Pollucite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


pollucite - rough and faceted, Maine
Pollucite: Maine (gem ~ 2 cts). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Colorless pollucites lack fire when cut and are usually small. However, this very rare cesium mineral is a coveted collector's gem.

Pollucite Value

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

Pollucite Information

DataValue
NamePollucite
Crystallography Isometric. Crystals cubic, very rare; massive, fine-grained.
Colors Colorless, white, gray; tinted pale pink, blue, violet.
Luster Vitreous, slightly greasy.
Fracture Conchoidal. Brittle.
Hardness 6.5-7.
Specific Gravity 2.85-2.94.
Cleavage None.
Dispersion 0.012.
Luminescence Orange to pink fluorescence in UV and X-rays. Rarely pale yellow in SW UV.
Transparency Opaque to transparent.
FormulaCs1-xNa,AlSi2O6· xh2O; x ~ 0.3. Also written: (Cs,Na)2(Al2Si4)O12 · H2O.
Optics Isotropic; N: 1.518-1.525.
EtymologyNamed after Pollux, the twin brother of Castor in Classical mythology.
OccurrenceIn granite pegmatites.
Inclusions Usually whitish, resembling spikes or balls, very small; also very tiny snowflakes, bulging at the centers.
pollucite crystal - Afghanistan
“Pollucite, Albite, Kunzite,” Mawi, Laghman Province, Afghanistan. A crystal “brain” rests on an albite matrix, with a thin pinkish kunzite crystal at one end. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Comments

Not only is gem-quality pollucite very rare, it’s also the only mineral which has cesium (Cs) as an essential constituent. This mineral serves as the principal ore for cesium.

Pollucite belongs to the zeolite mineral group. It forms a solid solution series, as the cesium analogue, with analcime, the sodium analogue.

Discovered in 1846 in Elba, Italy, this mineral was named after Pollux, the twin brother of Castor in Classical mythology. (Helen of Troy and the ill-starred Clytemnestra were his sisters). The discoverers associated it with castorite, named after Castor, since both occurred in lithium-rich granite pegmatites at this source. Although castorite was later renamed petalite, the name pollucite remained.

Oddly enough, according to myth, Pollux was immortal while Castor was mortal. So, too, did the name “castorite” pass away. Furthermore, some myths claim the twins had different fathers, immortal Zeus and the mortal Tyndareus. So, though originally paired, these minerals proved to be distinct, too.

Synthetics

Scientists have synthesized this mineral hydrothermally for use in the storage of radioactive waste. However, no commercial jewelry use for these synthetics is known.

Treatments

No known gem treatments.

Sources

Notable gem-quality sources include:

  • United States: Gem material from various localities in Maine, including Newry and Mt. Mica, and Massachusetts; San Diego County, California; Middletown, Connecticut; Custer County, South Dakota: massive material in thick seams.
  • Afghanistan; Bernie Lake, Manitoba, Canada; Finland; Elba, Italy; Kazakhstan; Pakistan; Karibib, Namibia; Varutrask, Sweden: massive lilac to white material (N = 1.518, SG 2.90).
pollucite - Sweden
“Pollucite,” Varutrask, Skelleftea, Vasterbotten, Sweden. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Stone Sizes

Despite the existence of large beds at some localities, gems sizes are always very small, under 10 carats.

Opaque, whitish masses in South Dakota reach 3-4 feet in thickness but usually yield colorless, very small gems.

Maine material cuts stones from masses that reach up to 10 inches in size.

  • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C): 8.5 (colorless, Maine); 7.0 (colorless, Connecticut).
  • Private Collection: 3.85 (pinkish, Maine).

Care

Pollucites can reach the hardness of quartz (7) and require no special care or settings. You’re more likely to find this gem in mineral collections than in jewelry collections. However, recent gem-quality finds in Afghanistan could change that. See the faceted gem below. Consult our Gemstone Jewelry Cleaning Guide for general care recommendations.

Note: In metal form, cesium is toxic, and the isotopes produced as nuclear waste or for medical purposes are radioactive. However, naturally occurring cesium, such as that found in pollucite gems, should pose no risks.

pollucite - trillion cut, Afghanistan
“Pollucite,” Afghanistan, elongated trillion cut. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.