Kunzite Gemstone Information
About Kunzite - History and Introduction
Kunzite is the pale pink to light violet gem-quality variety of the pyroxene mineral spodumene, a lithium aluminum inosilicate. Kunzite was first discovered in Connecticut, USA, and was named after George Frederick Kunz (1856 - 1932), an American mineralogist and the former vice president and buyer for Tiffany & Company. Kunz was a legendary New York jeweler and colored stone specialist, and he was the first to comprehensively describe the stone in 1902.
Although it was first discovered in the USA, most of the current supply of kunzite is found in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Kunzite is closely related to hiddenite, the yellow-green member of the spodumene family which was also discovered and named after an American mineralogist, W. E. Hidden. Kunzite is known to produce gemstones of great size. In fact, it's not uncommon to find fine quality stones weighing 20 carats or more. Kunzite and the entire spodumene group are important industrial sources of lithium, which is used for the making of medicines, ceramics, mobile phones and automotive batteries.
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 purchased it as a gift for his wife, but never had the chance to give it to her.
Identifying Kunzite Back to Top
Kunzite is composed of lithium, aluminum and silicate. Kunzite crystallizes in the monoclinic crystal system. Its prismatic crystal structure results in a distinct pleochroism which can be helpful in identifying kunzite. Kunzite exhibits perfect cleavage, a trait it shares with both diamond and topaz. With prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, kunzite's color can fade; a distinct attribute of the spodumene family. Unlike most other pink colored stones, kunzite is often found in very large sizes. Its vitreous luster and hardness is similar to quartz, making it softer than pink sapphire and spinel.
Kunzite Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Kunzite was first discovered in Connecticut, USA. The first significant commercial deposit was discovered 1902 in the Pala region of San Diego, California, where morganite (pink beryl) was also discovered. The most important deposits of kunzite are from Minas Gerais, Brazil, but most of the current supply is from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Other sources include Madagascar, Myanmar and the USA. Smaller gem quality deposits have also been found in Canada, Russia, Mexico, Sweden and Western Australia.
Buying Kunzite and Determining Kunzite Value Back to Top
Kunzite Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Kunzite: Related or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Kunzite belongs to the spodumene family, which is known to produce a few different varieties of gemstone, including the more common 'yellow spodumene' and the green form of 'hiddenite'. There is also a faint blue to green-blue form of spodumene as well as a multicolored variety, but these are not typically used or faceted as gemstones. The colorless form of spodumene is sometimes referred to as 'triphane'.
Kunzite is closely associated with pink morganite and pink tourmaline, which are also very popular as pink jewelry gemstones. Pink spinel and pink sapphire can sometimes be mistaken for kunzite, but kunzite is much softer and is available in much larger sizes. Most pink sapphire and spinel gemstones are less than 1 carat in weight, but kunzite is rarely seen in sizes of less than a few carats.
Kunzite Metaphysical and Crystal Healing Properties Back to Top
Some consider kunzite to be a modern-day birthstone for February, but this view lacks the support of traditionalists. The wearer of a kunzite gemstone is believed to be blessed with good fortune. Kunzite is said to help its wearer to understand and interact better with others. Kunzite is sometimes referred to as the 'evening stone' because of its sensitivity to sunlight and heat. Kunzite's pink color is said to bond the energies of the heart and mind. For this reason, it is often referred to as a 'stone of balance'. It is believed that kunzite can help enhance communication between lovers and help broken marriages and broken hearts. Physically, kunzite is thought to help with lung disorders.
In antiquity, as well as in the Middle Ages, people believed that the cosmos is reflected in gemstones. Modern Western esoteric movements revived this ancient belief and the gem industry made it another marketing tool to promote certain gems. Whether there is some truth in this belief or not, it truly doesn't matter if it can help those in need. Kunzite is assigned to the planets Pluto and Venus.
Kunzite Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Even though kunzite has relatively good hardness (6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale), an attractive luster and excellent transparency, it is still mostly unknown to many gemstone buyers. It is perfectly suitable for all kinds of jewelry design, including rings, bracelets, pendants, pins and brooches. The appeal of kunzite lies in its delicate color and excellent clarity. Kunzite's color appeals to feminine fashions. The soft pink is stunning when dressed with black.
Nowadays, pink gemstones have become one of the most popular colored stones. But most pink stones, including sapphire and spinel, are very expensive and are rarely found in larger sizes. Also, unlike sapphire and spinel, price per carat remains fairly constant with kunzite even as stones get larger. For a very large pink gemstone, kunzite is the most affordable option.
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 diamond by weight in comparison.
Kunzite Gemstone and Jewelry Care Back to Top
Kunzite is relatively hard, but it should be handled with care because of its distinct perfect cleavage. A sharp blow can split a stone in two. Kunzite is sensitive to heat as well as strong light. Its color can fade under continued exposure to direct light, so it's best to wear kunzite in the evening. When cleaning kunzite gemstones, avoid the use of ultrasonic cleaners and steamers. Kunzite can be effectively cleaned with the use of plain soapy water and a soft cloth or brush. Do not use any harsh chemicals or cleaners, including bleach and acid.
Always remove gems and jewelry before exercising or playing sports. When removing rings, do not pull from the stone as this can cause prongs to weaken and can eventually result in a lost stone. Do not store kunzite with other gems, in order to prevent splitting or scratching. When storing gems, wrap them in a soft cloth and place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box for the best protection.
- First Published: October-24-2006
- Last Updated: May-30-2014
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