San Diego Natural History Museum--Your Nature ConnectionSDNHM Field Guide
[Spodumene (Kunzite)  Collection of the San Diego Natural History Museum.]

Spodumene

From the Greek, spodoumenos, meaning "burnt to ash".

Description and Occurrence

Spodumene forms as flattened, prism-shaped crystals that can be very large, up to 16 meters long and weighing several tons. The crystals have fine, vertical ridges (striations). Spodumene can be colored white, gray, yellowish, green (hiddenite), and pink to purple (kunzite).

Common forms of spodumene are an important source of lithium. Hiddenite and kunzite are used as gemstones even though spodumene cracks easily.

Spodumene is found only in granite pegmatites. It can be found in Scotland, Sweden, Brazil, Burma, and parts of North America. Fine, gem-quality kunzite has been found in the pegmatite mining districts of San Diego County.

Field Notes: Spodumene has a flattened, prism-like shape. It's brittle and has a splintery fracture. Like tourmaline, it shows different colors when viewed through different axes (pleochroic).


Physical Properties

Color Streak Transparency Luster Hardness Cleavage Fracture Specific gravity Crystal form
white, gray, yellowish, green, pink to purple white transparent to translucent vitreous, pearly 6.5 to 7 good in two directions at nearly right angles uneven, splintery 3.1 to 3.2 monoclinic

Photo: Spodumene (var. Kunzite). Collection of the San Diego Natural History Museum
Photo credit: Linda West

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