Apatite is the name for a mineral group as well as the generic term for many phosphates, but gem-quality apatite is a special gemstone found in a beautiful variety of colors. Apatite's color is often due to the presence of rare earth elements or natural irradiation. Because of its wide color range, apatite has often been mistaken for many other gemstones, including topaz, tourmaline, and various kinds of beryl. As it is a relatively soft gem that can have pale translucency, apatite is often used in earrings where it will capture light and safely display its best beauty. The long-established source of gem-quality apatite is Brazil, though the mineral is found all over the world.
|Apatite is a relatively soft gem better suited for earrings, pendants, or necklaces than for rings or bracelets, which can suffer direct blows during wear. While it is not just a collector's gem, apatite should be stored separately from jewelry that might scratch its surface and dull its luster. Apatite jewelry should be cleaned with water, mild soap, and a soft cloth. Avoid heat, ultrasonic, and steam cleaners.|
|Apatite occurs in almost every color of the spectrum, including yellows, greens, blues, and violets, as well as colorless. Rosy reds and pinks also exist but are quite rare. |
|Much like other colored stones, it is primarily the intensity and saturation of its color that determines apatite's value. The neon-blue apatite so reminiscent of Paraiba tourmaline is currently the most valuable color of apatite.|
History and Lore
Apatite came from the Greek word apatao, which means 'to deceive,' because it was commonly confused with other stones like aquamarine and emerald. Apatite was properly identified in the 1780s.
Apatite is a truly beautiful, yet remarkably unknown gem primarily owned by the more serious jewelry and gemstone collectors. In fact, you will rarely find it available in traditional jewelry stores. Considering the attributes that have been associated with apatite through history, it should be nicknamed 'the gemstone of positive thinking.' It has been said to foster one's creativity, intelligence, communication skills, self confidence and concentration.
Carbonate hydroxylapatite, a mineral in the apatite family, makes up the majority of human bones and teeth. Apatite minerals are also the primary source of phosphorus, which is used to make matches, fireworks, and fertilizer. That's one hot gemstone!