emerald-cut wulfenite - Red Cloud Mine
emerald-cut wulfenite - Red Cloud Mine

Wulfenite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


Although aesthetically magnificent wulfenite crystals are often too thin, soft, and sensitive to cut for jewelry, rare faceted pieces are greatly prized by collectors. The red of wulfenite, especially from the Red Cloud Mine in Arizona, is one of the richest colors in nature.

2 Minute Read

Although aesthetically magnificent wulfenite crystals are often too thin, soft, and sensitive to cut for jewelry, rare faceted pieces are greatly prized by collectors. The red of wulfenite, especially from the Red Cloud Mine in Arizona, is one of the richest colors in nature.

emerald-cut wulfenite - Red Cloud Mine
Emerald-cut wulfenite, 2.53 cts, Red Cloud Mine, Arizona. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

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Wulfenite Value

.5 to 1.5 carat
Faceted
to /ct

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wulfenites on mimetite - Mexico
Orange wulfenites on red-orange mimetite, 3.5 x 2.6 x 2.2 cm, San Francisco Mine, Cucurpe, Sonora, Mexico. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

What is Wulfenite?

Wulfenite and stolzite form a mineral series, as the molybdenum (Mo) and tungsten (W) analogues, respectively.

Does Wulfenite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

Many localities across the globe produce wulfenites. However, cuttable material is very rare, indeed. Individual crystals usually have a tabular structure. As a result, they're frequently too thin to find a fragment suitable for cutting.

wulfenites - China
The wulfenites in this specimen contain inclusions that make one side of their crystal surfaces brown. The other sides are lustrous red. 8.3 x 7.3 x 4.6 cm, source near Urumqi, Kuruktag Mountains, Xinjiang Uygur Region, Northern China. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Should a faceter acquire a suitable piece, even more challenges await. These beautiful gems combine very low hardness (2.5 to 3) with sensitivities to both heat and vibration. You're more likely to find wulfenites in mineral collections than in jewelry collections.

Any faceted wulfenites in jewelry should have protective settings. Although not well suited for jewelry use, faceted pieces make stunning collector's gems.

Wulfenites - Namibia and Arizona
Wulfenites: Tsumeb, Namibia (6); Red Cloud Mine, Arizona (1.5). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Identifying Characteristics

Wulfenites may show an anomalous biaxial optic character.

Under physical pressure, some wulfenite crystals may generate an electric charge. This is known as the piezoelectric effect.

faceted and rough wulfenites
Wulfenites: Arizona (gem ~ 1.5, crystal 1 inch long, Red Cloud Mine). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Are There Synthetic Wulfenites?

Laboratories have synthesized both wulfenites and stolzites through pulled (Czochralski) and flux methods. Sintering cerussite with molybdite (a mineral source of Mo) has also produced synthetic wulfenites. While these synthetics have industrial uses, they have also appeared as attractive crystals and even faceted pieces.

There are no known gemstone treatments or enhancements for wulfenites.

synthetic wulfenite
Synthetic wulfenite, 84.7 cts. © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Where is Wulfenite Found?

Notable gem-quality sources include the following:

  • United States: Arizona (Glove Mine, Rowley Mine, Red Cloud Mine, Mammoth Mine, others); California; Loudville, Massachusetts; Nevada; New Mexico; Wheatley Mines, Chester, Pennsylvania; Utah.
  • Tsumeb, Namibia: yellowish tan crystals up to 5 inches on edge, some facetable.
faceted wulfenites - Tsumeb, Namibia
Wulfenites, 5.94 and 6.11 cts, Tsumeb, Namibia. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
  • Mexico: Los Lamentos (many other locations).
  • rough and cut set, wulfenite - Mexico
  • modified octagonal-cut wulfenite - Mexico

    Rough and cut set, wulfenite crystal and modified octagonal-cut gem, 4.3 x 3.2 x 2.7 cm (crystal), 1.32 cts (gem). Ahumada Mine, Los Lamentos, Chihuahua, Mexico. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

    • Algeria; Argentina; Australia; Austria; Chile; China; Czech Republic; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Germany; Sardinia, Italy; Morocco; Poland; Republic of the Congo; Slovakia; Slovenia.
    wulfenite - Congo
    Rectangle-cut wulfenite, 1.91 cts, 8.1 x 4.8 mm, Republic of Congo. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

    Stone Sizes

    Red wulfenites over one carat and yellowish or orange stones over two carats are extremely scarce. The only larger stones come from rough from Tsumeb, Namibia, which has produced crystals several inches across. This material has yielded faceted gems over 50 carats in size. However, this locality produces very few facetable gems very infrequently. Thus, faceters have cut very few stones from this source.

    faceted wulfenite, 4 cts - Tsumeb, Namibia
    Wulfenite, 4.0 cts, Tsumeb, Namibia. Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Occasionally, U.S. localities produce crystals both thick and transparent enough for faceting. These include, most notably, the Red Cloud Mine and the Seventy-Nine Mine in Arizona as well as other sources. Some of these crystals have yielded gems up to about five carats.

    wulfenites - 79 Mine and Red Cloud, Arizona, Namibia
    Wulfenites: 79 Mine, Arizona (3.25); Tsumeb, Namibia (54); Red Cloud Mine, Arizona (1.4). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.
    • Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC): 46.1, 15.7, 9.6 (pale yellow, Tsumeb); 10+ (orange, Los Lamentos, Mexico).
    • Devonian Group (Calgary, Alberta, Canada): 15.25 (yellow, Tsumeb); 9.44 (red, Arizona).
    • Private Collection: 54 (yellow, Tsumeb).
    faceted wulfenite - Namibia
    Wulfenite: Tsumeb, Namibia (21+). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

    Caring for Wulfenite Gemstones

    Wulfenites are so soft, copper coins can scratch them. Household dust, which contains silicon quartz, will scratch them even more easily. Treat any wulfenites, whether gems or crystals, very delicately. Resist the urge to just wipe dust off their surfaces. Instead, pat them clean with a lint-free cloth.

    Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more care recommendations.

    • rough and cut set, wulfenite - Red Cloud Mine, Arizona
    • freeform cut, wulfenite - Red Cloud Mine, Arizona

      Rough and cut set, wulfenite crystal and freeform step eye-cut, 2.0 x 1.1 x 0.3 cm (crystal), 1.02 cts (gem). Red Cloud Mine, La Paz County, Arizona. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. 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


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