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Kyanite Gemstones - Also known as Disthene, Rhaeticite or Cyanite gemstones


The Greek word Kyanos, means deep blue, and it is from this word that Kyanite gets its name; this is a generally deep blue silicate mineral, which is found in metamorphic pegmatite or sedimentary rocks which have a high content of aluminum. Kyanite is also known as Disthene, Rhaeticite or Cyanite gemstone. Kyanite that is found in metamorphic rocks, is one that was formed at low pressures, sometimes going below 4 kilobars. The rock is quite stable at low pressures and temperatures and the activity of water is heightened at such low levels of pressure and temperature. The water is the replaced by hydrous aluminum silicates which are like muscovite, kaolinite, and pyrophyllite. The other names that Kyanite is known as include cyanite, disthene and rhaeticite.

Among the minerals that form the aluminosilicate group are the polymorphs andalusite and sillimanite, and Kyanite is also a member of this group. Kyanite is identified using its anisotropic characteristics. A gemstone with such characteristics is that which has a varying degree of hardness which is brought about by the direction of it crystal formation.

When heated to temperatures that are higher than 11 degree Celsius, Kyanite will break down into mullit and vitreous silica. This is a reaction that brings about expansion in volume of the crystals.

The uses of Kyanite gemstones

Primarily, Kyanite is used in the making of ceramic products and refractory materials. It is used for making plumbing items which include porcelain and other forms of dishware. You will also find Kyanite being used to make abrasives, electrical insulators and electronics.

However, Kyanite is also used as a semiprecious stone in the making of jewelry; it is said to exhibit Chatoyancy, which is also known as the cat’s eye effect. Its use in jewelry is limited because of the anisotropic characteristic and perfect cleavage which make it very hard to find a stone with hardness that can faceted into a gemstone. There are many color varieties, with some, such as the orange Kyanite, being recently discovered in Tanzania. The orange color of this new variety is brought about by the presence of manganese in the crystals.

Kyanite, is scientifically used as an index mineral, which has been used to estimate the temperature pressure and depth, which brings about the metamorphosis of rocks in the ground.

Identification of Kyanite gems

Kyanite is first identified visually, since it has blue crystals and the columnar crystals are usually elongated. There are also other minerals that are associated with Kyanite, which also have various uses. These include the polymorphs of staurolite, which is found at the same time as Kyanite. However, the one characteristic that usually tells whether a blue crystal is really Kyanite is the anisotropic character. If one is to tell whether a certain specimen is actually Kyanite, he or she has to find two different hardness values on perpendicular axes. On one parallel, 100, the stone has a hardness of 7, and another of 5.5 on the 001.

The occurrence of Kyanite

You will find Kyanite in Schist, Gneiss, pegmatite and quartz veins; all these should be as a result of high pressure in the regional metamorphic process of the original pelitic rock. In sedimentary rocks, this mineral can be found as detrital grains. When found, it is associated with saturolite, andalusite, talc, hornblende, sillimanite, corundum and gedrite mullite. Kyanite has also been found in Manhattan Schist; this is a layer of metamorphic rocks that was formed when the two landmasses that resulted in the formation of the supercontinent Pangaea moved together and built up a high level of pressure in the ground.

A profile of Kyanite

Kyanite is said to resemble some of the best sapphire stones because it has quite a deep blue color. This is a gemstone that is also known as Disthene, and it is also very rare. The name comes from the Greek name for Deep Blue, Kyanos. This gemstone has not been named as a birthstone, but it is sometimes associated with one of the following zodiac signs; Taurus, Aries and Libra.

In the gemstone world, it is called the sapphire of the poor man, but this is just a case of people trying to belittle a very great gemstone; this is the story given by people who cannot get Kyanite of a hardness that can be turned into a faceted gem. This is one of the most misunderstood gems in the world, but some aficionados believe that this is a stone that will soon become one of the most sought-after, within the next decade.

The fact that this is a gemstone that has the rich blue colors of sapphires means that this is a stone that will be associated with loyalty and serenity; calm, innovation and wonderful dreams. This is also associated with the third-eye, and throat chakras.

This is a gemstone that is usually set into rings, pendants and earrings, making it a preferred choice for personal adornment. This is a shiny and translucent gemstone, which is well-known for having serious variations in its hardness, a character known as anisotropism. This is a characteristic, which is very rare in gemstones, and is sometimes also known as polymorphism. The hardness of Kyanite will depend on the axis of the gem, and this means that the gemstone must be cut in a way that the right axis is used. It has a hardness of 6.5 to 7, on one axis and 4.5 to 5 on another axis. The fact that Kyanite is made of many layers, ensures that it is great for splitting into several smaller gemstones. This is a characteristic that is known as having a perfect cleavage.

However, the polymorphic nature and perfect cleavage of Kyanite makes it a very challenging gemstone for many lapidaries to facet. This is one of the reasons why this gemstone has only been a collector’s items, and when it is cut, it is made into cabochons or beads. However, as the cutters know more about the polymorphic nature of this stone, they are now attempting to facet it with some degree of success.

