Dolomite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


dolomite - trillion cut
“Dolomite,” 16.94 cts, “Trillion Brilliant” cut, Eugui, Esteribar, Navarre, Spain. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Although transparent dolomite crystals are fairly abundant and popular collector’s items, faceted gems are soft, fragile, and rarely seen in jewelry. However, massive material can be carved into decorative pieces.

Dolomite Value

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

Dolomite Information

DataValue
NameDolomite
Crystallography Hexagonal (R). Crystals rhomb shaped, sometimes with curved faces; saddle-shaped; massive or granular; twinning common.
Colors Colorless, white, gray, black, blue, green, pale brown, pink (Mn present). Ankerite is tan to brown, and kutnohorite is pink. Dolomite may also be pink due to Co.
Luster Vitreous to pearly.
Fracture Subconchoidal. Brittle.
Hardness 3.5-4, varies with direction in crystal.
Specific Gravity 2.85, as high as 2.93; ankerite, 2.93-3.10.
Birefringence 0.179-0.185. (Ankerite, 0.182-0.202).
Cleavage Perfect 1 direction.
Luminescence Orange, blue, pale green, creamy white, weak brown in SW. Orange, blue, pale green, creamy white in LW. See "Identifying Characteristics" below.
Enhancements Dyeing.
Transparency Transparent to opaque.
Absorption Spectrum Not diagnostic.
FormulaCaMg(CO3)2 + Fe, Mn, Zu, Pb, Co. Ankerite: CaFe(CO3)2 . Kutnohorite: CaMn(CO3)2.
Optics Dolomite: o = 1.679-1.703; = 1.500-1.520. Uniaxial (-). Ankerite: o = 1.690-1.750; e = 1.510-1.548. Uniaxial (-). See "Identifying Characteristics" below.
EtymologyDolomite is named after Deodat Dolomieu, French engineer and mineralogist. Ankerite is named after Mathias Anker, Austrian mineralogist. Kutnohorite (also known as kutnahorite) is named after the type locality, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic.
OccurrenceDolomite: in sedimentary rocks; in Mg-rich igneous rocks that have been altered; geodes. Ankerite is a mineral of veins and hydrothermal or low-temperature deposits.
dolomite crystal - Brazil
“Dolomite,” 6.2 x 5.2 x 3.1 cm, Serra das Eguas, Brumado (Bom Jesus dos Meiras), Bahia, Brazil. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Comments

A carbonate mineral, dolomite forms a series with both the very rare ankerite, in which iron (Fe) exceeds magnesium (Mg), and the manganese (Mn)-dominant kutnohorite. Dolomites that contain Fe (but not in excess of Mg) are known as ferroan dolomites. Manganoan dolomites contain Mn, of course, which gives these stones a pink color.

Dolostone

The dolomite crystals and rare faceted gems of interest to most collectors belong to these mineral series. However, the name is also applied to rocks that consist mostly of dolomite. Artists have carved large sculptures as well as small decorative objects from such material, also known as dolostone.

dolomite rock sculpture - Estonia
Sculpted Man’s Head, (dolomite) from the Monument to the War of Independence by Jaan Koort, 1924. Rapla, Estonia. Photo by Stemugram. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0 EE.

Caymanite

A variety of dolostone, caymanite was first discovered in the Cayman Islands. This material can feature color bands of red, orange, white, black, and brown. With a hardness of 6 to 7 on the Mohs scale, this polycrystalline dolostone is much tougher than crystalline dolomite (3.5 to 4). Caymanite has become a popular lapidary stone.

dolomite rock - caymanite
“Caymanite 2,” caymanite necklaces on display on top of raw caymanite stone, by S.S. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Kona Dolomite

This dolostone from the Kona Hills in Michigan contains stromatolites, fossilized algae. This lapidary material can show mottling, markings, or bands of multiple colors, such as black, brown, cream, grey, orange, pink, red, or yellow.

kona dolomite - ball
“Kona Dolomite 1,” a fist size ball, by Jarek Tuszynski. Licensed under CC By 4.0.

Identifying Characteristics

Optics

As carbonates, dolomites have distinctive birefringence. Faceted pieces may show doubling of facet images.

As Fe substitution increases, the refractive indices of series minerals also increase from the dolomite values.

