Kunzite: Gem Variety of Spodumene Which Is A Source Of High-Purity Lithium

Kunzite is a gemstone that is highly desirable and comes in a range of pink to violet crystals. It's difficult to cut due to its two cleavage directions yet when it is cut, the result is a dazzling gemstone that shines beautifully.

 

 

Kunzite is the most well known variety of the mineral spodumene and is named after the gemologist, George Frederick Kunz who was the first to identify it as a unique variety of spodumene. The gem gets its lovely color from trace amounts of manganese.

The name of the mineral, Spodumene, comes from the Greek word, Spodumenos which means burnt to ashes. This comes from the natural opaque, ash grey appearance of the mineral. 

 

Lithium Connection

 

According to the Gemological Institute of America, the pegmatites that yield kunzite are also a source of lithium. Geology.com notes that mineral, spodumene, is often found in lithium-rich pegmatites and is associated with other lithium minerals such as lepidolite, petalite and eucryptite. The chemical composition of spodumene is LiAlSi2O6 but in some cases, small amounts of sodium may substitute the lithium.

Spodumene also once served as the most important ore of lithium metal. Although it's costly to extract the lithium from the mineral, lithium refined form it is of very high purity.