This unusual gemstone starts its history in the United States, in 1903. It bears its name in honor of George F. Kunz, an American mineralogist, and collector, because of his scientific contribution in mineralogy.
Chemically, Kunzite is a lilac-colored Spodumene. It was first discovered in San Diego, California, nearby the Tourmaline deposits. The Kunzite crystals were of a giant size and weight.
Kunzite showcases a variety of tints, such as deep pink purple, deep rosy lilac, amethyst-pink and others. Its color is due to the presence of lithium inside it in a significant quantity. However, the Greeks called it “spodios,” because of its a so-called ash-colored tint, from whence its chemical name.
Kunzite is a lilac-colored variety of Spodumene, distinguished from its green variety called “Hiddenite,” which was found in North Carolina and from yellow variety, called “Pisani,” found in Brazil. Meanwhile, common Spodumene is of white or gray color, from whence its Greek name.
The principal deposits of Kunzite are in two locations, in Pala, San Diego, and Branchville, Connecticut. The so-called Meridian specimens, found nearly Connecticut, was first taken for Tourmalines. However, George F. Kunz was the first, who explained the “real nature” of Spodumene. Therefore, the scientific mineralogist society, upon the suggestion of Mr. Charles Baskerville, decided to call this mineral “Kunzite.”
Varieties of Spodumene
We know two types of Spodumene found before Kunzite, Hiddenite (named in honor of W.E. Hidden), and yellow Brazilian Spodumene. However, the recent research revealed that the yellow crystals of Spodumene are indeed the crystals of Chrysoberyl. However, the subsequent studies confirmed that the yellow crystals obtained from Brazil were the crystals of Spodumene. The first variety, called “Hiddenite” occurs principally in the colorless and yellow crystals, no more than five karats in weight.
Particular Features of Kunzite
Kunzite possesses the unusual feature called phosphorescence. That means that its crystals possess the illuminated power upon the exposure of the x-rays. This feature is not typical to other crystals of Spodumene. Moreover, Kunzite contains radium bromide, which makes it as a curiosity gemstone to study, and ranks it more valuable among the semi-precious stones.
This feature means that Kunzite can glow with yellowish light. By the way, the only mineral possessing the ditto quality is Diamond. Subsequent studies, undertaken by the scientists supposed a possibility to rank the Kunzite next to the Diamond.
Rarity of Kunzite and its Value
We won’t claim that the Kunzite is the rarest gem in the world. However, there is a lack of deposits. According to the sources of the 19th century, all of the latest specimens of Spodumene obtained from the Californian mines didn’t contain any Kunzites.
Perhaps, the modern mines discovered in the 21st century include this mineral in vast abundance. However, it ‘s hard to confirm this fact. Therefore, any consumer should be careful, while purchasing any jewelry made of Kunzite, especially for a small price.
Kunzite as a Birthstone
Helen Barlett Bridgman in her book “GEMS” claims that the Kunzite enters on the American list of Birthstones, as a Birthstone for September. Moreover, George F. Kunz itself included the Kunzite in a list of Birthstones as a September Birthstone. Therefore, we have proof that such unusual gemstone as a Kunzite is appropriate for September along with the Sapphire.
Image credit to Jarno