Charoite Gemstone Information
About Charoite - History and Introduction
Charoite is a rare silicate mineral with a very complex chemical composition of phosphorus, calcium, and sodium. It's considered to be a relatively new gemstone, as it was not introduced on a commercial level until 1978, despite its actual discovery first being made sometime during the 1940s. Although pure charoite is a distinct mineral, the 'charoite' we know today is technically defined as a rock, much like that of maw-sit-sit and lapis lazuli. However, unlike lapis lazuli and maw-sit-sit, charoite's composition is very nearly pure and may contain only slight traces of microcline feldspar, aergirine or tinaksite.
When it comes to appearance, charoite is one of the most distinct gemstones available on the market today. In fact, charoite is often described as being 'unnaturally beautiful', particularly owing to its distinct characteristics. The colors of charoite are unmistakable and can range from lilac to lavender and from light-violet to medium-deep purple. Most charoite gemstones exhibit several violet shades in a very unique pattern, often swirling, streaking or feather-like. The swirling patterns are considered to be a signature trait of charoite and are the result of interlocking complex fibrous crystals. In many cases, charoite may also occur with streaks of green, black and orange color as a result of tinaksite and aegerine impurities formed within the stone.
Charoite can also exhibit a slight level of chatoyancy, which when combined with its unique color, attractive luster and translucent marbling, has led many people to believe that charoite is enhanced or lab-grown, synthesized material. It was just too unbelievable in appearance to be thought of as being natural, even though it was. Since its recent introduction to the international gem trade, charoite has become increasingly popular year-after-year. Unfortunately, due to limited supply, some experts claim that the Siberian mines may soon be depleted, much like those of tanzanite and rare ammolite.
Identifying Charoite Back to Top
Charoite has a hardness similar to turquoise and lapis lazuli (between apatite and orthoclase). It possesses a density and refractive index roughly equivalent to that of quartz, but even without gemological details, charoite is very easily distinguished from any other material. In fact, charoite has such a distinct color and swirly pattern, it's virtually unmistakable. It's actually considered to be one of the very few gem types that most gemologists can comfortably identify by appearance alone. Sugilite, another violet to purple colored gemstone, is similar in color to charoite, but it lacks the presence of charoite's characteristic inclusions and slight to moderate chatoyancy. Charoite in the rough may be more difficult to distinguish as it appears rather plain.
Charoite Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top
Charoite was named after Yakutia's Chary River, the location in which it was first discovered, circa 1940. To this day, the Murun complex in the Sakha Republic, Siberia, has been the sole source of charoite gemstones. Charoite forms from deposits of limestone transformed through heat, pressure and the infusion of unique chemicals (alkali-rich nephline syenite intrusions). This process is known as 'contact metamorphism' and it's considered to be a common geological phenomenon. Considering that the process of formation is quite common, the reason why charoite occurrences are rare and limited only to the small region from which they are mined has never been fully understood.
Buying Charoite and Determining Charoite Gemstone Value Back to Top
Charoite Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Charoite: Varieties or Similar Gemstones: Back to Top
Charoite has a very complex chemical composition, which consists of hydrated potassium, sodium, calcium, barium strontium and silicate hydroxyfluoride. There are no known closely related gemstones, but there are a few gemstones that can appear similar including pietersite, tiger's eye, hawk's eye, sugilite, sodalite and lapis lazuli. Some other commercial rocks like granite and marble may also be confused with charoite.
Charoite deposits commonly form and occur alongside other various minerals, most particularly orange tinaksite and green or black aegerine, which in many cases, are actually inclusions within charoite.
Charoite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers Back to Top
Charoite is a relatively new stone on the market, but only on a commercial level. Since ancient times, charoite minerals have been used for healing and ceremonial purposes. Mongols were known to create ornamental objects from charoite and they ceremoniously boiled stones into tea, which would be consumed with the belief that it could strengthen the ties of family and community, while providing all members with protection from evil spirits.
Often called the 'stone of transformation' and 'the stone of power', charoite earned its pseudonyms through its ability to transform negative emotions into positive feelings of well-being. It is also thought to encourage inner-strength and assertiveness. As a stone of inspiration, charoite is believed to enhance creativity, spirituality and self-esteem. It is a very soulful stone, often used for grounding the spiritual-self, ideal for opening and balancing of the crown, third eye and solar plexus chakras. Physically, charoite is thought to help with the healing of various injuries or disorders, including alcoholism and liver disorders, muscular cramps and headaches, as well as the alleviation of heart, eye and nerve problems. It is believed to help regulate blood pressure and assist with insomnia by inducing powerful but positive dreams.
Charoite Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top
Charoite is relatively soft for most jewelry designs, but it is considerably harder than many of the jewelry gemstones being used today. Also, owing to its fair cleavage, its wearability for jewelry is quite good. It is definitely best suited to 'protective-style' settings or occasional wear designs. Although it is not considered ideal for everyday wear gemstone rings that are exposed to general wear and tear, with care, charoite makes for very attractive cabochon rings. Charoite is ideal for pendants, earrings, necklaces, pins and brooches (it is not so recommended for bracelets). Since charoite is typically cut en cabochon, jewelry settings should be designed accordingly to accommodate such cuts. In addition, settings for cabochons naturally provide more protection in the way they're designed than traditional prong settings.
Charoite occurs in lilac to purple colors, so it is traditionally favored more for ladies' fashion jewelry, but considering the fact that purple symbolizes royalty, charoite can be an interesting and excellent choice of gemstone for bolder gentlemen. Some popular men's jewelry designs include cufflinks, tie-tacks and 'tribal-looking' pendant designs. Over the past few years, charoite has become increasingly popular for both men's jewelry and ladies' jewelry-making.
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.
Charoite Gemstone and Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top
Charoite is rather soft and can easily be scratched by other harder materials, but owing to fair cleavage, it is actually considered to be quite durable. Charoite may need to be repolished every so often in order to remove surface scratches and to retain its attractive luster. You can clean your gemstones using a soft cloth or brush, and use only a mild soap or detergent with warm to room-temperature water. Be sure to rinse well to remove any soapy residue.
Charoite is somewhat sensitive to heat and pressure, so avoid the use of steam cleaners or ultrasonic cleaners, as well as any prolonged exposure to direct sunlight. When storing your charoite gemstones, it is best to store them separately and away from other types of gems and jewelry. If possible, wrap them individually using a soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined box. As with other gemstone jewelry, remove charoite jewelry prior to exercising, playing sports or performing harsh household chores, such as washing dishes.
- First Published: November-28-2013
- Last Updated: April-24-2017
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