Wavellite is a very attractive mineral, well-known to collectors. Its radial aggregate crystal clusters can be cut into extremely interesting stones.
The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.
|Crystallography||Orthorhombic. Crystals very tiny; usually as radial aggregates of acicular crystals; often spherical crystal clusters; crusts; stalactitic.|
|Colors||White, greenish white, green, yellowish green, yellow, yellow-brown, brown to brownish black. Very rarely colorless, blueish.|
|Luster||Vitreous: also resinous to pearly.|
|Fracture||Subconchoidal to uneven. Brittle.|
|Cleavage||Perfect 1 direction.|
|Luminescence||Occasionally blueish in LW (various localities).|
|Formula||Al3(OH)3(PO4)2 · 5H2O.|
|Optics||a = 1.520-1.535; β = 1.526-1.543; γ =1.545-1.561. Biaxial (+), 2V= 71°.|
|Etymology||Named after William Wavell (1750-1829), the English physician who discovered the mineral.|
|Occurrence||A secondary mineral in hydrothermal veins; also in aluminous and phosphatic rocks.|
Since wavellite’s radiating crystal clusters can splinter, they make it a very difficult gem to cut. The individual crystals in the clusters are very small. Gem cutters can fashion cabochons as well as freeform shapes from this material. However, any faceted gems would be a tremendous rarity.
Hot Springs, Arkansas produces wavellites in fine, spherical and radial groups of acicular crystals.
The type locality, High Down Quarry, Devon, England, also produces excellent specimens.
Other gem-quality sources include:
- United States: Alabama; California; Colorado; Florida; Chester County, Pennsylvania.
- Tasmania, Australia; Bolivia; Bulgaria; Czech Republic; France; Germany; Ireland; Portugal; Romania; Slovakia.
Lapidaries can cut cabochons up to several inches in length from Arkansas material. No faceted gems have been reported, yet.
Wavellite has a relatively low hardness (3.5 to 4) and perfect cleavage. Thus, jewelry pieces such as rings need protective settings. Pendants and earrings would make excellent choices for this material. However, you’re more likely to encounter these stones in gem collections than jewelry collections.
Store these gems separately from other harder stones to avoid contact scratches. For cleaning, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Consult our Gemstone Jewelry Cleaning Guide for more recommendations.