neon blue-green apatite
neon blue-green apatite

Apatite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Although too brittle for most jewelry use, properly cut apatite gems are truly magnificent. A collector could assemble a suite of as many as twenty of these bright gems, all with different colors.

5 Minute Read

Although too brittle for most jewelry use, properly cut apatite gems are truly magnificent. A collector could assemble a suite of as many as twenty of these bright gems, all with different colors.

neon blue-green apatite
Neon blue-green apatite, 1.99-ct, emerald/radiant cut. © All That Glitters. Used with permission.

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Apatite Value

.3 to 1 carat
“Neon Blue”
to /ct
Brazil Blue
to /ct
Other Colors
1 to 3 carats
“Neon Blue”
to /ct
Brazil Blue
to /ct
Other Colors
3 carats plus
“Neon Blue”
to /ct
Brazil Blue
to /ct
Other Colors
All Sizes
“Neon Blue”
Brazil Blue
Other Colors
to /ct

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Blue Brazilian apatites and those with a “neon” blue-green color, similar to that of Paraíba tourmalines, command the highest prices. Rare, rich purple specimens from Maine are also highly prized.

hexagon-cut gem
Purple, hexagon-cut apatite, 0.30 cts, 4.1 mm, Auburn, Maine. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Since apatites are relatively soft stones, skilled faceters can add a premium to their value with exceptional polishes.

As with most gems, color saturation, size, and clarity are the major determiners of value.

apatites - various cuts and locations
Apatites: Myanmar (colorless, 7.34), Mexico (antique, 8.70), Brazil (green,1.09; blue, 0.86)// Madagascar (light blue, 1.07), Brazil-? (green, 12.40; dark green , 2.87), Canada (green, 8.05)// Brazil (dark blue, 0.55), Madagascar (light blue,1.07), Maine (violet,1.02). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
hydroxylapatite ring
Silver ring with bone apatite (carbonated hydroxylapatite). Jewelry and photo by Mauro Cateb. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

What is Apatite?

The apatite mineral group occurs abundantly throughout the world. In fact, bones and teeth consist mainly of a variety known as hydroxylapatite. As collophane, a massive cryptocrystalline variety that occurs in some localities as large beds, apatite also serves as the most abundant phosphorus-bearing mineral.

mimetite - Namibia
Yellow, rectangular radiant-cut mimetite, 0.61 cts, 4.8 x 3.4 mm, Tsumeb, Namibia. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Most of the gemstones referred to as apatite are of the commonest variety, fluorapatite. Other gem-quality apatites include the aforementioned hydroxylapatite as well as carbonate-rich apatite, mimetite, moroxite, vanadinite, wilkeite, and the rare chlorapatite.

Lazurapatite, a mixture of lapis lazuli and apatite, occurs in Siberia.

Strictly speaking mineralogically, the term "apatite" refers to the mineral group only. Individual varieties should be referred to by their specific names. However, you'll frequently find many gemstones described and sold as just "apatites," without further classification.

Does Apatite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

Prior to the discovery of the now coveted neon blue-green apatites in Madagascar, these colorful but little-known gemstones seldom found their way into jewelry collections. Nevertheless, mineral collectors prized them not only for their colors but also their beautiful fluorescence.

  • green fluorapatite (apatite) - Portugal
  • fluorescent fluorapatite - apatite - Portugal

    The green and colorless zones of this fluorapatite fluoresce yellow and blue-white, respectively. Fluorapatite crystal with phantoms and fluorescence, 5.5 ⨉ 4.1 ⨉ 1.8 cm, Panasqueira Mine, Covilha, Castelo Branco District, Portugal. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

    Since the Madagascar finds, the jewelry use of apatites of all colors has increased. Although the color of the best neon-blue green specimens can approximate that of the storied Paraíba tourmalines, all gem-quality apatites have a hardness of 5 at best. Unfortunately, apatites don't have the toughness of their tourmaline rivals. As jewelry stones, they will require special care.

    Notable Apatite Colors and Varieties

    In addition to prized blue-greens and purples, apatites can occur in other beautiful colors.

    Mexican Yellow Apatite

    Mexican yellow apatite is perhaps the most abundant gem material available. Thousands of crystals exist that would cut stones up to five carats.

    • yellow apatite crystal - Mexico
    • yellow apatite gem - Mexico

      This large faceted yellow gem is unusually clean for an apatite. Apatite rough-and-cut set, 5.2 ⨉ 4.4 ⨉ 4.3 cm (crystal), 1.8 ⨉ 1.8 ⨉ 1.4 cm, 25.5 cts (gem), Cerro Mercado, Durango, Mexico. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

      Cat's Eye Apatite

      Chatoyancy can occur in blue-green and green gems from Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Brazil can produce green cat's eyes. Sri Lanka and Tanzania can produce yellow cat's eyes. The chatoyancy in Tanzanian apatites can be so intense that the material resembles cat's eye chrysoberyl.

      cat's eye apatites - India
      Cat's eye apatites, India (~2.4, 5.6). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

      Asparagus Stone

      Light green apatites are sometimes referred to by the trade name "asparagus stones."

      Apatite Properties and Identification

      Distinguishing Apatite and Tourmaline

      Aside from a destructive scratch test to determine hardness, distinguishing faceted apatites from tourmalines can sometimes prove challenging. Many of their properties overlap. Read this article on difficult separations for tips on identifying these gems.

