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Appearance, Uses and History
Charoite is only found in a single location – the ‘Aldan Shield’, Siberia, Russia. It was named after the Chara River and was first described in 1978.
It is a relatively unknown mineral, perhaps for several reasons. When found unpolished, it is described as ‘unattractive’. We must also consider the international trade restrictions that would have been in place during that time period, with the gulf between the ‘West’ and the USSR.
It is a little soft for jewellery usage but looks gorgeous when cut and polished – ideal for necklaces and earrings, rather than rings.
Charoite has a bizarre appearance, a fibrous, random swirling pattern, which sometimes leads people to believe it is a synthetic material.
It’s possible these reasons, along with limited access from a single locale, have limited its use in popular ‘mainstream’ jewellery, which is a shame!
Photos of Charoite
Hazards and Warnings
Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.
When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.
Mandarin and Traditional Chinese: