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An appetite for Apatite
10 October 2017
Even if you consider yourself a gem aficionado, chances are you probably haven’t heard of Apatite. Not to be confused in spelling with the feeling of hunger, Apatite is starting to gain some attention in the jewellery world, and we’re delighted to be able to introduce it to you, our Katannuta Diamond clients.
But what is Apatite?
Apatite is a group of phosphate minerals, all with high concentrations of OH-, F- and Cl- ions in the crystal structure. Originally named as Apatite by a German geologist in 1786, Apatite is frequently mistaken for other minerals.
It has a hardness of 5 on Moh’s hardness scale and is considered a very soft gemstone. By comparison, diamond has a hardness of 10, sapphire and ruby of 9 and tanzanite, itself considered a soft gemstone, has a hardness of 6.5 – 7 on the hardness scale.
The softness of Apatite is one of the key characteristics that has, over time, resulted in it being labelled as an unsuitable gemstone for jewellery manufacture.
Apatite occurs naturally in a range of vivid colours, from blue and green to purple, violet and even golden yellow. One particular form of Apatite is known as the “asparagus stone”, due to its yellow-green colour and distinct rough crystal shape.
Gem-quality Apatite is hard to find and Brazil, Burma and Mexico with other minor sources occurring in Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Canada, Russia and Sweden.
The most popular colour Apatite amongst jewellery designers currently are the bright vivid blue colours, and it is this colour that results in it being frequently confused with Paraiba tourmalines. Looking at the vivid examples of the stones in the picture above, it’s not hard to see why.
Apatite is frequently cut into cabochons, particularly if the Apatite contains fine needles of rutile, resulting in an effect known as “chatoyance”, or the “cat’s eye” phenomenon.
As Apatite gains in popularity, it’s becoming more in demand and Katannuta Diamonds has a small, limited range of Apatite jewellery. Given the softness of the gem, we don’t recommend Apatite for rings and recommend only the purchase of Apatite earrings or pendants.
Should you wish to browse our range of Apatite jewellery, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.