Pink has become one of the most popular colors in gemstones. But many pink gems, such as sapphire and spinel, can only be found in small sizes, typically weighing under 2 carats. You can often find pink tourmaline in sizes weighing between 5 and 10 carats, but if you're looking for a very large pink gemstone for a cocktail ring or a pendant, your best choice is kunzite.
Kunzite is still unknown to many gemstone buyers. But the gemstone world began to pay attention to kunzite when they learned of a 47-carat kunzite ring that the American President John F. Kennedy had purchased for his wife, Jacqueline. He never had the chance to give her the ring before his tragic death in 1963. The kunzite ring sold for more than $410,000 at the Sotheby's Auction of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, in 1996.
Kunzite is the pale pink-violet to light-violet species of the mineral spodumene. It is a good, hard stone (6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale) with a vitreous luster and good transparency, so it is suitable for all kinds of jewelry. It is typically a very light-pink or lilac, though we occasionally see some more highly saturated pink gems. We've also found some interesting pieces in an unusual golden pink.
Though most of the kunzite in today's market comes from Pakistan and Afghanistan, the gemstone was first discovered in the USA. It was named as a tribute to George F. Kunz, the legendary American mineralogist and buyer for Tiffany & Co., who first described the gem in 1902. Interestingly, the green form of spodumene was also first discovered in the USA, and was named after another American, W.E. Hidden.
Kunzite is strongly pleochroic, meaning there is a color intensity variation when a kunzite crystal is viewed from different directions. The top and bottom of the crystal reveal the deepest colors. Kunzite is challenging to cut in order to ensure that the light passes through the gem and maximizes the desired color.
Kunzite can often be found in sizes weighing over 20 carats, and we occasionally see pieces as large as 50 carats. These days it often receives a Portuguese cut, since the extra facets of this cut enhance its brilliance. Most of the kunzite we find is quite clean, and it is not unusual to find large pieces that have no visible inclusions at all, even under magnification.
- First Published: November-25-2008
- Last Updated: August-22-2017
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