faceted whewellite - Czech Republic
faceted whewellite - Czech Republic

Whewellite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Seldom seen even in mineral collections, whewellite is very rarely faceted. It’s mostly desired as a curiosity because of its scarcity, chemical composition, and unusual — sometimes organic — origins.

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Seldom seen even in mineral collections, whewellite is very rarely faceted. It’s mostly desired as a curiosity because of its scarcity, chemical composition, and unusual — sometimes organic — origins.

faceted whewellite - Czech Republic
Freeform step-cut whewellite, 3.12 cts, 15.6 x 6.8 mm, Czech Republic. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.
Whewellite crystals - Germany
Whewellites, 0.8 x 0.6 x 0.2 cm, Burgk, Dresden, Saxony, Germany. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Comments

A rare mineral, whewellite can develop both in the Earth and through organic means. It can grow hydrothermally in carbonate-sulfide veins and can also occur in coal seams as well as in concretions in plants and animals, most notably as kidney stones.

Although whewellites have fairly high dispersion, any faceted gems would be too small to appreciate this property. They have variable cleavage (from good to fair) in three directions and an extremely low hardness (a copper coin could scratch them). Thus, cutting and wearing them as jewelry stones is difficult.

Whewellites are best treated as display pieces for gem or mineral collections.

whewellite dark colored crystal
Whewellite, source unknown, from the collection of the Lille Natural History Museum, Lille, France. Photo by Vassil. Public Domain.

Synthetics

Scientists have synthesized whewellites for numerous projects, such as research into kidney stone formation and crystal twinning. However, there is no known jewelry use for this lab-created material.

Enhancements

None known.

Sources

Notable mineral sources include the following:

  • United States: Havre, Montana: in septarian concretions (nodules); Elk Creek, South Dakota: fine crystals up to 6 cm in length, among the finest in the world.
  • Burgk, Germany: crystals up to several inches in length.
  • Czech Republic; France; Hungary; Russia.
whewellite crystal - Czech Republic
Whewellite crystal, from the collection of the National Museum, Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by Sbisolo. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

Stone Sizes

Crystals are usually very small and colorless. From these, faceters could cut gems that typically weigh about 2 carats.

Care

Avoid cleaning whewellites with any solution that contains acids. Clean only with warm water, mild detergent, and a soft brush.

Whewellites contain oxalates (C2O4), and their consumption can lead to kidney stone formation. While these are present in some common foods and pose a risk if ingested over time, whewellites contain oxalates in greater concentration. Faceters should wear dust masks to avoid accidentally ingesting particles.

Exposure to whewellite dust may also cause acute skin irritation, especially in children and pets, so faceters should wear protective clothing and make sure to clean their workspace. A glovebox to contain dust would be ideal.

For more safety tips, see our article on lapidary health hazards.


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


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