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By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk

Sugilite Gemstone Information

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About Sugilite - History and Introduction

Sugilite is a rare purple cyclosilicate mineral that was named after the Japanese petrologist, Ken-ichi Sugi, who first identified it in 1944 in Iwagi Islet, Japan. However, this occurred as brownish-yellow grains that were not suitable for use as gemstones. A significant deposit of gem-quality material was later discovered in 1979 at a manganese mine in the Southern Kalahari Desert of South Africa. In 1980 sugilite was officially classified as a rare gem, which caused its price to increase. Since then, additional deposits have been discovered, but since these are small, it remains a rare gem.

Sugilite gets its attractive purple color from traces of manganese. It can range in color from pinkish-purple to deep bluish-purple. The most highly valued sugilite gemstones are a uniform and intense purple. A great deal of sugilite has patches, veins or layers, and attractive or interesting patterns are also desirable in sugilite gemstones.

Sugilite Gemstone

Identifying Sugilite

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Sugilite can be identified by its distinctive dark-pink or purple color, which can be uniform or mottled, veined or layered. Sugilite usually occurs in massive form and crystals are extremely rare. Sugilite may be mixed with chalcedony quartz, or black matrix, which results in variable distinguishing characteristics, such as hardness. A combination of traits, such as color, Mohs hardness of 5.5 to 6.5 and chemical composition can be used to identify sugilite. Chalcedony has a lower density (2.58 to 2.64) compared to 2.76 to 2.8 for sugilite. Therefore, testing for density can separate the two or provide some indication of the chalcedony content.

Sugilite; Origin and Gemstone Sources

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Sugilite was first discovered in Japan. Significant amounts of gem-quality material occurs in polycrystalline aggregate form in bedded manganese deposits at the Wessels Mine in South Africa. Small amounts of rare pink crystals have been found in Madhya Pradesh, India. Other deposits have recently been found in Australia (New South Wales), Tajikistan, Italy and Canada (Quebec).

Buying Sugilite and Determining Sugilite Gemstone Value

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Sugilite Color

Sugilite gemstones range in color, and can be pinkish, lilac, plum, magenta, reddish-purple and bluish-purple. It may be a uniform color or have a mottled, veined, blotchy or layered appearance. Cabochons may also contain black matrix (the host rock). Sugilite can also contain yellowish or reddish blotches and light purple or white patches. The most desirable color is a uniform reddish-purple. However, gemstones with interesting or attractive patterns may also command high prices.

Sugilite Clarity and Luster

Sugilite may have minor impurities or it may be mixed with chalcedony. It can have black matrix inclusions, veins, blotches, or layers. The luster is vitreous, resinous or waxy. Most sugilite is opaque with some rare gemstones showing translucency.

Sugilite Cut and Shape

Translucent sugilite can be faceted. However, most materials are opaque, and are carved or cut en cabochon. Sugilite is also used for inlay work, tumbled and drilled for beads.

Sugilite Treatment

Sugilite is generally untreated and not enhanced. However, dark colored sugilite can be lightened by heating. Imitation sugilite is known and sugilite is occasionally dyed to enhance color. All reputable gemstone traders declare any treatment or enhancement.

Sugilite Gemological Properties:

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Chemical Formula: Na3KLi2 (Fe3+Mn3+,Al) 2 [Si12O30] Potassium sodium lithium iron manganese aluminium silicate
Crystal Structure: Hexagonal
Color: Pinkish to violet
Hardness: 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale
Refractive Index: 1.544 to 1.611
Density: 2.76 to 2.8
Cleavage: Indistinct
Transparency: Opaque to translucent
Double Refraction or Birefringence: 0.001 to 0.004
Luster: Vitreous, resinous, waxy
Fluorescence: Usually none

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

Sugilite: Related or Similar Gemstones

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Iolite Gemstone

Sugilite belongs to the cyclosilicate mineral group, and therefore has a similar structure to beryl (emerald), iolite and tourmaline.

Sugilite has a polycrystalline aggregate composition. This means that it is composed of many crystallites, or small, microscopic crystals of various sizes and orientations. One of the microscopic crystals (also referred to as "grains") that can be intermixed with sugilite is chalcedony.

Sugilite is also referred to as "sugilite jade" or "purple turquoise", though it is not related to either. "Wesselite" is another synonym name for sugilite, due to the discovery of a deposit of translucent material in the Wessels Manganese Mine in South Africa. Other trade names for sugilite include "royal azel", "cybeline", "royal lazelle", "lavulite", "luvulite" and "royal lavulite".

Sugilite Gemstone Mythology, Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers

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Sugilite is believed to provide positive energy and to help its wearer to focus on desired achievements. Additionally, sugilite is thought to reduce stress and encourage feelings of spiritual love. In traditional Hindu belief systems, sugilite is associated with Sahasrara, or the crown chakra. This chakra is related to higher consciousness, the pineal gland and the pituitary gland. In feng shui, sugilite has yang fire energy. Sugilite is not a traditional birthstone.

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.

Sugilite Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas

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Sugilite is a versatile material that can be used in the form of beads, inlay, drilled gemstones, faceted gemstones and cabochons to create a wide range of striking purple jewelry. In fine jewelry, sugilite is often set in yellow gold, which provides an interesting contrast. Bulgari's sugilite ring is yellow gold. Dior's "Queen of sugilite" ring has a carved sugilite skull set in platinum, accompanied by pave set diamonds. Dior's "Mini D" and "VIII" watches have sugilite dials. Mexican tribal-style jewelry uses sugilite along with other brightly colored gemstones in silver and gold mosaic inlay settings. Sugilite is a gemstone that can be used for both ladies' and men's jewelry.

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 Sugilite Gemstones

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Sugilite has net achieved world-fame. However, sugilite jewels have been seen on the red carpet. Naomi Watts wore a pair of sugilite drop earrings to the Critics' Choice Awards in 2013.

An Intarsia Butterfly Box, created by Nikolai Medvedev featuring malachite and sugilite inlay is displayed in San Diego Natural History Museum's "All That Glitters" exhibition.

Sugilite Gemstone Jewelry Care and Cleaning

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How to clean your gemstonesSugilite is fairly tough and durable due to its indistinct cleavage. Since household dust contains quartz, which has a Mohs scale hardness of 7, simply wiping dust from a sugilite gemstone could cause scratches. The best way to clean sugilite gemstones is by using soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue. As with most gemstones, ultrasonic cleaners and steamers are not recommended. Always remove any jewelry or gemstones before exercising, cleaning or engaging in harsh physical activities such as sport. Store sugilite gemstones away from other gemstones to avoid scratches. It is best to wrap gemstones in soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined jewelry box.

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