Pietersite: Swirling Gemstone of Storms
Pietersite is one of the most amazing gemstones you can find. It might take a while to get your hands on it, but it’s almost guaranteed that nobody around you has seen anything quite like it.
Though pietersite can be difficult to obtain it is certainly worth the effort. Nothing can compare to the vibrant swirling colors of pietersite.
What is Pietersite?
Pietersite is a chalcedony, which is a mixture of quartz and moganite (not to be confused with morganite), a quartz polymorph. It is embedded with fibers of amphibole minerals, which give it a large variety of colors including red, blue and yellow. Some pietersite gemstones have chatoyancy, better known as cat’s eye.
This amazing gemstone has been discovered fairly recently by Sid Pieters. When he was prospecting in Namibia in 1962 he found an unknown mineral and took it back to Britain where the find was published in 1964.
It took until 1993 before a new source was found. Deposits were found in China, though it took some time before it was accepted as pietersite. The problem was that the pietersite minerals from Namibia have a different look than those in China.
Namibian pietersite usually has a lot of black which makes the contrast with the other colors even more pronounced. While in Chinese pietersite blue, yellow and red are the main colors.
Pietersite has a good hardness of 6.5 to 7 on Mohs hardness scale. During and after its formation it was subjected to processes that folded and fractured this mineral. Causing it to show a large amount of banding and swirls.
This is the main reason that pietersite is fairly brittle despite its lack of cleavage.
Pietersite Meaning and Pietersite Healing Properties
Pietersite carries the power of the storm element in it for those who believe in the power of crystals and stones.
It gives of large amounts of energy that gives courage, strength and awareness to the wearer.’This makes pietersite especially helpful for those that need an extra boost to change something in their lives.
Taking Care of Your Pietersite Gemstones
If you are fortunate (or persistent) enough to own one of these amazing gemstones you want to keep it in good shape. To help you with that here are several tips:
- Pietersite should be protected from sharp temperature changes, touching a hot oven or stove could cause color changes.
- Physical labor should be avoided while wearing pietersite jewelry, it is fairly brittle and bumping into something or dropping it could cause fractures or chipping.
- Cleaning should be done by simply wiping it with a soft cloth, water can be used if really needed and perhaps a mild soap. Do not use any detergents, many of them contain chemicals that can react with pietersite.
Pietersite Buying Guide
Because pietersite is only found in two locations it is quite rare, especially because the mining in China was interrupted on several occasions due to flooding.
Regular pietersite used for decoration or a mineral collection shouldn’t be too hard to find, but most of that is not suited for use as a gemstone.
Synthetic pietersite does not exist, likely because it’s not well known, hard to recreate and fairly cheap. Imitations can usually be spotted fairly easily when dealing with high quality pietersite. However when dealing with regular pietersite, imitations are more difficult to detect.
Pietersite beads usually sell for under $4 per carat while the higher quality that can easily be used as the centerpiece of jewelry sells for $10-$20 per carat. It’s very unlikely your local jeweler has any in stock though he might be able to order some if you ask, just be sure you’re not committing yourself to a purchase.
Especially when you are buying it online where you are reliant on information and pictures the dealer himself provided. So only buy from dealers that have a good return policy and a high reputation.
The easiest way to obtain pietersite is online, the largest selection can be found on Ebay. Special care should be taken when you buy there as there are a number of dealers that should not be trusted. Look at their feedback, especially their negative feedback, and perhaps most importantly the prices they ask. If it’s far below market prices, it’s highly likely you will be defrauded.
Because pietersite is fairly brittle it’s probably best to stay away from pietersite rings and settle for a pietersite pendant or necklace. These are less likely to be damaged and the banding and swirls are more visible in larger size stones.
Pietersite earrings are an option, though the size of the gemstones that can be used in these is in my opinion too low to properly show the swirling bands in pietersite.
One problem with that is that while pietersite jewelry is available most of it seems to be focused on fairly common looking pietersite. So if you want a unique and amazing piece of jewelry you likely will need to get it custom made.
Either by buying a loose gemstone and getting it set by a designer or by simply ordering one made. You should be aware that this can be quite expensive, an experienced jewelry designer doesn’t come cheap.