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Scapolite

Cushion-cut violet scapolite weighing 76.9 ct.
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
Catalog Number NMNH G10665-00
Locality Tanzania
Weight 76.9 ct

Gift of Jeff Bland in 2010.

Scapolite, which is the Greek word for “shaft”  is commonly found in stubby to long prismatic crystals. It is an aluminum silicate mineral with sodium and calcium and is part of a series whose end members are marialite and meionite. The gem material was first discovered in 1913 in the Mogok area of Burma, as fibrous white, pink and violet crystals. When cut en cabochon these gems exhibit the optical phenomena of chatoyancy and can form cat’s eyes due to the inclusions of parallel cavities. In 1920, yellow scapolite was found in Madagascar, and in 1930 similar material was found in Brazil and later Mozambique. Gem quality scapolites have also been found in Kenya and Tanzania, resembling amethyst in color. Scapolite is usually yellow to orange, pink or violet, but its lack of dispersion and low hardness keep it from being a well known gemstone. This beautiful 76.9ct scapolite from Tanzania is rare not only for its intense deep purple color, but also for the clarity and size.

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