Chiolite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Rectangular step-cut chiolite, 1.04 cts, 6.9 x 5.6 mm, Ivigtut, Greenland. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Chiolite

Chiolite makes a challenging gem. It’s difficult to cut, extremely rare, and has little appeal. It’s solely a curiosity in the gem world.

Chiolite Information

Data Value
Name Chiolite
Formula Na5Al314
Etymology From the Ancient Greek words khion for “snow” and lithos for “stone,” due to its white appearance.
Occurrence In cryolite pegmatite.
Colors Colorless, white.
Hardness 3.5-4
Cleavage Perfect 1 direction
Crystallography Tetragonal; minute dipyramidal crystals, commonly in masses.
Refractive Index 1.342-1.349
Birefringence 0.007
Luminescence None
Luminescence Present No
Absorption Spectrum Not diagnostic
Pleochroism None
Optics o = 1.349; e = 1.342. Uniaxial ( - ).
Optic Sign Uniaxial -
Luster Vitreous
Specific Gravity 2.998
Transparency Transparent to translucent
chiolite

Chiolite: Greenland (1.1). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Comments

Less than two dozen or so cut chiolites may exist. This gem combines a very low hardness (3.5-4) and perfect cleavage with a lack of appealing colors. The stones are usually small and nondescript. However, chiolite has joined the ranks of minerals cut by faceters who must try their hand at everything clean enough to cut. Thus, a cut stone would make quite a specimen for a gem collection.

This nondescript gem also has a very similar name to cryolite, a similar, related mineral. Cryolite means “ice stone,” while chiolite means “snow stone.” Like their namesakes, they’re sometimes found together. However, chiolites are rarer.

Synthetics

No known synthetics or treatments.

Sources

The mineral itself is quite rare. Ivigtut, Greenland, is the principal source of gem-quality material, where it occurs in association with cryolite. Other gem-quality sources include Miask, in the Urals region of Russia, where it’s found in a cryolite pegmatite.

chiolite - Urals

Chiolite specimen from Miask, Ural, Russia, on display at the Mineralogical Museum, Bonn, Germany. Photo by Ra’ike. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Stone Sizes

Always tiny, 1-2 carat range, if clean. Large, clean fragments for cutting do not exist.

Care

A knife could scratch this stone. Store any chiolites separately from other more common, harder jewelry stones, such as quartz or topaz. See our Gemstone Jewelry Cleaning Guide for care recommendations.

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