Axinite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

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Oval-cut, 3.60-ct axinite, 10.6 x 8.4 x 5.8 mm, purple brown, Pakistan. © ARK Rare Gems. Used with permission.

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.

Axinite Value

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Axinite Information

Data Value
Name Axinite
Varieties Ferro-axinite, Magnesio-axinite, Manganaxinite
Crystallography Triclinic. Distinctive wedge-shaped crystals; also tabular.
Crystallographic Forms
Refractive Index 1.656-1.704
Colors Violet-brown, colorless, reddish purple, pink, orange, yellowish (Mn), greenish, pale violet to reddish (Mn), violetish blue, blue (Mg).
Luster Vitreous
Hardness 6.5-7, variable with direction.
Wearability Very Good
Fracture Uneven to conchoidal
Specific Gravity 3.26-3.36; magnesioaxinite = 3.18.
Birefringence 0.010-0.012
Cleavage Good 1 direction
Dispersion 0.018-0.020 (Large)
Heat Sensitivity Slight
Luminescence Red in SW (Franklin, New Jersey). Dull red in SW, orange-red in LW (Tanzania: magnesioaxinite).
Luminescence Present Yes
Luminescence Type Fluorescent, UV-Long, UV-Short
Enhancements None
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).
  • +Mg = magnesioaxinite
  • If Fe > Mn = ferroaxinite
  • If Mn > Fe = manganaxinite
  • If Mn > Fe and Ca <1.5 = tinzenite
Pleochroism Intense in all colored varieties: cinnamon brown/violet-blue/olive green, yellow, or colorless.
  • Luning, Nevada material: pale brown to colorless/deep brown/ brownish red.
  • Magnesioaxinite: pale blue/pale violet/pale gray.
  • Manganaxinite: blue/brown/purple.
  • Tinzenite: pale brown/violet/colorless to yellowish.
  • Sri Lanka material: reddish brown/dark violet/ colorless to yellowish.
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.  
Optic Sign Biaxial +, Biaxial -
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.
Inclusions Usually included.
axinites - Baja California

Axinites: Baja California, Mexico (~ 2.0 cut, rough 1½ inches long). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

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.

Ferroaxinite rough and cut set. 2.2 x 1.7 x 0.3 cm (crystal), 1.95-ct (gem), Puiva, Saranpaul, Tyumenskaya Oblast’, Prepolar Ural, Russia. © Rob Lavinsky, Used with permission.

These strongly pleochroic gems can show three colors, depending on the viewing angle.

pear-cut axinite - Pakistan

This pear-cut axinite from Pakistan shows this gem’s strong pleochroism. When you view the gem through the crown, you’ll see a honey brown color. When you view the gem through the pavilion, however, you’ll see a lilac hue. 3.27 cts, 12.5 x 8.5 mm. © Rob Lavinsky, Used with permission.

Does Axinite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

faceted axinite gemstone

Faceted axinite. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

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.

axinite - Baja California

Axinite: Baja California, Mexico (1.45). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Identifying Characteristics

Axinites are both piezoelectric and pyroelectric. They generate an electrical charge under physical pressure and when heated, respectively.

Although typically biaxial negative, an axinite’s optic character may become biaxial positive as its Mg content increases.

Unusual violetish blue and reddish purple color zoning has been documented in ferroaxinites from Pakistan.

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?

There are no known synthetic axinites or gemstone treatments.

tinzenite crystals - Italy

Bright orange tinzenites on clear quartz crystals, 3.2 x 2.2 x 1.5 cm, Molinello Mine, Graveglia Valley, Ne, Genova Province, Liguria, Italy. © Rob Lavinsky, Used with permission.

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.
manganaxinite crystals

Greenish manganaxinite crystals on acicular johannsenite crystals. Field of view 7 mm. Iron Cap Mine, Landsman Camp (Landsman group), Aravaipa, Santa Teresa Mts, Aravaipa District, Graham County, Arizona. Photo and specimen Leon Hupperichs. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

  • 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 - Japan

Clove-brown axinites, 2.5 x 2.0 x 1.6 cm. Obira mine, Ono-gun, Oita prefecture, Kyushu Region, Japan. © Rob Lavinsky, Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

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.

faceted axinite - Brazil

Faceted axinite, 1.02 cts, Brazil. Photo by DonGuennie. Licensed under CC By-SA 4.0.

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