Feature Gems & Gemology, Summer 1987, Vol. 23, No. 2

The Occurrence and Gemological Properties of Wessels Mine Sugilite

Examination of jewelry-quality sugilite shows that it consists of manganese-bearing sugilite and other minerals in a polycrystalline aggregate. The material occurs in a large stratiform manganese orebody at the Wessels mine near Kuruman, South Africa. Some 12 to 15 tons of sugilite of varying quality are estimated to occur at the mine. The attractive purple color is due to the presence of about 1-3 wt. % manganese oxide. The research reported here revealed that there are actually two types of gem materials that have heretofore been called sugilite: one that is predominantly manganoan sugilite with minor impurity minerals, and the other that is chalcedony mixed with (and colored by) sugilite.