reddish brown staurolite - oval cut, Brazil
reddish brown staurolite - oval cut, Brazil

Staurolite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Staurolite crystals in opaque cross shapes are popular gemstones. However, this material is very rarely transparent or facetable. These dark colored gems would make very durable jewelry pieces.

2 Minute Read

Staurolite crystals in opaque cross shapes are popular gemstones. However, this material is very rarely transparent or facetable. These dark colored gems would make very durable jewelry pieces.

reddish brown staurolite - oval cut, Brazil
This brownish red staurolite is lighter than typical for these gems. 1.67-ct, 9.1 x 7.0 x 2.9 mm, oval cut, Brazil. © ARK Rare Gems. Used with permission.
Staurolites - Minas Gerais, Brazil
Cut staurolites, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Gem cutting by Afonso Marques. Photo by Eurico Zimbres. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Comments

Staurolites can form as twinned crystals at either 60° or 90°, creating interesting natural cruciform pieces. Thus, these stones are popularly called “fairy crosses” or “fairy stones.” They’ve inspired a number of symbolic associations over time. According to George F. Kunz, the noted mineralogist and folklorist, a Virginia legend holds that the tears of fairies crying at the news of Christ’s death turned into these stones. People from many cultures throughout history have also treated cross-shaped staurolites as good luck charms.

staurolites "fairy stones" Virginia
“Fairy Stones,” both unpolished and polished, Fairy Stone State Park. Photo by Virginia State Parks. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Crystals with both 60° and 90° twinning are extremely rare.

Collectors highly prize faceted staurolites. However, such gems are rarely transparent, always small, dark in color, and lack fire or dispersion. Their interest lies in their extreme scarcity.

  • staurolite rough and cut set - Russia
  • staurolite rough - Russia
  • cut staurolite - Russia

    Staurolite rough and cut set, Keivy, Keivy Mountains, Kola Peninsula, Russia. 4.3 x 3.1 x 2.3 cm (crystal), 1.08-ct (brilliant pear-cut gem, source unknown). © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission. (Gem photo cropped to show detail and slide show created to facilitate comparison).

    Identifying Characteristics

    Zincian Staurolite

    Though very rare, zinc-bearing staurolites have lighter colors and make more attractive cut gems.

    Lusakite

    A deep blue, strongly pleochroic cobalt-bearing staurolite from Lusaka, Zambia.

    Synthetics

    Scientists have synthesized staurolites for petrological and crystallographic research. However, there is no known jewelry use for this material.

    Staurolite crystals aren’t rare. However, people have created simulations of cruciform crystals due to their popular symbolic associations. The manufacture of faux “fairy crosses” goes back at least a century. In the 1910s and 1920s, the mineralogist Joseph K. Roberts examined specimens from Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia and learned how some were likely created. In a 1934 article in American Mineralogist, Roberts noted that 90° “Roman Cross” shapes dominated the market, despite being the rarer variety. He discovered that many were cut from much softer talcose material, filed into shape, and then soaked in linseed or other oils to darken them. (A GIA note from 1963 describes a similar talcose imitation dipped in paraffin).

    Apparently, the demand for transparent, facetable staurolite hasn’t yet generated the same level of industrious deception.

    Enhancements

    Cruciform staurolites may be filed to improve the appearance of their terminations or smooth out surface cavities. Although weathering may give natural specimens a pitted appearance, Roberts also noted in his 1934 article that some imitations received artificial pockmarks to appear more natural!

    staurolites - Brittany, France
    Staurolites, Brittany, France, from the collection of the National Museum, Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by Karelj. Public Domain.

    Sources

    Brazil and Switzerland will occasionally produce facetable crystals.

    Various locations in the United States yield “fairy crosses.” Visitors to Fairy Stone State Park in Virginia and Blanchard Dam, near Little Falls, Minnesota, may gather them off the ground.

    Other notable crystal sources include

    • United States: Connecticut; Georgia (the state mineral); Maine; New Hampshire; New Mexico (fine twinned crystals); North Carolina; Vermont.
    • Canada; France; Russia; Scotland; Spain.
    • Lusaka, Zambia: lusakite.
    staurolite - Georgia
    "Cross twin" staurolite, J. M. Spear farm, Bluff Creek, Ball Ground, Ball Ground District, Cherokee Co., Georgia, USA, 4.5 x 4.5 x 1.4 cm. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

    Stone Sizes

    Always tiny, cut staurolites from Brazilian or Swiss material generally weigh under 2 carats.

    • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 3.0 (dark brown, Brazil).

    Care

    With a hardness of 7-7.5, faceted staurolites would make durable jewelry stones. However, stones with cavities associated with fractures that extend to the surface may have structural weakness. These may also collect dirt and grime. (Staurolite surface cavities typically occur when mineral inclusions weather out of the stone). Stay on the safe side and clean any staurolites, faceted or natural crystals, with a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Otherwise, these gems require no special care. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

    faceted staurolite - Brazil
    Staurolite: Brazil (0.50). Photo © 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


    International Gem Society

    Never Stop Learning

    When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.

    Become a Member

    Get Gemology Insights

    Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!