Axinite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
When faceted, the members of the axinite mineral group are usually intensely trichroic, with considerable brilliance and rich brown and purple colors dominating. Although very rare, these gems could make magnificent jewelry stones.
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|Varieties||Ferro-axinite, Magnesio-axinite, Manganaxinite|
|Crystallography||Triclinic. Distinctive wedge-shaped crystals; also tabular|
|Colors||Violet-brown, colorless, reddish purple, pink, orange, yellowish (Mn), greenish, pale violet to reddish (Mn), violetish blue, blue (Mg).|
|Fracture||Uneven to conchoidal|
|Hardness||6.5 - 7, variable with direction|
|Specific Gravity||3.26-3.36; magnesioaxinite = 3.18|
|Cleavage||Good 1 direction|
|Luminescence||Red in SW (Franklin, New Jersey). Dull red in SW, orange-red in LW (Tanzania: magnesioaxinite).|
|Transparency||Translucent to transparent.|
|Absorption Spectrum||Narrow line at 5120, broad lines at 4920 and 4660, also at 4150. Sometimes lines visible at 5320, 4440, and 4150 (latter may be strong).|
|Phenomena||Color change (Very Rare).|
|Formula||(Ca, Mn, Fe, Mg)3Al2BSi4O15(OH).
|Pleochroism||Intense in all colored varieties: cinnamon brown/violet-blue/olive green, yellow, or colorless.
|Optics||α = 1.674 - 1.693; β = 1.681 - 1.701; γ = 1.684 - 1.704. Magnesioaxinite: α = 1.656; β = 1.660; γ = 1.668 Biaxial (-), 2V = 63-80° or more. However, may turn (+) if high in Mg.|
|Etymology||From the Greek axine for “axe,” alluding to the common wedge shape of its crystals. Ferroaxinite, magnesioaxinite, and manganaxinite refer to the chemical composition of these varieties. Tinzenite refers to the type locality of this variety, Tinzen, Switzerland.|
|Occurrence||Axinite is found in areas of contact metamorphism and metasomatism.|
Axinites form a mineral group, which includes iron (Fe) dominant ferroaxinite, magnesium (Mg) dominant magnesioaxinite, and manganese (Mn) dominant manganaxinite. Tinzenite is an intermediate member between ferroaxinite and manganaxinite.
Most gem-quality axinites are ferroaxinites, but you will likely encounter specimens called simply “axinites.” However, specific gems should ideally be referred to by their composition-specific names or with designations such as “axinite-(Fe).”
These strongly pleochroic gems can show three colors, depending on the viewing angle, and can have significant brilliance, too. (See the “Pleochroism” section in the Information Table above). 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. In addition, they have somewhat brittle tenacity.
Axinites are almost never completely free of clarity 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.
Most gem-quality specimens of the axinite group are iron-dominant ferroaxinites, like the rough and cut set shown here. 2.2 x 1.7 x 0.3 cm (crystal), 1.95-ct (gem), Puiva, Saranpaul, Tyumenskaya Oblast’, Prepolar Ural, Russia. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
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.
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.
No known synthetic axinites.
No known gemstone treatments.
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 5 carats are difficult to find and worthy of museum display. Faceted specimens of any type over 10 carats are rare. Material from Baja California will yield gems to about 25 carats. However, if clean, these stones will cut less than 5 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).
Although resistant to scratching due to their hardness, axinites have good cleavage and brittle tenacity. Avoid jewelry settings where these gems may receive blows.
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.