Kunzite is a relatively new gemstone, having a history of just over a century among gemologists.
The gemstone was discovered in 1902 near San Diego in California and was named after Frederick Kunz, a noted gemstone specialist and jeweler. It was Kunz who first described this delicately shaded find.
The gem itself usually possesses a delicate pink hue with shadings toward violet and sometimes green. It can also appear, from some angles, to be colorless. The gem can sometimes have a stronger, more intense coloration. These more intensely colored gems have a correspondingly higher value due to their rarity.
The gem changes color depending on the angle from which it is viewed, a quality known as pleochroism, or 'multi-coloredness'. The best angle for viewing is from directly above, revealing its most striking hues. It is recommended that kunzite not be worn in strong sunlight or exposed to excessive heat as fading can occur.
The gem is fairly hard, measuring 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. It presents a challenge to cutters, requiring precise alignment of the prism-shaped crystals. While possessing hardness, the gem is subject to chipping if struck sharply.
Some crystals are quite large, the record being held by a find near the Black Hills, South Dakota measuring 42' long X 5' wide.
Kunzite is primarily found in the US, Afghanistan, Brazil, and Madagascar.
Kunzite is the most recent addition to the spodumen family. Other members of this group include hiddenite, diopside, triphane, and jadeite. Two other minerals also are included in the spodumen family.