Kunzite is the pretty pink, most popular, and commercially important variety of the spodumene family, cousin to hiddenite (green spodumene) and triphane (yellow spodumene). Kunzite has to be oriented particularly and cut carefully in order to achieve the deepest tone and saturation, because the stone's best color is seen when looking down the length of the crystal. Stones of 10 carats or larger display kunzite's pretty hue the best, though it can be found in quite large crystals over 1,000 carats.
|Kunzite is safely cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft brush or cloth or in an ionic cleaner. It should never been cleaned in ultrasonic or steam cleaners. While kunzite's hardness is relatively good, its cleavage can cause it to break under extreme circumstances, so gentle wear is recommended. The delicate, pastel colors of kunzite can fade under prolonged exposure to high heat or bright lights.|
|Kunzite occurs in delicate, pretty shades of violet-purple (lilac) and pink. |
|As with most gemstones, darker color and deeper saturation are generally considered the most valuable kunzites. While most kunzite is light pink, more intensely saturated pink and violet-purple are ideal. When buying and valuing kunzite, the best color is preferred, followed closely by the best clarity. Kunzite is a type I gem, so it is usually eye-clean with no visible inclusions.|
Name Origin and Meaning
Kunzite was named after George Frederick Kunz, an American geologist, mineralogist, collector, and author, in 1902.
Discovery and History
It's clear that kunzite was discovered in the Pala District Mines in San Diego County, California, but when it was discovered and who discovered it is not as settled. It's believed that it was in 1877, but the first significant commercial deposit was found there in 1902. It was then officially identified as a new gem-quality variety of spodumene and named kunzite. Some sources even state that kunzite was discovered in 1902 in Connecticut. Kunzite deposits were found in Afghanistan and Brazil after World War II.
Kunzite crystals grow to be exceptionally large. In fact, crystals weighing hundreds and even well over 1,000 carats have been found with fine color, and faceted kunzites exist that are nearly as large. The University of Delaware's mineral museum houses a faceted, pear-shaped, 614-carat kunzite, which is believed to be the second largest faceted kunzite in the world, topped only by a 880-carat kunzite on display in the Smithsonian Institution's collection in Washington D.C.
Pretty kunzite holds an interesting secret for the unknowing gem enthusiast: kunzite is pleochroic (or more specifically, trichroic), meaning it can appear up to three different colors, depending on the angle from which it is viewed. Kunzites from Afghanistan in particular can appear very strongly violet from one angle, light purple/violet from another, and--surprise!--pale green from a third angle.