Sodalite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


sodalite carving
“Sodalite Hippo” by Adrian Pingstone. Public Domain.

Tough, easy to cut or carve, and rich in color, typically blue, sodalite is highly desired by hobbyists. Even stones that lack transparency make lovely faceted gems.

Sodalite Value

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

Sodalite Information

DataValue
NameSodalite
VarietiesHackmanite
Crystallography Isometric. Crystals rare (dodecahedral); massive. granular.
Colors Colorless; white, yellowish, greenish, reddish; usually light to dark blue.
Luster Vitreous; greasy.
Fracture Uneven to conchoidal. Brittle.
Hardness 5.5 - 6
Specific Gravity 2.14-2.4; massive blue ~ 2.28.
Cleavage Poor.
Dispersion 0.018.
Luminescence In LW, usually orangy red to violet; also dull pink in SW (Guinea). See "Identifying Characteristics" below.
Spectral Not diagnostic.
Transparency Transparent (colorless specimens) to opaque.
FormulaNa4Al3(SiO4)3Cl.
Optics Isotropic; N= 1.483-1.487.
EtymologyNamed in allusion to the sodium content.
OccurrenceIn nepheline syenites and related rock types.
Inclusions White calcite in veins and patches.
sodalite - Brazil
“1Sodalite,” polished sodalites from Brazil, by Adam Ognisty. Licensed under CC By 3.0.

Comments

The sodalite mineral group includes haüyne, lazurite, and nosean, all typically blue. These minerals actually compose, in large part, lapis lazuli.

Hackmanite, a sulfur-rich variety of sodalite, shows tenebrescence. When first mined, stones from Canada and Greenland can range from pink to violet. In sunlight, however, they fade to grayish white or white. On the other hand, hackmanites from Afghanistan and Myanmar start white but turn pink or violet in sunlight. Darkness will reverse these effects.

Identifying Characteristics

Hackmanite from Dungannon Township, Ontario, Canada will luminesce bright pale pink in shortwave (SW) ultraviolet light. In longwave, it luminesces bright yellow-orange. Stones may turn raspberry red after exposure to SW.

When cut, sodalite may release a hydrogen sulfide (H2S), “rotten egg,” smell due to traces of water and sulfur.

sodalite hackmanite - Afghanistan
“Sodalite var. Hackmanite (twinned),” Kokcha Valley, Sar-e-Sang, Badakshan Province, Afghanistan. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Synthetics

Laboratories have synthesized sodalites. Since the natural gems aren’t rare, no real market for them exists. However, sodalites, natural or synthetic, can simulate other blue gems, such as lapis lazuli. Although sodalite can contain white calcite inclusions like lapis, you can distinguish them by sodalite’s lack of pyrite inclusions.

Other popular blue gem materials, like azurite, lazulite (no relation to lazurite), and turquoise, typically show different shades of blue than sodalite. However, if the colors seem close, these stones react differently to ultraviolet testing.

Enhancements

Heating may cause these gems to lose color. However, irradiation can restore it.

White sodalites may receive dye treatments to turn them into the more popular blue gems.

Sources

Canada produces large amounts of gem-quality material. Bancroft, Ontario turns out massive, deep blue material with reddish streaks. Many provinces, including British Columbia, contain sources.

Ohopoho, Namibia yields extremely intense, solid blue material that’s sometimes very translucent, almost transparent (N = 1.486).

Other notable gem-quality sites include:

  • Arkansas; Colorado; Maine; Massachusetts; Montana; New Hampshire; South Dakota.
  • Afghanistan; Bahia, Brazil; Greenland; Ruma, Guinea; Rajasthan, India; Myanmar; Langesundsfford, Norway; Russia; Scotland.

Stone Sizes

Massive blue material, especial Canadian and Namibian, provides blocks for carvings, decorative objects, cabochons, or spheres of almost any size.

Lapidaries in Idar-Oberstein, Germany create many sodalite boxes and beads.

Gem cutters sometimes facet very translucent Namibian material. However, these beautiful gems are still very dark and not very transparent, except in sizes under 1 carat.

sodalite - faceted
Sodalite: Namibia (~ 2 each). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Care

Sodalites are tough but scratch easily due to their relatively low hardness (5.5 – 6). Other popular jewelry stones, like quartz and topaz, will scratch them. (So will household dust, over time, with a hardness of 7 – 7.5). Store any sodalite jewelry separately from other pieces to avoid contact scratches. Use protective settings for ring wear. Necklace and earring use should pose fewer risks. Clean these gems only with a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

sodalite - bracelet
“Chunk Sodalite Bracelet,” brass, sodalite beads, and glass flowers, by Ryan. Licensed under CC By-ND 2.0.