There have been occasions when green Kyanite has been found, and this is called the Emerald Kyanite. It is quite striking in appearance and it is similar to the Zambian Emerald; this is a variety that is really sought-after by gemstone collectors. When the stone is in the normal blue color, it looks like a sapphire; there have been specimens that have been found in Nepal and Tibet, that are comparable to the very fine Kashmir Sapphires.

Kyanite from Tibet and Nepal is mined at high altitudes and is heavily zoned and regulated. The gemstone is still very rare, even in these places, and getting a stone that is over 3 carats is very hard. Although the zones are heavily regulated, you can still get some Kyanite deposits that are found within these two zones. Kyanite is also found on the alluvial deposits of several areas in the United States of America and Brazil.

Interesting facts about Kyanite

Naming and mining of Kyanite – this gemstone is named after Kyanos, the Greek word for deep blue, and it is truly a fantastic blue. The Kyanite from Nepal is similar to some of the finest sapphire stones in the world. Until recent finds on the Kali Gandaki River Region in the West Central Nepal, Kyanite was a gemstone that was only known in collector circles in the gemstone world. The first significant amounts of Kyanite were mined in this Nepalese area, and they are mainly used for faceting and creating fine jewelry. Before this major find in Nepal, the only main source of Kyanite was Brazil, where only mineral quality Kyanite was found; there are many other places in the world where mineral quality Kyanite is found, and this is used in the manufacturing world.

Caring for Kyanite – This is one of the few minerals that have the unique ability to have two types of hardness on the Mohs scale. You can liken this ability to that of wood, which is harder across the grain, and softer along it. This is what happens with Kyanite, which has a hardness of 7 in one direction and one of 5.5 in another. This character also affects the cleavage, meaning that it can cleave in the same two directions. The gemstone is similar to sapphire and when it is used to make jewelry, it has to be treated with a lot of care; as opposed to the way you would treat sapphire. It has to be carefully set when it is being used to make jewelry, and a lot of care is taken even when it is worn. The jeweler knows that this is not a sapphire and has to be treated with kid gloves, when it is being faceted and set.

Colors of Kyanite – This gemstone has a color that will put some sapphire stones to shame; the rich blue variety is one of the most sought-after colors of Kyanite. One of the newest, and most rare colors of Kyanite is that which comes from Orissa, in India. It has a teal color, and is called the Chromium Kyanite, and has a high content of Chromium, which gives it a green hue, thereby earning it the name Emerald Kyanite. Another popular color is the orange Kyanite, which is found in Tanzania. The color of mineral and bead Kyanite is usually a mix of green and blue, and also moss-colored greenish shades.

The shape of Kyanite – The crystals of this gemstone are elongated and for this reason, the gemstone is cut into ovals and emerald cuts. It is possible to get other cuts, and cabochons are popular because it is very hard to get this crystal in huge sizes.

The value of Kyanite – If you want to buy a good Kyanite gemstone, you should look for those that have an even and deep color. The blue stones usually have color zoning, but you should look at the gemstone from the top; if you get a large stone, no matter what the color, you should buy it, because it is really rare and precious.

A fun fact of Kyanite - You may never have had the chance of having a piece of Kyanite set in your jewelry, but you may be carrying one in your car. Non-gem quality Kyanite is used to make several parts that can be used in your car, but the most notable is the spark plug; something that a car cannot do without.

The legends and myths of Kyanite

For quite a while, propel have said that the deep blue colors of Kyanite can bring about composure, loyalty, respect, serenity and inspire calmness. This is a gemstone that has long been used by traditional and alternative healers as a tool that helps in deep meditation and relaxation. It is said to be used to open the Third-eye Chakra, which allows for the facilitation of creativity, understanding other people and also widening the perception of the wearer. This gemstone is also said to cultivate tranquility, and is therefore useful for bringing about clarity in dreams, foresight and visualization.

Additional information about Kyanite gemstones

If one was to consider looks alone, then the Kyanite, which has a deep blue color like that of the Kashmir Sapphire and also the Sri Lankan sapphire would truly be a gift to those who would like to own such a magnificent gemstone. When looking at other gemstones of this color, the Tanzanite has astronomically high prices, and the sapphire has been inundated with scandals where synthetic and treated sapphire is passed on as the genuine item. Cobalt blue spinel is said to be much rare than a hen’s tooth, while Iolite does not tickle the lining of the public.

However, when looks are set aside, Kyanite is said to be a headache to most jewelry cutters, and they say that this is a gemstone that you simply look at, but do not touch. This gemstone has a directional hardness that ranges from 4 to 7 on the Mohs scale, and also has a perfect cleavage, making it very brittle; a simply tap on the stone can make it to split along the cleavage into two separate stones. It is said to be a gemstone that can only be worn on the ears and neck, but never should it be worn on the wrist and fingers; this means that it can make earrings, necklaces and pendants, but never bracelets and rings.

