Axinite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
When faceted, the members of the axinite mineral group are usually intensely pleochroic, with rich brown and purple colors dominating. Although very rare, these gems could make magnificent jewelry stones.
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When faceted, the members of the axinite mineral group are usually intensely pleochroic, with brown and purple colors dominating. Although very rare, these gems could make magnificent jewelry stones.
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What is Axinite?
Axinites form a mineral group, which includes iron-dominant ferroaxinite, magnesium-dominant magnesioaxinite, and manganese-dominant manganaxinite. Tinzenite is an intermediate member between ferroaxinite and manganaxinite.
Most gem-quality axinites are ferroaxinites, but you'll likely encounter specimens called simply "axinites." However, ideally, you should refer to specific gems by their descriptive names or the designations axinite-(Fe), axinite-(Mg), or axinite-(Mn), respectively.
These strongly pleochroic gems can show three colors, depending on the viewing angle.
Does Axinite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?
Depending on the cut, axinites can show significant brightness or brilliance, a quality highly prized in jewelry stones. With a hardness of 6.5 to 7, axinites of all varieties have "Very Good" wearability grades. This means they can withstand the rigors of use in most jewelry settings.
However, these stones have anisotropic hardness. It may vary within a single specimen depending on the gem's orientation. Axinites also have good cleavage and somewhat brittle tenacity, so avoid jewelry settings where these gems may receive blows. Protective settings are recommended, especially for ring use.
In terms of clarity, axinites are almost never completely free of flaws, such as feathers and veils. Nevertheless, because of their rarity, these exquisite gems would still command the interest of both gem collectors and jewelry enthusiasts.
Although typically biaxial negative, an axinite's optic character may become biaxial positive as its Mg content increases.
Rare magnesioaxinites have demonstrated a slight color change effect. Specimens from Tanzania have shown a pink color under incandescent light and a blue color under fluorescent light. Other changes have also been noted.
This faceted magnesioaxinite shows a very slight color change, from violetish purple in daylight to pink in incandescent light. Diamond step cut, 0.53 cts, 7.1 x 5.7 mm, Merelani, Tanzania. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.
Distinguishing Axinite from Andalusite
Axinite and another rare gemstone, andalusite, have overlapping ranges of body and trichroic colors as well as hardness. However, axinite's refractive index (RI) range and specific gravity (SG) range exceed those of andalusite.
Are There Synthetic Axinites?
Where are Axinites Found?
Axinites occur in many localities across the globe, but gem-quality material is rare. Notable sources include the following:
- United States: Arizona; New Melones, Calaveras County; Coarse Gold, Madera County; Yuba County, California (gemmy material); New Jersey; Luning, Nevada (masses); Pennsylvania.
- Bourg d'Oisans, France: manganaxinite (SG = 3.28, RI = 1.68-1.69, in pockets in schist).
- Sri Lanka: ferroaxinite, cinnamon-brown (RIs = 1.675/1.681/1.685, birefringence = 0.010, SG = 3.31).
- Tasmania, Australia; Brazil; Finland; Germany; Italy; Japan; Baja California, Mexico; Norway; Pakistan; Russia; Switzerland (tinzenite); Tanzania (magnesioaxinite and manganaxinite); Cornwall, United Kingdom.
Axinites with clean clarity over five carats are difficult to find and worthy of museum display. Faceted specimens of any type over ten carats are rare. Material from Baja California will yield gems to about 25 carats. However, if clean, these stones will cut less than five carats.
- Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 23.6 (brown, Mexico).
- Private Collection: 16.5 (Baja California).
- Geological Museum (Natural History Museum, London): 0.78 (magnesioaxinite, Tanzania).
Caring for Axinites
Although axinites have very good wearability, their inclusions may pose risks if these gems are cleaned in mechanical systems. Have a gemologist examine them, identify any inclusions, and recommend a cleaning method. Since axinites also have some heat sensitivity, avoid boiling or steam cleaning. A soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water can serve as a safe alternative. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.
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.”
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