round brilliant andalusite - Brazil
round brilliant andalusite - Brazil

Andalusite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Strongly pleochroic, andalusite can show shades of green, brown, and red when viewed from different directions. Although tough enough for most jewelry uses, this strikingly beautiful stone is largely unknown to the gem buying public.

4 Minute Read

Strongly pleochroic, andalusite can show shades of green, brown, and red when viewed from different directions. Although tough enough for most jewelry uses, this strikingly beautiful stone is largely unknown to the gem buying public.

round brilliant andalusite - Brazil
4.49-ct andalusite, medium-dark brownish green/orange-brown, round brilliant cut, 10.1 mm, Brazil. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

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Andalusite Value

1 to 4 carats
Top Color
to /ct
Medium Color
to /ct
4 carats plus
Top Color
to /ct
Medium Color
to /ct

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andalusites - Brazil
Andalusite: Brazil (7.55, 2.40, 2.92, 9.55). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Is Andalusite Rare?

Andalusite is polymorphous with kyanite and sillimanite. This means these gemstones share the same chemistry but have different crystal habits. Although andalusite occurs abundantly as a mineral, material transparent enough to facet occurs quite rarely.

How Many Colors Can Andalusite Show?

andalusites
Andalusites. Photo by cobalt123. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.

Andalusite has very distinctive and attractive pleochroism. This gem can show up to three different colors (trichroism) depending on the viewing angle and the gem's cut and orientation. Sometimes, andalusites can even show multiple colors from one viewing angle.

What are the Best Gem Shapes for Andalusite Jewelry?

Gem shapes with a long axis such as ovals, marquise, or emerald cuts tend to show one color near the center and a second, usually darker color, near the ends. Square and round cuts usually blend the colors into a mosaic.

Sometimes, lapidaries cut these stones to show pink and almost colorless shades. Others cut to display green in the center of these stones, with browns or various other combinations on the tips, depending on the rough orientation before cutting.

Poorly cut and polished stones may appear dull. As Type II clarity grade gems, andalusites usually contain inclusions, so a large, eye-clean, well-cut andalusite will demand attention. With a hardness of 6.5 to 7.5, it could find a home in almost any type of jewelry setting.

pear-cut andalusite
3.01-ct andalusite, eye clean, medium-dark yellowish green/reddish brown, pear brilliant cut, 14.3 x 6.9 mm, Brazil. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Andalusite Varieties

Cat's Eyes

Fibrous inclusions in andalusites may create a chatoyant effect, and lapidaries can sometimes cab such stones to showcase this. However, such cat's eye pieces are extremely rare.

Viridine

This grass to deep green variety of andalusite contains manganese.

andalusite - viridine
Grass-green to brown viridine crystals on matrix, 4.5 x 2.7 x 2.3 cm, Recruta Farm, Vitoria da Conquista, Bahia, Northeast Region, Brazil. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Blue Andalusite

Andalusites from Ottré, Belgium have a blue color due to an Fe+2-Fe+3 charge transfer mechanism.

Chiastolite

You may find chiastolites for sale as trapiche andalusites. These gray crystals have black, carbonaceous inclusions in cruciform patterns in their interior. Due to these impurities, chiastolite has a lower hardness and specific gravity (SG) than other andalusite varieties.

Since it's opaque, this variety is cut more or less as a curiosity. Typically, cross sections of chiastolite may show well-formed black crosses on a gray background. However, occasionally lapidaries cut these specimens into different shapes, such as spheres.

Handmade chiastolite jewelry from Laraquete, Bío Bío Region, Chile. Photo by Mar del Sur. Licensed under CC By-SA 4.0.

How Can You Identify Andalusites?

With its trichroic red, green, and brown colors, andalusite may seem easy to distinguish from other gemstones. However, tourmalines have a similar hardness, color range, SG range, and moderate to strong pleochroism as well. Too casual observations of pleochroic colors can lead to confusion between these two different species of gems. (On the other hand, andalusites have a biaxial optic character, while tourmalines have a uniaxial optic character).

In fact, clever cutting can mimic andalusite's strong pleochroism. For example, a predominantly brown synthetic quartz piece with a shallow green layer near its periphery was cut to show off both the colors, as real andalusites might. Again, more careful observation will distinguish the real item from a simulant.

faceted andalusite
Faceted andalusite. Photo by Casse-cailloux. Public Domain. (Cropped to show detail).

Are There Synthetic Andalusites?

Scientists have synthesized andalusite crystals via the hydrothermal method for research purposes. However, there is no known jewelry use for this material. If this gem becomes more well-known, perhaps that will change.

Enhancements

Andalusites may rarely receive heat treatments to improve color.

Andalusite Sources

Andalusite is eponymous with Andalusia, a region in southern Spain. This gem received this name from the French mineralogist Jean-Claude Delamétherie in 1798, after its supposed source. However, the material he examined came from Castile-La Mancha, a region squarely in the center of Spain. In fact, andalusite's chiastolite variety had already been described by the Spaniard José Turrubia in 1754. Nevertheless, the name "andalusite" stuck, and so did references to Andalusia as the type locality.

Although Andalusia does produce colorless andalusites, the type locality should be noted as El Cardoso de la Sierra, Guadalajara, Castile-La Mancha, Spain.

Currently, Brazil is the main source of these gems, where they can be found as pebbles in stream beds or on hillsides under layers of clay.

Other notable gem sources include the following:

  • United States: California; Colorado; Maine; Massachusetts; New Mexico; Pennsylvania; South Dakota (Black Hills).
  • Belgium: blue crystals.
  • Myanmar: dull green material found in gem gravels.
  • Sri Lanka: gem material found as waterworn pebbles, sometimes large size.
  • Australia; Austria; Madagascar; Russia; Spain; Zimbabwe.
andalusites - Austria
Andalusites, 7.5 x 5.4 x 5.4 cm, Lisenz, Tyrol, Austria. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

How Large Can Andalusites Grow?

Gems from Brazil can reach 75 to 100 carats. However, gems from most localities usually range from 1 to 5 carats. Andalusites in the 5 to 10-carat range cost several times more per carat than smaller stones. Stones over 10 carats are quite rare, and those over 20 carats are still rarer.

  • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 28.3 (brown, Brazil), 13.5 (green/brown, Brazil).
  • Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada): 12.44 (Brazil).

Caring for Your Andalusite Jewelry

Although resistant to scratching due to its hardness, andalusite has distinct cleavage and brittle tenacity. Therefore, ring stones should have protective settings to avoid blows.

Before subjecting any rare andalusites to mechanical cleaning systems, have a gemologist examine them and identify any inclusions they may have. While andalusites have a "Very Good" wearability score, inclusions of liquids or other minerals could shatter if heated or vibrated, thus damaging your gems. In the meantime, to be safe, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water instead. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

andalusites - artistic colored stones
Andalusites. Photos courtesy of Barbara Smigel, Artistic Colored Stones.

Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com


Donald Clark, CSM IMG

The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”


Barbara Smigel, PhD. GG

Barbara Smigel is a GIA certified gemologist, facetor, jewelry designer, gem dealer, gemology instructor and creator of the well-regarded educational websites acstones.com and bwsmigel.info.


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