yellow, green, blue and violet. A rare variety is a rich purple from Maine. Blue Brazilian stones are second in demand. Madacascar is known to product a neon blue-green material that is highly desirable. Light green Apatite carries the trade name 'asparagus stone'. The color of the best specimens of Apatite can rival famed Paraiba tourmalines. As for any other gem, color saturation defines the value.

Apatite Clarity and Luster

When cut and polished, Apatite has a vitreous luster. Gem-quality Apatite typically occurs transparent, but translucent specimens do exist.

Apatite Cut and Shape

Apatite comes in many different shapes and cuts. Transparent specimens are typically faceted into traditional shapes. Fancy shapes and calibrated sizes are hard to find and command higher prices. Some blue and yellow apatite possess chatoyancy and are cut and polished as Cat's Eye. Specimens with bases parallel to the fibers are most ideal for cabochons cuts.

Apatite Treatment

Apatite gemstones are typically untreated. Blue Apatite is known to be heat-treated, but some are un-enhanced. Most green specimens are typically untreated. Gemstone suppliers should always disclose treatments and enhancements made to their gemstones for sale.

Apatite Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Chemical Formula: Ca5(PO4)3(F,OH,CI) - Basic Fluoro- and Chloro-Calcium
Crystal Structure: Hexagonal, Columnar, Thick Tabular
Color: Colorless, pink, yellow, green, blue, violet
Hardness: 5 (Defining Mineral)
Refractive Index: 1.628 - 1.649
Density: 3.16 - 3.23
Cleavage: Indiscernible, Conchoidal Fracture
Transparency: Transparent to translucent
Double Refraction / Birefringence: -0.002 to -0.006
Luster: Vitreous
Fluorescence: Yellow A.: Purple to Pink

Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details on gemology-related terms.

Apatite: Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Cat's Eye Apatite - Click to Enlarge
Cat's Eye Apatite

Apatite is one of the lesser-known gem types. However, there are many similar gemstone that resemble the color and form of Apatite. In fact, Apatite acquired its name because it was used to imitate more expensive stones, such as Precious Beryl, Tourmaline, Sphene and Topaz.

Apatite also comes in a very rare, but popular cat's eye cabochon. Most are found with yellowish, green and golden color, but there are many other color varieties available. As with faceted Apatite, there are many cabochon stones that can be confused with Cat's Eye Apatite, including Chrysoberyl Cat's Eye, Quartz Cat's Eye, Tourmaline Cat's Eye and Silimanite Cat's Eye.

Most Popular Apatite Varieties:

'Asparagus Stone', Neon-Blue Apatite, Neon Blue-Green Apatite, Violet-Purple Apatite, Green Apatite and Cat's Eye Apatite are the most popular and well-known varieties of Apatite.

Lesser-Known Apatite Varieties:

Carbonate Apatite (Carbonate-rich), Collophane Apatite, Mangan-Apatite, Sammite-Apatite, Staffelite-Apatite and Moroxite Apatite are the lesser-known varieties of Apatite.

Apatite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top

Apatite is a lesser-known gemstone with very little fame, myth, legend and scheme in astrology, zodiac or planetary energies. Since Apatite is actually part of our composition and is produced and used by the human body, it is believed to have some extremely powerful healing abilities. Many gemstone-lovers are fascinated by the lore and powers of gemstones, especially those with relation to the human body.

Apatite is thought to be a learning and inspiration stone. It is a fire element stone helpful with overcoming fears and turning mental thoughts into physical manifestations. They are associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra. Apatite is commonly used for its metaphysical ability to encourage extroversion. It is able to draw out negative energy and stimulate creativity. Physically, Apatite is able heal bones, cartilage, teeth and boost calcium absorption. It is also known to relieve pain caused by arthritis and other joint-related health problems.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Traditional, Ceremonial and Mythological Gemstone Lore is collected from various resources and is not the sole opinion of SETT Co., Ltd. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed medical practitioner. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements of healing or astrological birthstone powers and cannot be held liable under any circumstance.
Apatite Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top

Apatite has a brittle tenacity. Although tooth enamel is the hardest material in the human body, Apatite is not especially hard compared to other types of gemstones used for jewelry. It has a hardness rating of 5 on Mohs scale and is ideal for jewelry that less prone to wear-and-tear. Jewelry designs such as earrings, pendants, pins, cuff-links and tie-tacks are generally safe. Apatite can be used in ring designs, but it should be limited to occasional wearing and protective-style settings.

Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary with size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamond by weight comparison.

Gemstone Caring and Cleaning for your Apatite and Gemstone Jewelry Back to Top

How to Clean your GemstonesApatite gemstones are rather fragile compared to most gemstones. Care for Apatite should be similar to that of precious opal. Apatite is sensitive to heat and shock, so steamers and ultrasonic should always be avoided. Apatite is sensitive to acids, so they should not be worn when working with chemicals. Avoid wearing Apatite jewelry when engaging in physical activity, such as exercise or sports, or when doing household chores.

Since it is considerably softer than quartz, simply wiping off dust can eventually cause Apatite to lose its polish and develop surface scratches. When storing Apatite, wrap them in a soft cloth, or place them into a fabric-lined box. Always store Apatite separately from other types of gemstones and gemstone jewelry.

  • First Published: August-10-2006
  • Last Updated: February-13-2014
  • © 2005-2014 GemSelect.com all rights reserved.
    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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