scapolite, shield cut with concave facets
scapolite, shield cut with concave facets

Scapolite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Although not well known, scapolite would make an attractive gem material for both jewelry enthusiasts and mineral collectors. It comes in a wide variety of colors and can show dramatic fluorescence and phenomenal effects.

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Although not well known, scapolite would make an attractive gem material for both jewelry enthusiasts and mineral collectors. It comes in a wide variety of colors and can show dramatic fluorescence. Rare specimens also display phenomenal effects, like chatoyancy.

scapolite, shield cut with concave facets
Dark yellow scapolite, shield cut with concave facets, 16.15 cts, 20.7 x 16 mm, Tanzania. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

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Scapolite Value

1 to 3 carats
Faceted
to /ct
3 carats plus
Faceted
to /ct

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Yellow scapolite’s value depends on size, clarity, and strength of color. Expect the usual premiums on price in terms of color saturation and custom versus native or commercial cutting. Values for natural purple or violet scapolites differ greatly from irradiated stones, since the untreated stones are rarer and have a delicate, but much purer, purple.

faceted scapolite - Brazil and Kenya
Scapolite: Brazil (24.0) and Kenya (2.30). © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Prices for untreated purple stones would exceed yellow, while prices for irradiated purple stones fall below yellow.

Rare cat’s eye scapolites are highly varied and quite beautiful.

cat-s eye scapolite - Myanmar
Cat’s eye scapolite: Myanmar (7.0). © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Cabochons cut from opaque Quebec and Ontario material are very lovely and often fluoresce brightly.

Tanzanian golden scapolite is much darker in tone than the Brazilian material, as well as much cleaner. Moreover, there is enough available to make jewelry promotion feasible.

Golden yellow scapolite, modified emerald brilliant cut, 49.2 cts, Tanzania. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.
scapolites - rough and cut
Scapolites: Tanzania (gem 73.31 cts, crystal ca 3 inches long). © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

What is Scapolite?

The scapolite mineral group contains a solid state series from marialite to meionite, with mizzonite as the intermediate member. Gemologically speaking, the term scapolite refers to the gems that form in this series. Older sources may refer to this series as "wernerite."

fluorescent wernerite
Fluorescent “wernerite,” Grenville, Quebec, Canada, from the collection of the Technische Universität Bergakademie, Freiberg, Germany. Photo by SpacePen. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Does Scapolite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

With a hardness of 5.5 to 6 and perfect cleavage, scapolites require care when setting and wearing as jewelry. Although daily wear as a ring stone may be inadvisable, protective settings and occasional use will let you show off these rarely seen gems.

scapolite and tanzanite gold ring
14k gold ring with an oval scapolite center stone with two tanzanite side stones. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Casco Bay Auctions.

Scapolites would also make excellent choices for pendants and earrings.

earrings with scapolites
“Primrose earrings,” golden citrine globes, pale yellow scapolite rondelles, and clear rock crystal rondelles. Photo and jewelry by Marianne Madden. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0.

What Causes Color in Scapolite?

The colors and properties of scapolites vary as the amount of sodium and calcium in their chemical composition changes. Colors range from near colorless through pinks and purples to yellow and orange. By far, yellows occur most commonly. Purples come a distant second.

scapolites in various colors
Scapolites in various colors. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Scapolites may show strong fluorescence and pleochroic colors.

    This 14.41-ct, oval Portuguese-cut scapolite from Sri Lanka appears brownish yellow under white light and orangish under longwave ultraviolet light. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

    Scapolite Varieties

    Some rare scapolites have displayed a variety of phenomenal effects. These include chatoyancy (in many colors and with unusually sharp “eyes”) and tenebrescence.

    • scapolate - tenebrescent 1
    • scapolite - tenebrescent 2

      Under shortwave ultraviolet light, this tenebrescent colorless scapolite changes to a light blue. Over time, the blue fades back to colorless. Cushion cut, 1.55 cts, 7.6 × 7.4 ×5.0, Pakistan. © ARK Rare Gems. Used with permission.

      In addition, so-called “rainbow" or "sunstone scapolites” display iridescence. Recently, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) found that brownish orange platelets, possibly hematite inclusions, caused aventurescence in a scapolite specimen.  Of course, true sunstones are feldspars, and scapolites don't belong to that mineral group. (Be aware that pink scapolite with sheen is sometimes erroneously called pink moonstone).

      triangle-cut scapolite - Tanzania
      Triangle-cut “sunstone scapolite,” 7.33 cts, 13.3 mm, Tanzania. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

      “Rosalinda,” an ornamental laidary rock from Peru, consists of calcite, scapolite, and red epidote-piedmontite.

      Identifying Scapolites

      Distinguishing citrines, a yellow variety of quartz, from yellow scapolites may sometimes prove challenging (without a destructive scratch test). Consult this article on difficult separations for advice.

