What we discovered is that "yellow kunzite", "mint kunzite" and "white kunzite" are all recently-introduced marketing terms for different colors of the mineral spodumene. We're not sure who started this trend, but now we find many different vendors -- including some respectable mineral dealers -- using the term yellow kunzite for the yellow color of spodumene.
This is really not a good trend for the gemstone business. It harks back to a time when false and misleading names for gemstones were rife in the trade, when a term like "Ceylon diamond" was used to refer to colorless zircon, or "Arizona ruby" was used for pyrope garnet. We still see smoky quartz being sold under the name "smoky topaz."
The reason these terms are objectionable is because, in the first place, they are obviously incorrect. But more importantly, they almost always involve using the name of a more expensive gemstone to refer to a less valuable stone. So in that sense they are fraudulent as well as misleading.
In the case of a term like "yellow kunzite," the variety name "kunzite" is in fact defined by a color -- it is the pink or lilac color of spodumene. Some gem varieties are defined by a color -- think of emerald, ruby, aquamarine, morganite and tsavorite garnet -- so terms like "red emerald" are simply contradictions (even though some vendors have tried to market bixbite as "red emerald").
In the case of yellow kunzite, good quality yellow spodumene is not really less expensive than genuine pink kunzite. So in this case it is not really a matter of trying to get a higher price for the material by calling it kunzite. This seems to be a case where a better-known and more attractive varietal name -- kunzite -- is substituted for a relatively unknown and not very attractive-sounding name, spodumene. Whatever the excuse, this a disturbing trend and should be resisted.
- First Published: March-16-2010
- Last Updated: October-07-2010
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