Kunzite Quality Factors
Kunzite is the pink-to-violet variety of the mineral spodumene, and gets its colour from manganese. It’s most often found in shades of pale pink, but more vivid colours are possible and it can achieve rare hues of vivid violet to purple.
Kunzite’s colour can be enhanced by irradiation followed by heating. Whether natural or enhanced, the colour can fade when exposed to heat and intense light. It’s a good idea to store kunzite jewellery in a closed jewellery box or case when it’s not being worn.
Kunzite is pleochroic, which means it can display different colours in different crystal directions. Kunzite displays its best, most intense colour down the length of its crystals.
Kunzite crystals often have relatively few inclusions, so “clean” finished gems in jewellery are common.
Kunzite can present problems for cutters. It has two directions of cleavage, which means that the gem can split cleanly along those directions. As a result, kunzite has been known to simply fall apart from the pressure applied during faceting. In addition, kunzite’s colour is usually concentrated down its length, or C-axis. Cutters must factor these properties into their plans when fashioning gems.
Kunzite appears in a wide variety of shapes and cutting styles. Because many crystals are relatively inclusion-free, step-cut stones are fairly common.
Skilled cutters have fashioned kunzite into every imaginable shape and style. Some have even carved the gem. Also, many kunzites are cut deep to maximise the colour.
Kunzite is often found in large sizes. The Smithsonian Institution houses a faceted 880-carat heart-shaped example.