Kyanite: Blue Nepalese Beauty
For many years kyanite was seen as just a mineral with no real value as a gemstone. Recent finds of high quality kyanite has changed that however.
Some of these kyanite gemstones can challenge fine blue spinel and sapphire at a fraction of the cost. Just keep in mind that kyanite is not as tough, but with proper care you’ll be able to enjoy it for many years to come.
What is Kyanite?
They are polymorphs, which means that they have the same chemical formula but a different crystal structure. The name kyanite refers to the Greek word ‘kyanos’ which means deep blue.
Usually kyanite is blue, it can be found in several other colors including green, orange and pink. On rare occasions it shows chatoyancy (cats eye). Unfortunately it’s hard to keep this property when they are cut into gemstones.
There are multiple kyanite uses, such as the usage in ceramics. This use is mostly limited to industrial products, though kyanite dishes are being produced. It is used in the electronics industry and as an abrasive.
Not as well-known but still quite important is the use as an index mineral. Depending on the pressure, depth and temperature of the place where this mineral is formed or changed (by metamorphism) either kyanite, andalusite or sillimanite will form. This property makes it invaluable for geologists to determine the origin of rocks.
Kyanite is found in a number of countries including India, Kenya, Burma, Zimbabwe and the USA. However most of these deposits are of a lower quality. They produce nice blue crystals, but they are no match for other blue gemstones like sapphires or blue spinel.
In 1995 however high quality kyanite with a rich deep blue color was found in Nepal. Unfortunately the production in the Nepal mines is low which makes most kyanite found on the market today of mediocre quality.
A rare property, called anisotropism, of kyanite is that they have a varying hardness. In one direction they have a hardness of 6.5 to 7 on Mohs hardness scale, however perpendicular on that direction they will have a hardness of only 4.5 to 5. This combined with its perfect cleavage in one direction makes cutting it quite difficult.
Kyanite Meaning and Kyanite Healing Properties
For those who believe in the power of crystals or stones blue kyanite offers to help with communication. Not just normal communication but telepathy and other psychic abilities as well.
In history it was believed that when you suspended kyanite from a hair you could use it as a compass. This is the reason that it is sometimes referred to as the traveler’s stone.
Taking Care of Your Kyanite Gemstones
Here are a few tips for keeping your kyanite jewelry or loose stones in the best shape possible:
- Kyanite is quite brittle, so you should avoid physical labor while wearing it. It’s probably best to settle for a necklace, pendant or earrings, because these are not as likely to be damaged as kyanite rings or bracelets.
- Cleaning is best done with lukewarm water and a mild soap. Be sure you dry it afterwards with a soft towel and let it air for a few minutes before storing it. Stay away from jewelry cleaners, most of them contain chemicals that could damage your gemstone as they can be slightly porous.
- I would not use a jewelry steam cleaner because kyanite can be sensitive to heat. An ultrasonic jewelry cleaner should be safe to use, however if you’ve bought a porous kyanite you could be in trouble. Both of these methods usually require jewelry cleaner for extra effect as well. To sum up, I’d stick to water and soap as it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Kyanite like all gemstones should be stored separately. With its varying hardness it’s even more likely that it will be damaged when just lumped together with other gemstones or gemstone jewelry.
Kyanite Buying Guide
Even though high quality kyanite is almost entirely limited to a few mines in Nepal, the availability of larger amounts of medium (or worse) quality kyanite make this gemstone quite accessible.
Synthetic kyanite does not exist, though some dealers claim otherwise. Be aware that it’s very likely that they are simply trying to sell you cheap imitations.
Imitations do exist, but kyanite is not very expensive unlike most other blue gemstones. So it’s not likely you will have to deal with them.
It still is best to shop at a renowned dealer as some people will try to sell dyed quartz or even glass as kyanite. Still it is far more likely that kyanite itself will be used to imitate the more expensive blue spinel or sapphires.
So how expensive is kyanite? Not that expensive, a good quality one carat kyanite gemstone sells for around $30. However because most kyanite is found in small sizes the price per carat of larger gemstones can increase dramatically. Top quality 3 carat+ stones easily sell for over $100 per carat. However this is still far below most other blue gemstones.
Color is the most important part of that price, a rich deep blue color is the most expensive. Though violet or purple kyanite is not that far behind. Clarity comes second, unfortunately most kyanite is slightly to heavily included.
Most kyanite on the market will be eye-clean at best, but there is still enough of it that you should not be settling for moderately included or worse gemstones. The beauty of kyanite really suffers from the inclusions.
Cut is important as well because of the varying hardness of kyanite. A good cut will make sure that it has the highest hardness possible in the parts that are exposed.
Shape determines part of the price as well, a faceted kyanite can be twice as expensive than one that is cut en cabochon. This is because cabochons are easier to make and retain more of their weight.
It will be fairly hard to find kyanite in a local jewelry shop. Especially if you are looking for high quality stones or jewelry. Be sure to call ahead so you don’t waste your valuable time. Crystal shops, handmade jewelry and bead shops usually sell kyanite, however they mostly are rough or low quality kyanite that is more suited for beading than for use in jewelry.
So where do I buy my kyanite? Contact a colored gemstone dealer in the neighborhood or shop around online. Most of the smaller sites don’t offer it, however it’s quite easy to find it on large retail sites.
Do a background check on the dealer you are buying from though (particularly on sites like Ebay or Amazon). Especially if you are buying an expensive piece. A simple look at feedback or typing their name into Google could save you a lot of trouble and money.
Most pre-set kyanite jewelry focuses on kyanite rings, they certainly look amazing, but keep in mind that they are not nearly as tough as diamonds, sapphires or rubies. Earrings and necklaces are around as well and they are more suitable for daily wear, though you should still be careful with them.