Covellite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


covellite - Sardinia
“Covellite,” Calabona Mine, Alghero, Sassari Province, Sardinia, Italy. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. 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 Value

The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.

Covellite Information

DataValue
NameCovellite
Crystallography Hexagonal. Crystals are tabular; also massive and cleavages.
Colors Light to dark indigo blue; purplish; commonly iridescent, yellow and red.
Luster Submetallic to resinous; opaque, except in thin slivers.
Fracture Uneven. Brittle. Flexible in thin sheets.
Hardness 1.5-2
Specific Gravity 4.68
Birefringence 1.17
Cleavage Perfect and easy 1 direction.
Luminescence None
Transparency Opaque
FormulaCuS
Pleochroism Strong, but visible only in very thin sheets.
Optics o = 1.45, e = 2.629. Uniaxial (+).
EtymologyAfter Niccolo Covelli, the Italian chemist who discovered the mineral.
OccurrenceSecondary enrichment zones of copper mines.
Inclusions Pyrite and chalcopyrite veins.
covellite - Butte, Montana
“Covellite (latest Cretaceous to earliest Tertiary, 62-66 Ma; Leonard Mine, Butte, Montana, USA) 1” by James St. John. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Comments

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 be appreciated in its natural crystal form, too.

Identifying Characteristics

Covellite’s iridescence, color, and brassy inclusions of pyrite and chalcopyrite also 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.

covellite and chalcopyrite
Iridescent violet and magenta covellite blades dusted with bright, brass-yellow chalcopyrite microcrystals. “Covellite, Chalcopyrite,” Butte, Butte District, Silver Bow Co., Montana, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Synthetics

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. Use of this synthetic material for jewelry or other adornment is unknown (and unlikely, given its softness).

Sources

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:

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

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.

Care

You’re more likely to find covellites, if at all, in mineral collections than in jewelry collections. Jewelry use isn’t recommended.

If you insist, consult our Gemstone Jewelry Cleaning Guide for care recommendations.

covellite - Colorado
“Covellite,” Reynolds Mine, Summitville Mine (Reynolds Tunnel; Golconda Tunnel), Summitville District (Summit District), Rio Grande Co., Colorado, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.