Kunzite Buying Guide


kunzite buying - bangle
Bangle featuring a stunning 32-ct kunzite with ebony wood and diamonds for contrast and sparkle. Designed and crafted by Eddie Sakamoto. Photo by Josh Lynch. Photo courtesy of Shelly Sergent, Somewhere in the Rainbow Collection.

A challenge for lapidaries and a delight for collectors, kunzite jewelry is rare and delicate. As the pink to purple variety of spodumene, this gem can display soft or intense hues that buyers covet. However, kunzite will fracture with small impacts and is sensitive to heat, making this gem largely a collector’s stone. In addition, its color fades in sunlight. Still, with proper precautions kunzite makes a wonderful jewelry stone. Although somewhat rare, kunzite is available in large sizes at relatively low prices. Nevertheless, understanding this gem’s quality factors will benefit you on your next kunzite buying trip.

Kunzite Buying and the Four Cs

The IGS kunzite value listing has price guidelines for faceted kunzite.

Color

Kunzite’s pink to purple color arises from trace amounts of manganese in the crystal structure and is often light in tone.

kunzite buying - pale emerald cut
This 17.44-ct untreated California kunzite has a lovely pale lilac color. Cut along the B axis, this gem shows stronger color at its ends. © Earth’s Treasury. Used with permission.

Darker tones of kunzite fetch a better price, with deep magenta colors holding the highest values. Furthermore, intense violet colors are rare and will sell for a good price.

kunzite buying - purple kunzite
Untreated kunzite gems with natural, bright violet color, like this 43.70-ct specimen from Oceanview Mine, California, are rare and valuable. Part of Somewhere in the Rainbow Collection. © Earth’s Treasury. Used with permission.

This gem is pleochroic, exhibiting different hues along each of its crystal axes. (The most intense color is visible along the C axis).

Clarity

Specimens are often free of inclusions, and faceted gems should be eye clean. However, some lapidaries choose to feature interesting inclusions in a stone.

Cut

Because of its perfect cleavage in two directions, kunzite is a challenge to cut and polish. Gems are usually cut to feature color along the C axis, often with deep cuts to improve color.

Kunzite commonly receives step cuts, but some ambitious lapidaries cut these gems into intricate designs.

kunzite buying - metatron cut
This 32.98-ct natural color California kunzite received an Honorable Mention at the 2017 AGTA Spectrum Awards for innovative faceting. Metatron Cut by Dalan Hargrave. © Jewels from the Woods. Used with permission.

Carat

Because of the difficulties faced when cutting kunzite, small gems are rare. Kunzite can be found more readily in larger sizes.

Jewelry Considerations

When setting kunzite in jewelry, keep the stone’s fragility in mind. Although it has a relatively high hardness, at 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale depending on the crystal axis, this gem can easily fracture on impact and is sensitive to heat. Thus, kunzite is most suitable for earrings, pendants, and brooches.

kunzite buying - pendant
As a pendant, this kunzite is less likely to cleave than as a gem set in a ring. “New pendant kunzite” by topzhang. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Kunzite’s color fades in sunlight, and prolonged exposure will alter its appearance. Remember, wear kunzite jewelry only at night and store it in darkness.

Treatment

Some gems receive radiation and heat treatments to deepen their color.  After irradiation with cobalt-60, the spodumene crystal exhibits a deep green hue. Subsequent heat treatment then creates lovely pink and purple colors. However, treated gems usually receive heavy discounts.

Irradiation and heat treatments can also restore or deepen the color of a kunzite faded by exposure to sunlight.

kunzite buying - afghan treated kunzite
With irradiation and heat treatment, this 17.19-ct Afghan kunzite’s color deepened. © Earth’s Treasury. Used with permission.

About the author
Addison Rice
A geologist, environmental engineer and Caltech graduate, Addison's interest in the mesmerizing and beautiful results of earth's geological processes began in her elementary school's environmental club. When she isn't writing about gems and minerals, Addison spends winters studying ancient climates in Iceland and summers hiking the Colorado Rockies.
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