Covellite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

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Midnight blue covellite cabochon, 249 cts, 73.7 mm length, Leonard Mine, Butte, Montana. © 49erMinerals. Used with permission.

Although covellite has attractive blue colors and shows iridescence, this rare mineral is difficult to cut. You can scratch it with a fingernail! As cut gems, they’re strictly curiosities for collectors.

Covellite Information

Data Value
Name Covellite
Colors Light to dark indigo blue; purplish; commonly iridescent, yellow and red.
Hardness 1.5-2
Wearability Display Only
Fracture Uneven
Cleavage Perfect and easy 1 direction
Formula CuS
Etymology After Niccolo Covelli, the Italian chemist who discovered the mineral.
Occurrence Secondary enrichment zones of copper mines
Inclusions Pyrite and chalcopyrite veins
Crystallography Hexagonal. Crystals are tabular; also massive and cleavages.
Crystallographic Forms
Refractive Index 1.45-2.629
Birefringence 1.179
Dispersion Strong
Luminescence None
Luminescence Present No
Pleochroism Strong, but visible only in very thin sheets. Deep blue to pale blue.
Optics o = 1.45, e = 2.629. Uniaxial (+).
Optic Sign Uniaxial +
Luster Submetallic to resinous
Specific Gravity 4.68
Transparency Opaque, except in thin slivers
Phenomena Iridescence
covellite - Butte, Montana

Covellite, Butte, Montana. Photo by James St. John. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Does Covellite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

Cut covellites (or covellines) have no great value. With hardness ranging from 1.5 to 2, coins and fingernails could scratch these gems. Although gem cutters have cut cabochons from this material, covellite would make a challenging jewelry stone.

Of course, just because a mineral doesn’t make good rough doesn’t mean it lacks beauty. Covellite’s colors and iridescence can also be appreciated in its natural crystal form, too.

What is “Pink Fire” Quartz?

In 2005, quartz stones with covellite inclusions appeared on the market. This so-called “Pink Fire” quartz can show a pink flash when viewed from different angles due to these inclusions.

“Pink Fire” quartz, very light brown with pink flash, 32.77 cts, oval buff cushion, Brazil. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Identifying Covellite Gems

Covellite’s iridescence, color, and brassy inclusions of pyrite and chalcopyrite can help distinguish it visually from gems within its hardness range.

Covellite leaves a shining, gray-black streak. (Usually, metallic gems, like this copper sulfide, have a colored streak). You’ll likely have no occasion to conduct a destructive streak test for identification purposes. However, if you want to see firsthand one of the few gems to leave a non-white, non-colorless streak, use a small spare piece or test a piece on an inconspicuous spot.

Crystal specimen with vugs lined with iridescent violet and magenta covellite blades dusted with bright, brass-yellow chalcopyrite microcrystals. Butte, Montana, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Are There Synthetic Covellites?

Covellites have some unusual structural and electrical properties of interest to science and industry. This mineral is a naturally occurring superconductive material. Not surprisingly, researchers have synthesized it, but use of this synthetic material for jewelry or other adornment is unknown (and unlikely, given its softness).

Where is Covellte Found?

The type locality for this gem is the infamous Mount Vesuvius. Italy, principally Sardinia, remains an important source of gem-quality material.

Other notable sources include the following:

  • United States: Alaska; California; Colorado; Butte, Montana; South Dakota; Utah; Wyoming.
  • Argentina; Australia; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Germany; New Zealand; Philippines; Serbia.

Crystal specimen with covellite and pyrite accents, Calabona Mine, Alghero, Sassari Province, Sardinia, Italy. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

Gem cutters generally cut cabochons from massive or foliated material. As a result, the cabs can be very large, up to several inches long.

Caring for Covellite Gems

You’re more likely to find covellites, if at all, in mineral collections than in jewelry collections. Jewelry use isn’t recommended. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for care recommendations.

covellite - Colorado

Crystal specimen of solid covellite, Reynolds Mine, Summitville Mine, Summitville District, Rio Grande Co., Colorado, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

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