Dolomite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
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.
The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.
|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.|
|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.|
|Transparency||Transparent to opaque.|
|Absorption Spectrum||Not diagnostic.|
|Formula||CaMg(CO3)2 + Fe, Mn, Zu, Pb, Co.Ankerite: CaFe(CO3)2 .Kutnohorite: CaMn(CO3)2.|
|Optics||Dolomite: o = 1.679-1.703; e = 1.500-1.520. Uniaxial (-).Ankerite: o = 1.690-1.750; e = 1.510-1.548. Uniaxial (-).See "Identifying Characteristics" below.|
|Etymology||Dolomite 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.|
|Occurrence||Dolomite: 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.|
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.
The dolomite crystals and rare faceted gems of interest to most collectors belong to the mineral series discussed above. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Dolomites may display triboluminescence, which means it luminesces when held or rubbed.
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).
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.
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.
Dyed dolomites have surfaced as imitations of more well-known and expensive gem materials such as lapis lazuli and turquoise.
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.
Sources of pink cobaltoan dolomites include the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Czech Republic, and Morocco.
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).
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.
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).
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.