On the other hand, you should not rule out this aluminum silicate; if you have customers who would like to own every blue gemstone in the world, or simply want to have a recently-found gemstone in their collection, then you will have a ready buyer at hand. This is the best time to make great sales when it comes to Kyanite. In the year 1995, miners working in Nepal which is an area that lies between Tibet and India, found what is said to be the best quality deposit of Kyanite ever found. Before this magnificent deposit was uncovered, the best Kyanite stones, which could be faceted only had light to medium blue tones in color. One importer, known as Michael Schramm, who is in Boulder, Colorado, said that the market is seeing cobalt blue colors of this gemstone that makes one think of a superior sapphire stone.

One should not think that there is an over-abundance of Kyanite in the market. Actually, there is only a small trickle of Kyanite gemstones available today. A decade ago, most jewelers laughed at the idea that Kyanite would even make a ripple in the gemstone world, but today, their laughs had fried on their lips and they are frantically looking for the few gemstones available. Today you will find dealers who are only too proud to claim that they have Nepalese Kyanite in their collections.

The sapphire connection of Kyanite

Ever since Kyanite was found, mined and cut, people have always compared it to the sapphire due to its blue color. The famed gemologist Max Bauer, said that the gemstone has been sold in Europe, for quite a while, as sappare, at the start of the 29th century. In one of the books that he wrote in 1905 emitted Precious Stones, he says that Kyanite can be compared, to a certain extent, to sapphires. It is actually claimed that the stone was mistakenly sold as sapphire in some jewelry stores. It is said that at the time it was called Sappare, and the name is still used today to refer to Kyanite among some circles. The name Sappare came into being when a mineralogist from Geneva, called Saussure Junior, made a mistake and read the label placed on a specimen that resembled a sapphire. The mistake was recognized and rectified, but the name is still respected, especially by French gemstone dealers, and it has become an established name in Europe.

Of course, today, the term Sappare is not widely used, and the gemstone is properly known as Kyanite, which is a modernization of the name Cyanit; the name can is used to describe the color blue, especially in printing circles. The name Cyanit was originally used when describing this gemstone in 1789. The way the name has been changed is understandable, given that Cyanit can sometimes be mistaken as Cyanide, which is a substance that is feared. However, putting the naming aside, it is important for the world to know that there were Kyanite gemstone being sold in the finer jewelry stores in France at the turn of the century. Now even the recent offerings made by ACN Jewelry Television, for this gemstone, also brings to fore the shock value of the stone. This is a shop-at-home station that allows people to buy jewelry and loose stones from the comfort of their homes.

Most of Kyanite dealers in the world today do not restrict themselves to the variety that is found in Nepal alone, including the CAN Jewelry Television. The dealers also stock varieties from Brazil and North Carolina, the two main sources for fine jewelry-quality gemstones in the Western hemisphere. One cutter from Montana, who works for Coast-to-Coast Gems, has got varieties that come from Switzerland and Brazil, as well as stock from Nepal. Kenya was also one of the famous sources of Kyanite, before the Nepalese variety was found, and even when the country produced commemorative stamps for their gemstones, Kyanite was the third gemstone to be honored; this was in 1977, when the country produced a series of 15 postage stamps for this purpose.

Kyanite, as a rule, is hardly found in huge sizes, and the upper limit of 2 carats is considered normal, especially when talking about the fine specimens from Nepal; this limit has been surpassed on several occasion, with gemstones with a carat weight of 20 and above having been found in Nepal. However, even with these large exceptions to the rule, they are still considered small, when compared to the varieties found in North Carolina, where a cut stone of about 85 carats was once found in the late 1990s.

It is a well-known fact that Kyanite is a very difficult stone to cut; due to this, most of the cut stones follow the rectangular shape of the rough. This means that most available stones in the market are cushion and rectangle cuts; you either settle for this shape, or not at all. Most cutter do not like being given Kyanite to work with. One cutter called gray, says that he passes on any cutting assigned to him, to other cutters. This means that there is very little fine cuts that are available, with 98 percent of the rough being lost. Even when being cut into cabochons, only a small percent can make it to the final polished stone.

When it comes to color, the stone is found mainly in powder to cobalt blue, and most of the stones are the lighter variety. However, the Nepalese blue variety is truly giving the sapphire a run for its money. You can also get Kyanite in its Bi-colored forms, but these are usually hues of the same color. You can find a stone that has both the dark and light blue colors within the same crystal. There are stones that have come from Brazil, which have both the blue and green colors. There are new findings from Tanzania, which have bi-colors that can only be described as being aqua and midnight blue. You can also expect to find bands of color that look like stream, but these are due to the pleochroic nature of the stone.

In summary

The Nepalese Kyanite is arguable the best quality that you will ever find, and it has very rich blue tones, which remind one of the finest sapphires available today. One would not know it, but this blue color, has a similar science to that found in a blue sapphire; there is an electron transfer between the titanium and iron elements. Although the teal blue color of Chromium Kyanite is due to the presence of chromium, Vanadium also plays a great part in the exhibition of this color. Although andalusite, sillimanite and Kyanite are different minerals, they are all related due to the fact that they are polymorphs, all having the same formula, namely aluminum silicate; they all have different gemological properties and crystal structures and hence the difference. Kyanite is a bargain given the fact that it is a rare gemstone of astounding beauty.

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