Although dolomites have a uniaxial optic character, anomalously biaxial specimens may occur.

Luminescence

Manganoan varieties may fluoresce pale pink through intense red, but weaker in longwave ultraviolet light.

Dolomites may display triboluminescence, which means it luminesces when held or rubbed.

fluorescent dolomite
“Fluorescent Dolomite,” on display at the Mineralogical Museum, Bonn, Germany, by Ra’ike. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Physical Properties

Unlike other carbonates, like calcites, dolomites may not effervesce when exposed to weak, room temperature hydrochloric acid, for example, during acid testing. However, the mineral may effervesce if powdered or composed of fine-grained crystals. (Please note, acid testing is a destructive test. Conduct this test only as a last resort on an inconspicuous spot and never on a finished gem).

Misidentifications

Calcite and magnesite gems may resemble dolomites. They may show similar colors, transparency, and birefringent doubling effects. Calcites have a lower hardness, but dolomites and magnesites fall within the same hardness range. (Scratch testing is another destructive test of last resort). Magnesite has a higher specific gravity (SG) than dolomite.

Dyed dolomites may also resemble howlites. In one unusual case, SG and optical tests exposed beads sold as dyed howlite lapis lazuli simulants as, in fact, dyed dolomites.

teruelite - black dolomite
Teruelite is a black variety of dolomite. “Teruelite,” about 1.1 x 1.0 x 0.8 cm each, Salobral ravine, Teruel, Teruel Province, Aragon, Spain. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Synthetics

Dolomite has many industrial applications, including agricultural, manufacturing, medical, and petrological. This mineral even has properties useful for studying particle physics. Not surprisingly, scientists have synthesized dolomites, including crystals, for many research projects. However, there is no known use of this material for jewelry purposes. With the natural material so abundant, this would be most unlikely.

Sintered dolomite (powdered, then heated and compressed to a solid) has been used as bead material for South Sea pearl cultivation.

Enhancements

Dyed dolomites have surfaced as imitations of more well-known and expensive gem materials such as lapis lazuli and turquoise.

Sources

Dolomites occur in abundance in many locales across the globe. However, the most well-known source of gem-quality material, Eugua, Navarra, Spain produces magnificent, often large, perfectly formed and transparent crystals and clusters.

The famous Muzo emerald mine in Colombia has yielded very rare light blue dolomites. Most likely, natural radiation caused this unusual coloration.

Sources of pink cobaltoan dolomites include the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Czech Republic, and Morocco.

cobaltoan dolomite - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Cobaltoan Dolomite on Calcite,” 4.3 x 3.3 x 3.0 cm, Kakanda deposit, Katanga Copper Crescent, Katanga (Shaba), Democratic Republic of Congo. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Notable gem-quality sources in the United States include:

  • Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas (the so-called Tri-State Mineral Region).
  • Keokuk, Iowa (in geodes).
  • New Mexico (transparent material, cuttable).
Dolomite, Rough and Cut - New Mexico
Dolomite: New Mexico (gem about 2 cts, rough 2 inches across). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Other notable gem-quality dolomite sources include:

  • Austria; Brazil; Quebec, Canada; China; Germany; Mexico; Namibia (cobaltoan and cuprian dolomites); Switzerland.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and South Africa produce kutnohorite.

The Cayman Islands and Hungary produce caymanite.

dolomite - kutnohorite
“Kutnahorite” (kutnohorite), 6.2 x 6.1 x 3.8 cm, Wessels Mine, Kalahari Manganese Fields, South Africa. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

Gem cutters often carve and stain massive material. Sometimes, natural color banding occurs.

Faceted dolomites from New Mexico can reach about 5 carats in size. The Spanish material can provide stones over 100 carats.

  • Private Collection: 18.38 (Spain).

Care

You’re more likely to find these fragile gems in mineral collections than jewelry collections. Store dolomites and any jewelry made with them in a cloth bag or box, away from other harder gems. This will prevent contact scratches. Clean dolomites only with a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water.

Objects made from dolostone lapidary material has greater wearability.

See our Gemstone Jewelry Cleaning Guide for more recommendations.

Faceted Dolomite - Spain
Dolomite: Spain (4.5). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.