Kunzite History and Lore

George Frederick Kunz
Kunzite is a relative newcomer to the array of coloured stones available for use in jewellery. 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 unrecognised colour made the find a new variety of the mineral.

This photograph of a kunzite crystal was taken by George F. Kunz, the pioneering gemologist the gem is named after. - Courtesy USGS
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.

This photograph shows Charles Baskerville’s historic collection of kunzite crystals. - Wendell Wilson
In the years since, kunzite has proven to be a highly desirable gem. Occurring in attractive shades of pink to violet, kunzite crystals are also often large, with relatively few inclusions. Though difficult to cut due to its two cleavage directions, it lends itself to lovely finished gems that show magnificently in fine jewellery.

This lovely pendant features a pear-shaped kunzite with a diamond accent. - Robert Weldon, courtesy The Greenwood Group