Kunzite

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 HISTORY and LORE

  • Kunzite is a relative newcomer to the array of colored stones available for use in jewelry. As the story goes, specimens of an as-yet-unidentified pink crystal were found in San Diego County, California, and sent to Tiffany & Co.’s mineralogist, George Frederick Kunz. The year was 1902. Kunz was able to confirm that the crystals were, in fact, spodumene, but the previously unrecognized color made the find a new variety of the mineral.
  • Charles Baskerville, a chemistry professor at the University of North Carolina and later the City College of New York, subsequently named kunzite in honor of George Kunz in 1903.
  • In the years since, kunzite has proven to be a highly desirable gem.

 

VALUE FACTORS

  • Color: Occurring in attractive shades of pink to violet, kunzite crystals are also often large.
  • Clarity: It is not uncommon to find kunzites that are virtually inclusion-free, so the presence of many eye-visible inclusions will greatly lower its value.
  • Cut: Though difficult to cut due to its two cleavage directions, it lends itself to lovely finished gems that show magnificently in fine jewelry. Usually faceted in traditional shapes and styles.
  • Carat Weight: It’s not unusual to find kunzite in large sizes. There is an extremely large example that weighs 648.10 carats.

 

GEMOLOGY

  • Kunzite is the best-known variety of the mineral spodumene. It’s named after famed gemologist George Frederick Kunz, who was the first to identify it as a unique variety of spodumene. Kunzite gets its delicate color from trace amounts of manganese. California’s San Diego County is an important source of kunzite.
  • Chemical formula LiAlSi2O6.

 

CARE

Kunzites generally have good wearablility.

  • Hardness: Moderate scratch resistance. Rates 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.
  • Toughness: Kunzite can break under pressure or sharp temperature changes, or fade under heat and bright light.
  • Stability: Kunzite’s color can be enhanced by irradiation followed by heat treatment. As with naturally colored kunzite, treated color can fade with exposure to heat and light.
  • Cleaning: Warm, soapy water is safe to use when cleaning kunzite jewelry.

 

 

 

 

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