      Table of Marialite-Meionite Series Properties

      Locality

      Color

      o

      e

      Birefringence

      Specific Gravity

      Marialite

      -

      1.546-1.550

      1.540-1.541

      0.004-0.008

      2.50-2.62

      Entire Rios, Mozambique

      yellow

      1.568

      1.548

      0.02

      2.70

      Umba River, Tanzania

      yellow-gold

      1.562-1.567

      1.543-1.548

      0.019

      2.66-2.67

      Umba River, Tanzania

      violet

      1.539-1.540

      1.531-1.534

      0.007

      2.59

      Umba River, Tanzania

      yellow

      1.553

      1.539

      0.014

      2.63

      Umba River, Tanzania

      very pale yellow

      1.579

      1.553

      0.026

      2.74

      Rio Pardo, Brazil

      golden yellow

      1.570-1.574

      1.549-1.552

      0.021

      2.68-2.70

      Myanmar

      colorless

      1.56

      1.544

      0.016

      -

      Myanmar

      pink

      1.558

      1.545

      0.013

      -

      Myanmar

      light yellow

      1.587

      1.554

      0.033

      -

      Myanmar

      pale pink

      1.549

      1.54

      0.009

      2.63

      Myanmar (cat's eye)

      violet

      1.560

      1.544

      0.016

      2.63

      Sri Lanka (cat's eye)

      gray

      1.583

      1.553

      0.030

      -

      Kenya (cat's eye)

      brown

      1.57

      -

      2.73

      Madagascar

      colorless

      1.568-1.571

      1.550-1.552

      0.018-0.020

      -

      Meionite

      -

      1.590-1.600

      1.556-1.562

      0.024-0.037

      2.78

      Graph of Scapolite Optical Properties Versus Chemical Composition

      scapolite group - RI vs chemical composition
      Refractive index (RI) and birefringence () as related to chemical composition in the scapolite series. Chemistry expressed as (molecular) percent meionite, which reflects the ratio Ca/(Ca + Na) in the formula. Refractive index plotted as a mean index = (o + e)/2. Adapted from W. A. Deer, R. A. Howie, and J. Zussman, 1962, The Rock Forming Minerals, vol. 4 (New York: Wiley), p. 329.

      Note: Dipyre is a Ca-rich marialite.

      Are There Any Synthetic Scapolites?

      Scientists have synthesized scapolites, from marialites to meionites, for research purposes. However, there are no known jewelry uses for these lab-made materials.

      Scapolite Gem Enhancements

      Heating can improve color in scapolites. This common enhancement is undetectable.

      Yellow and colorless scapolites may receive radiation treatments. This uncommon enhancement creates a brownish purple color, which fades rapidly.

      Where are Scapolites Found?

      Tanzania produces the finest golden yellow scapolite known in commercial quantities. Dodoma yields transparent, golden yellow to orangey yellow gem material. This source sometimes produces very pale to near colorless stones, as well as violetish and pink (rare) cuttable crystals.

      Espirito Santo, Brazil produces pale yellow crystals, sometimes large and facetable.

      Madagascar produces yellow, facetable crystals.

      scapolite - Madagascar
      Oval mixed-cut, greenish yellow scapolite with diopside inclusions, 1.91 cts, 8.8 x 7.3 mm, Amboasary, Madagascar. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

      Other notable gem-quality sources include the following:

      • Canada: Quebec (lemon yellow, opaque scapolite, some with silky luster); Ontario (light yellow, pink, and green material yielding tiny cut gems).
      • Kenya: brownish cat's eyes.
      • Myanmar: white, yellow, pink to violet (all cuttable); also bluish, pinkish, white cat's eyes.
      • Afghanistan; China; India; Pakistan; Peru; Sri Lanka; Tajikistan.
      scapolites - China
      Scapolites, four crystals from Daftar, Tashiku'ergan Co., Kashi Prefecture, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

      Stone Sizes

      The pink and purple Tanzanian material is extremely rare in sizes over 5 carats. You'll find most gems of this color in the 1-2 carat range.

      Brazilian yellow scapolite is cuttable up to about 30 carats. However, at that size, it's usually flawed (long thin tubes).

      Faceted Myanmar scapolites are rarely encountered on the market. However, white and yellow specimens from Myanmar have been found in large sizes. Pink Myanmar step-cut gems to 70 carats have been reported. Cat's eyes usually run under 10 carats. However, larger ones are known.

      • Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Ontario, Canada): 28.4, 57.6 (yellow, Brazil); 7.91 (pink, Myanmar); 65.63 (colorless, Myanmar); 18.8 (gray, cat's eye); and 18.3 (pink cat's eye).
      • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 288 (colorless, Myanmar); 29.9, 19.7 (cat's eye, pink, Sri Lanka); 12.3 (pink, Myanmar); 103.4, 52.2 (yellow-orange, Tanzania).
      • Devonian Group (Calgary, Alberta, Canada): 3.34 (blue cat's eye, Myanmar); 21.25 (white cat's eye, India).
      • Private Collection: 14.83 (violet, Tanzania, largest known of this color); 52.92 (green-brown cat's eye).
      faceted scapolites - various sources
      Scapolite: Myanmar (6.65), Brazil (5.77), Kenya (1.93), Myanmar (9.0). © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

      How to Care for Scapolites

      Avoid cleaning scapolites with mechanical systems. Instead, use only a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

      faceted scapolites - Tanzania
      Scapolites: Tanzania (32.44, 32.00). © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

      Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA

      Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.

      Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com


      Donald Clark, CSM IMG

      The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”


      Barbara Smigel, PhD. GG

      Barbara Smigel is a GIA certified gemologist, facetor, jewelry designer, gem dealer, gemology instructor and creator of the well-regarded educational websites acstones.com and bwsmigel.info.


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