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Spodumene Gemstone Information

About Spodumene - History and Introduction

Spodumene is a gemstone quality pyroxene mineral that draws its name from the Greek word 'spodumenos', which means 'ash colored'. Its name is derived from the natural color of opaque, industrial-grade spodumene crystals, which are often found in unattractive, dull ash-gray colors. By composition, spodumene is a lithium aluminum silicate and it is one of the important sources for industrial-use lithium today. Spodumene is often found in occurrences of granite, aplite and pegmatite. Although the mineral spodumene was first described long ago in 1800, transparent gemstone varieties of spodumene were only recently discovered during the last century.

Gemologically, like chalcedony, spodumene is actually a group of closely related gemstones, and it can also refer to a single, specific gem type. In the gem trade, the gemstone 'spodumene' typically refers to only transparent pale-yellow to golden yellow material. Other colors are traded under color-specific names, which include 'kunzite' and 'hiddenite'. Kunzite is light-pink to violet spodumene, while hiddenite is the trade name used for green spodumene. Although spodumene was first discovered in Sweden, the fine pink and green gemstone varieties were first discovered in the United States, and both were named after their founders. Kunzite was named after George Frederick Kunz and hiddenite was named after William Earl Hidden.

Spodumene
Spodumene
Click to enlarge
Identifying Spodumene Back to Top

Spodumene is a lithium aluminum silicate with a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale. It typically exhibits excellent transparency and a vitreous luster when cut and polished. Spodumene can often be distinguished by its crystal habit, fracture, and perfect prismatic cleavage, a property it shares with diamond and topaz. Spodumene can often be distinguished from similar gems such as quartz, topaz and beryl by its pronounced pleochroism and higher refractive index; its refractive index is slightly less than that of tanzanite.

Spodumene; Origin and Sources Back to Top

Spodumene deposits are found in locations all around the world. The most notable deposits are found in Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, Pakistan and the United States (California, North Carolina and South Dakota).

Hiddenite was originally found in Hiddenite, North Carolina, but more recently, there have been discoveries in Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma) and California. Many argue that green spodumene from any locality other than Hiddenite, N.C. should only be traded as 'ordinary' green spodumene.

The most important deposits of pink kunzite are found at Minas Gerais in Brazil. Other notable sources include Afghanistan, Madagascar, Myanmar (Burma), Pakistan and the United States. A rare, colorless variety was discovered in Madagascar and a rare, blue variety was found in Afghanistan.

Buying Spodumene and Determining Spodumene Value Back to Top

Spodumene Color

Spodumene can occur in a variety of colors, including white, colorless, gray, pink, lilac, violet, light-blue, yellow and green. The gemstone 'spodumene' typically refers to yellow material. Pink spodumene is colored by manganese; green spodumene is colored by chromium and yellow spodumene is colored by iron impurities. With all spodumene, the tops and bottoms of crystals tend to reveal the deepest colors. It is also strongly pleochroic, which results in variation of color depending on the viewing angle. All spodumene is known to fade in color, especially after prolonged exposure to direct sunlight or heat.

Spodumene Clarity and Luster

Spodumene typically forms with excellent transparency. Most gemstones are eye-clean, even very large specimens. On rare occasion, spodumene can sometimes display chatoyancy or a cat's eye effect. Spodumene is known to exhibit a vitreous luster when polished.

Spodumene Cut and Shape

Spodumene is typically faceted and it is very rarely cut en cabochon. It is strongly pleochroic and the tops and bottoms of crystals tend to reveal the deepest colors. Due to its perfect cleavage, splintery fracture and pleochroic nature, spodumene is considered a real gem cutter's challenge. The most common shapes include ovals, rounds, cushions, pears and trillions. It may sometimes be carved as an ornamental gem.

Spodumene Treatment

Spodumene is not normally treated or enhanced in any way, although brownish and green-violet materials may be heated to improve color.

