Spodumene

Spodumene is an ore of Lithium which was important throughout most of the 20th century, but its use has been superseded by other sources of Lithium.

High grade, clearer pieces are used as a gemstone, with a few distinct varieties – pink and purple Kunzite, green Hiddenite, and yellow Triphane. Kunzite and Hiddenite are the two most popular.

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Appearance, Uses and History

Spodumene is used as an ore of Lithium, although in modern times has been replaced with other, more effective sources of Lithium. It is sometimes still used when the demand for Lithium becomes too high.

Given the current reliance on Lithium batteries, it is likely the demand for Spodumene will rise – electric cars, mobile phones, tablets – they all have Lithium based batteries and research into new technology will use huge amounts of various metals.

Lithium is also used in ceramics, medicines, and as a flux.

One of its uses is for gemstone jewellery making. However, Spodumene has perfect cleavage, which makes it less than ideal for jewellery – they cannot take much damage and may break easily.

Spodumene can form extremely large crystals; they can be 3-4 feet wide and 30 feet long, or even larger!


Locales

Spodumene is found in a few different locations, including Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, Mozambique, Pakistan, and the USA.


Mineralogy

Chemistry
A Lithium aluminium silicate, with the chemical formula LiAlSi2O6.
Colours and Variations
A wide range of colours, including bicoloured pieces. Can be white, colourless, grey, pink, violet, purple, yellow, green, lilac. It is often pleochroic.
Varieties include:

  • Hiddenite: a pale to emerald green variety, used as a gemstone.
  • Kunzite: a light purple variety, used as a gemstone.
  • Triphane: a yellow variety, sometimes used as a gemstone, but less often than Hiddenite/Kunzite.
Streak
White
Luster
Vitreous, silky
Fracture
Uneven, splintery
Transparency
Transparent to opaque
Crystal habit
Flat prismatic crystals, tabular, bladed, and massive. Crystals often have striations.
Mohs hardness
6.5 – 7.0
Specific Gravity
3.1 – 3.2
Fluorescence
Kunzite may be fluorescent.
Easiest testing method
Common Treatments
Sometimes heat treated to enhance the colours or remove brown tones.

Photos of Spodumene

Spodumene-gem7-78b
Spodumene-vlt-27a
Spodumène (Pakistan)

Triphane 2
Spodumen,4 Madagaskar

Photos of Hiddenite

Hiddenite sur gangue (Afghanistan) - 95 mm - 1
Hiddenite 8
Hiddénite, cleavelandite, quartz

Spodumene-57223
Hiddenite, quartz fumé
Hiddénite, cleavelandite, quartz 2

Photos of Kunzite

Kunzite (Afghanistan) 1
Kunzite (Afghanistan)
Spodumene-152468

Spodumene-50008
Spodumene-pala44a
Spodumene var. kunzite sur quartz (Brésil)

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.


Translations

Arabic:

  • سبودومين
  • كونزيت

Hindi:

Portuguese:

  • espodumeno

Bengali:

Indonesian:

Punjabi:

English:

  • spodumene
  • kunzite
  • hiddenite
  • triphane

Italian:

Russian:

  • сподуменовая

French:

  • spodumène

Japanese:

  • スポジュメン
  • クンツァイト

Spanish:

  • kunzita

German:

  • Spodumen
  • Kunzit

Korean:

  • 스포 듀민
  • 쿤 자이 트

Thai:

  • ต่างๆเช่นสปอดูมีน

Gujurati:

  • કુંઝાઇટ

Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:

  • 锂辉石
  • 鋰輝石

Urdu:

  • کنزائٹ

Further Reading / External Links