      Apatite Properties by Variety and Locality

      VarietyLocalityColoroeBirefringenceSG
      ChlorapatiteJapanyellow1.6581.6530.005-
      HydroxylapatiteHoly Springs, Georgia-1.6511.6440.0073.21
      FluorapatiteFinlandblue-green1.6331.6290.0043.2
      HydroxylapatiteSweden (with Mn)blue-green1.6461.6410.0053.22
      FluorapatiteSwedencolorless1.6341.6310.0033.27
      Carbonate apatite with FluorineDevonshire, England (francolite)-1.6291.6240.0053.14
      HydroxylapatiteMexicoyellow1.6341.6300.004-
      FluorapatiteCanadagreen1.6321.6290.003-
      FluorapatiteMainepurple1.6331.6300.003-
      Carbonate apatiteSt Paul's Rocks, Atlantic Ocean-1.6031.5980.005-
      Cut gemstoneKenyadark green1.6411.6370.004-
      Cut gemstoneZimbabweyellow-green1.6431.6380.005-
      Cut gemstoneMexicoyellow1.6371.6330.004-
      Cut gemstoneMadagascardark green1.6371.6320.005-
      Cut gemstoneMyanmargreen1.6361.6320.004-
      Cut gemstoneBrazildeep blue1.6381.6320.006-
      Cut gemstoneCanadagreen1.6321.6280.004-
      Cut gemstoneSri Lanka (cat's eye)brown1.647-1.6491.640-1.6420.007-
      Cut gemstoneTanzania (cat's eye)yellow1.636-1.6401.632-1.6370.0043.22-3.35

      Birefringence

      • Chlorapatites have the lowest birefringence (~0.001).
      • Fluorapatites: 0.004.
      • Hydroxylapatites: 0.007.
      • Carbonate apatites can range as high as 0.008. (The francolite variety can even reach 0.013).
      francolite
      Francolite (carbonate-rich apatite), 6.9 ⨉ 6.3 ⨉ 3.5 cm, Fowey Consols (Wheals Treasure; Fortune; Chance; Polharmon; Lanescot), Tywardreath, Par Area, St Austell District, Cornwall, England, UK. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

      Luminescence

      • Yellow apatites fluoresce lilac-pink in shortwave (SW) and longwave (LW) ultraviolet light, (though stronger in LW).
      • Blue apatites fluoresce violet-blue to sky blue.
      • Violet material fluoresces greenish-yellow (LW) or pale mauve (SW).
      • Green apatites fluoresce a greenish mustard color, though stronger in LW than SW.
      • Manganapatite fluoresces pink in SW. In this variety, manganese (Mn) replaces calcium (Ca).
      • pink apatite - normal light
      • pink apatite - UV light

        Pink apatite and aquamarine on a matrix of white orthoclase under normal light and under ultraviolet light. Photos by Géry Parent. Public domain.

        Can You Distinguish Synthetic from Natural Apatites?

        Laboratories have synthesized apatite for medical research, agricultural fertilizer, and industrial laser applications. Some of the stones created for laser research have, in fact, found their way into gem use. The Gemological Institute of America has reported that these synthetics display an unusual color change effect. Natural apatites don't display color change.

        Enhancements

        Heating can improve color, especially for blue and blue-green stones. Careful heating can turn yellow Mexican material colorless.

        Apatite Sources

        Brazil, Canada, India, Madagascar, and Mexico produce most gem-quality apatites.

        Notable gem-quality sources, organized by color, include the following:

        • Blue: Brazil, Myanmar; Sri Lanka.
        • Blue-green: Madagascar (neon blue-green); Arendal, Norway (moroxite variety); Gravelotte, East Transvaal, South Africa.
        • Violet: Germany; Portugal; Maine, California, United States.
        • Yellow: Brazil; Canada; Durango, Mexico; Murcia, Spain.
        • Green: Canada (trade name, trilliumite); India; Kenya; Madagascar; Mozambique; Myanmar; Portugal; Spain.
        • Brown: Canada.
        • Colorless: Germany; Italy; Myanmar.
        • Cat's eye: Brazil; India; Myanmar; Sri Lanka; Tanzania.
        apatites on siderite - Portugal
        Apatite crystals on siderite, Panasqueira, Portugal. Photo by Thomas Spann. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

        Stone Sizes

        Cut apatites are uncommon in museum collections.

        Blue gems (Brazil) almost always range on the small side (1-2 carats). Myanmar produces 10-carat blue gems. However, this color is very scarce in larger sizes.

        Yellow gems from Mexico up to 15-20 carats are known, but larger ones are quite rare.

        The rarest and smallest in general, violet stones usually fall under 2 carats. However, the Roebling purple apatite in the Smithsonian Institution weighs approximately 100 grams (500 carats), a superb crystal.

        Blue-green clean stones usually weigh less than 5 carats, very rarely more.

        Green apatite occurs in large crystals. Canadian material has yielded 100-carat flawless stones. The world's largest golden green gem may be a 147-carat stone from Kenya.

        Yellowish cat's eyes range up to about 15 carats, while green cat's eyes can weigh a bit larger (20 carats).

        Caring for Apatite Jewelry

        Brittle and sensitive, apatites must be cut and worn gently. Although difficult to cut and polish, apatites faceted with gem designs for quartz, tourmaline, and topaz will look wonderful.

        For rings, use protective settings and reserve for occasional wear. Earrings, pendants, pins, and tie tacks make safer jewelry options. Since apatites are acid, heat, and shock sensitive, they deserve the same storage, care, and cleaning regimen as opals. Never use mechanical cleaning systems on these pieces. For more recommendations, consult our gemstone jewelry care guide.

        Apatite: Brazil (11.4). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

        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


        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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