Spodumene Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Chemical Formula: LiAlSi2O6 Lithium aluminum silicate
Crystal Structure: Monoclinic, prismatic, tabular
Color: White, colorless, gray, pink, lilac, violet, yellow and green
Hardness: 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale
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
Luster: Vitreous
Fluorescence: Variable

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

Spodumene: Related or Similar Gemstones Back to Top
Pink Kunzite
Kunzite

Spodumene is both a mineral species and a family of gemstones which includes 'yellow spodumene', 'green hiddenite' and 'pink kunzite'. There are some unofficial and misleading marketing names used for other colored spodumene varieties, such as 'yellow kunzite', 'mint kunzite' and 'white kunzite', but none of these names are accepted in the gem trade, especially since kunzite by definition is pink to violet spodumene. There are also blue to green-blue spodumene materials, as well as a multicolored spodumene variety, but these rarer colors are not often used as gemstones. Colorless to pale yellow spodumene is sometimes referred to as 'triphane' in the gem trade.

Spodumene Mythology, Metaphysical and Crystal Healing Properties Back to Top

Yellow to colorless spodumene is sometimes referred to as triphane in the world of crystal healing. Although related to pink kunzite and green hiddenite, 'triphane' spodumene has its own purposes and lore. Spodumene is known as a cleansing crystal and can be used for refreshing energies. It is often used for its ability to empower its wearer with motivation for completing tasks, rather than starting projects and leaving them unfinished.

Spodumene can also help shield against harmful or bad energies. Physically, yellow spodumene is believed to help with sensory problems, especially hearing and vision disorders; it is said to be helpful for those who suffer from epilepsy and joint, bone and nervous system conditions. Spodumene is not a traditional birthstone, but it is considered to be one of the natural birthstones for those born in the beginning of summer; June 21st through July 21st. Yellow spodumene is associated with the element of fire and is thought to be useful for aligning all chakra energies.

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 does not represent 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 circumstances.
Spodumene Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top

Even though spodumene 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 spodumene lies in its attractive color and excellent clarity. Soft pink spodumene lends itself very well to feminine fashions, while yellow and green spodumene can appeal to both men's and ladies' jewelry designs.

Spodumene is also favored for many accessories, owing to the abundance of large gemstones. It is extremely rare (and typically very expensive) to find natural yellow gemstones of over 5 carats in weight, so yellow spodumene is a wonderful and affordable option for those looking for large stones to be used in large jewelry fashion designs, such as cocktail rings or oversized pendants.

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.

Famous Spodumene Gemstones Back to Top

As a lesser-known gemstone, yellow spodumene hasn't gained much fame as of yet. However, The Russian Palmette Tiara, currently owned by the Duchess of Gloucester (Great Britain) is a historical tiara that was designed with an interchangeable center stone. There is a choice of diamond, emerald or pink spodumene (kunzite) for the center stone. The tiara previously belonged to Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia.

Spodumene Gemstone Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top

How to clean your gemstonesSpodumene is relatively hard, but it should be handled with care because of its perfect cleavage. A hard knock or sharp blow can split a stone in two. Spodumene is sensitive to heat as well as strong light. Its color is known to fade overtime, and after continued exposure to direct light or heat, color loss can occur. Thus, spodumene gems and jewelry are best worn in the evening. When cleaning spodumene gemstones, avoid the use of ultrasonic cleaners and heat steamers. Spodumene can be effectively cleaned using plain soapy water and a soft cloth. Do not use any harsh chemicals or cleaners, including bleach, acid or other chemicals.

Always remove spodumene gems and jewelry before exercising or playing sports. When removing rings, do not pull from the stone as this can cause prongs to weaken, eventually resulting in a lost stone. When storing spodumene gemstones, store them separately and away from other gems and jewelry. If possible, it is recommended that gems are wrapped individually in a soft cloth and placed inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.

  • First Published: March-26-2007
  • Last Updated: April-09-2014
  • © 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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