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Scapolite Gemstone

This family of gemstones is identified primarily by its unusual crystal structure which is known as  tetragonal  dipyramidal  (the  only  two  other  minerals on Earth that share this structure are the even lesser-known Powellite and Scheelite). Its structure provides a prismatic shape and its name is derived from the Greek word “scapo” meaning  ‘rod’  or  ‘shaft’.    Normally  found  in  colours similar to Rose-de-France Amethyst or Lemon Quartz, Scapolite is a gemstone that is highly prized  by  both  gem  collectors  and  jewellery connoisseurs. When  the  gem’s  appearance  is similar to Amethyst it is thought to help the wearer make important decisions, whereas the more lemony, citrus colours are said to provide relief from aches and pains.

Historically the gem was known as Chrysolite, which  was  a  name  given  to  many  greenish yellow  gems  including  Peridot  (see  also  the Breastplate of Aaron).  During the last century, the  gem  has  also  been  known  as  Wernerite,  Mizzonite, Dipyre and Marialite. Today its new  name Scapolite is widely recognised throughout  the gem industry.

Some believe Scapolite was first discovered in  Burma,  but  others  maintain  it  was  originally  found on Egypt’s St. John’s Island (once known  as  Topazios  and  today  renamed  Zeberget)  in  the  Red  Sea.  The  confusion  surrounding  its  discovery  is  likely  to  be  due  to  its  previous  identification as Chrysolite.

In addition to purple and yellow the gem can be  discovered  in  various  attractive  colours including,  pinkish  purple,  blue,  grey  and  colourless.  In  its  transparent  form  it  is  often  brilliant cut and when discovered translucent it  is  normally  cabochon  cut,  which  occasionally  enables the gem to display chatoyancy (a cat’s  eye  optical  effect). The  finest  samples  on  the  market today are from the Umba River area of  Tanzania;  other  locations  for  the  gem  include  Australia, Madagascar and the USA.

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A bright Scapolite pendant in 9k gold from the

Jacque Christie collection