Chabazite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Chabazite: Nova Scotia (specimen ~ 3 inches across). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Chabazite

Although faceting chabazite isn’t too difficult, it’s too soft for jewelry. However, only a handful of cut chabazites may exist because facetable material is extremely scarce.

Chabazite Information

Data Value
Name Chabazite
Colors Colorless, white, yellowish, pinkish, reddish white, salmon color, greenish.
Crystallography Hexagonal. Crystals rhomb-shaped, tabular; frequently twinned.
Refractive Index 1.470-1.494
Luster Vitreous.
Hardness 4 - 5
Fracture Uneven
Specific Gravity 2.05-2.16
Cleavage Distinct 1 direction
Luminescence None
Luminescence Present No
Transparency Transparent to translucent.
Absorption Spectrum Not diagnostic.
Formula

CaAl2Si4O12 · 6H2O

Optics

Variable; RI = 1.470 – 1.494. Uniaxial (+) or (-). See “Identifying Characteristics” below.

Optic Sign Uniaxial +, Uniaxial -
Etymology

Originally named chabasie by Bosc d’Antic in 1780, later changed to chabazite. See “Comments” below.

Occurrence

Cavities in basalt and other basic igneous rocks; also hot spring deposits.

chabazite - salmon pink

Salmon-pink “Chabazite on Heulandite,” Upper Quarry, New St., Paterson, New Jersey, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Comments

Chabazite refers to a series of related minerals. This series include calcium (Ca), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), and strontium (Sr) dominant members. The sodium-dominant member is also known as herschelite.

This stone can show pale but attractive colors. Unfortunately, it’s too soft to wear (hardness 4 – 5) and rarely found in clean condition. Usually, faceters can cut only one corner of pinkish or colorless crystals, since they’re never entirely transparent. Even museum collections seldom possess cut material.

This rare, relatively little-known gem has a poetic but mangled etymology. The name “chabazite” comes from a poem attributed to the poet Orpheus from Greek mythology. However, the actual source, the 4th century CE Orphic Lithica of Pseudo-Orpheus, refers to chalazias, a stone said to be like hail. According to this mystical work, the stone purportedly cooled passions and cured fevers and snakebites. Evidently, its magical purview doesn’t include typos. The “b” in the modern name came from a misspelling in a text of the poem used in the 18th century.

What was chalazias? Possible identities for this gem range from quartz to diamond. Chabazites have been found in Greece, Cyprus, and the Aegean region, too.

Identifying Characteristics

Chabazite’s optic sign may vary. It may be uniaxial positive or negative.

chabazite - phacolite

Phacolite is a lens-shaped variety of chabazite. These form due to twinning/multiple twinning of rhombohedrons, shapes hexagonal or trigonal crystal structures may take. “Chabazite (Var. Phacolite),” Gads Hill, Upper Mersey Valley, Tasmania, Australia. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Synthetics

Labs have created synthetic minerals, like SSZ-13, isostructural with chabazite. (They share the same crystal structure but not the same chemical composition). These materials only have industrial uses.

Sources

  • United States: California; Colorado; Hawaii; Nevada; New Jersey; Oregon.
  • Canada: Bay of Fundy district, Nova Scotia.
  • Australia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Germany; Greece; Greenland; Hungary; India; Ireland; Italy; Russia; Scotland; Slovakia.

Stone Sizes

Cut chabazites are always very small, usually less than 1-2 carats.

Care

You’re more likely to find chabazites in mineral collections, if at all, than in jewelry collections. These gems have significantly lower hardness than common jewelry stones, such as quartz and topaz, not to mention diamond. Therefore, store them separately from other gems to avoid contact scratches. For cleaning, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

chabazite - Tasmania

“Chabazite,” Wadamana, Central Tasmania. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.