Tickled Pink With Floral Hues
Kunzite is the pink to lilac gem quality variety of the mineral spodumene. This mineral was a huge asset being used industrially for medicine, batteries, and paint. However at the dawn of the 20th century beautiful transparent green and pink spodumene ushered the mineral into the jewelry market. The pink to purple variety was named after Tiffany & Co.'s Vice President and mineralogist, George Kunz after he reviewed samples mined from San Diego, California. The green variety was called Hiddenite after another prominent mineralogist, Will Hidden.
Kunzite's beauteous floral color is due to the presence of manganese and the gem is also pleochroic in nature. When tilted the stone will show two subtly different body colors, often shifting from pink to lavender giving the jewel a lively appearance. The more saturated the color, the more valuable kunzite will be and this gem is particularly prized in Japan.
Spodumene as a mineral is plentiful and mined for its lithium content and kunzite is often found in these deposits.
Kunzite is not commonly used in jewelry especially since it is so difficult to cut due to having two cleavage directions. The risk of cutting the gem is high but tempting since the jewel is often found as large eye-clean crystals. It takes care and diligence to realize a faceted kunzite gem, but when produced, they are truly stunning and often used artistically such as Paloma Picasso's 1986 Gift of Tiffany & Co. as seen below.
This stone can be cleaned using warm soapy water and soft brush. When stored, it should be stored wrapped in a soft cloth to prevent scratching softer stones and to avoid damage from harder stones. Avoid harsh chemicals when wearing kunzite or any kind of jewelry.