Sugilite: Purple Pleasure

by delpfinewelch on June 29, 2009

If you like purple, you’ll like sugilite. 

The color of sugilite ranges from pale lavender to a deep purple.  Pure purple–with no impurities–and translucent, is the most valued and is considered gem grade.  Gem grade is the most expensive and the most rare.  Gem grade sugilite is also known under the trade names of “Royal Lavulite” and “Royal Azel.”

Sugilite is relatively rare and relatively new.  It was found first in Japan in intrusive igneous rock in 1944 by Ken-ichi Sugi and named for him.  A large deposit was discovered in South Africa in 1975 in a metamorphosed manganese deposit.  Four years later, another deposit was found 3200 ft below the original.  It has also been reported from Canada, India, Italy, and Australia.  

The chemical formula of sugilite is KNa2(Fe,Mn,Al)2Li3Si12O30.  It has a hardness of 5.5 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale.

Like so many other minerals, sugilite often contains black matrix.  That’s true of my stash of sugilite rough.  Not gem grade, but beautiful nonetheless.  Actually, I think that the strings of black matrix give it character. 

Here are some photos of jewelry that I’ve made featuring sugilite cabochons that I’ve cut:

Sterling silver woven wire necklace with clasp featuring a sugilite cabochon

Sterling silver woven wire necklace with clasp featuring a sugilite cabochon.

Sterling silver pin with sugilite cabochon and cobaltocalcite drusy.

Sterling silver pin with sugilite cabochon and cobaltocalcite drusy.

delpfinewelch

delpfinewelch

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

John Rasmussen July 1, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Yes a very beautiful stone, with an unique color. Just a bit soft for general applications; makes great pendants and other “protected” settings.

John

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