Kyanite: Blue Nepalese Beauty
Kyanite is a blue silicate mineral typically lined with gray and white which forms distinctive brittle crystals. Some kyanite pieces are light blue, while others are darker blue; most specimens exhibit a range of blue shades.
Typically the stone is translucent, but full of inclusions. This makes it glassy in some spots and cloudy in others. If there is a lot of white in a piece of kyanite, it may have a kind of “icy” appearance.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is Kyanite?
Kyanite is appreciated among mineral collectors because of its beautiful and unique appearance and properties.
Kyanite Properties and Color
One of the most noteworthy physical properties of kyanite is the shape in which it forms in nature. Kyanite usually forms long, thing, columnar crystals. These crystals have a very distinctive shape and texture, and collectors generally find them quite appealing. Because the columnar crystals are so recognizable, it is usually easy to identify kyanite on sight.
Another very noteworthy characteristic is the fact that it exhibits what is called “anisotropism.” This simply means that it has a different hardness depending on which angle you are measuring it from. Out of all minerals which exhibit this property, it is probably the best known. The vertical hardness of the stone measures between 4.5 to 5.5 on the Mohs scale, while the horizontal hardness comes in at 6 to 7.
If you possess a kyanite crystal, you must be quite careful with it. It is very brittle, and because of its structure, it flakes apart easily, rather like mica, which you may be more familiar with. It easily chips into fragments if you do not store it safely, especially during transport.
Kyanite is usually found in aluminum-rich metamorphic pegmatites, but is sometimes also found in sedimentary rock deposits. Owing to how kyanite is formed, its presence in metamorphic rock typically points toward pressures in excess of four kilobars. While it is stable in normal temperatures, above 1100 degrees Celsius, it breaks down.
Until recently, it was believed that kyanite always formed in shades of blue. But orange kyanite has now been discovered in Tanzania. The orange color is derived from trace amounts of manganese in the crystals. Kyanite’s name does reflect the more common blue color, and is derived from the Greek word kuanos, which translates to “deep blue.”
On occasion, kyanite may present chatoyancy, better known as the “cat’s eye effect,” more readily seen on cat’s eye and tiger’s eye gemstones. The reason this is not more common is because of the perfect cleavage and anisotropism of kyanite.
Kyanite does have some industrial uses, especially in ceramic products as well as refractory materials. There may be kyanite in your porcelain dishes or in your plumbing fixtures. You may also find it in abrasives, electronics, or insulators.
Outside of industry, kyanite is prized by collectors. Some people like to collect the gem in its raw form to put on display. Others prefer to wear kyanite as jewelry.
Kyanite is a favorite among metaphysical practitioners. The mystical associations surrounding kyanite have led to an increase in its global popularity.
Kyanite Buying Guide
When you are shopping for kyanite, you are unlikely to mistake it for another gemstone. It is extremely recognizable in its raw form. Polished or faceted, you can usually recognize it because of its inclusions. Kyanite has a luster to it which may be enhanced through a couple of different methods.
One method is to apply oil or synthetic lubricant to a specimen. Sellers are expected to disclose this treatment if they do it. A gem with a strong natural luster may be more valuable than a treated stone.
The other way that kyanite’s luster can be enhanced is actually through polishing. If you have a raw kyanite stone and a polishing cloth for jewelry, you can gently and diligently buff the stone with the cloth. This will wear down the hard and splintery edges of the stone, but it will smooth it out a bit, get rid of debris, and bring out a faint shine.
Whether you want to buy stones that have been polished in this manner or do it yourself is up to you. It is all a matter of aesthetic preference. Some people enjoy the luster. Others prefer to keep their stones true to the original crystal form.
Gemval.com gives these approximations for the value of high-quality polished and faceted kyanite gems:
- Light grayish blue: $63 per carat
- Medium light violet grayish blue: $86 per carat
- Medium to deep blue: $116 per carat
Tumbled and raw kyanite both sell for considerably less, especially if you are not too picky about their appearance. You can usually purchase a stone for just a few dollars. You can also find it wholesale for cheap. Blue kyanite is relatively common. Orange kyanite is rarer, but will still usually not cost you much more.
Kyanite jewelry is common in all three popular forms: faceted, tumbled and polished, and raw. Kyanite can be made into earrings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets, and more. Sometimes kyanite is worked into beads. Other times it is used as the focal element in a piece.
The fact that kyanite is popular for faceting is somewhat surprising in light of the fact that kyanite is typically highly included. Tumbling and polishing kyanite also tends to have imperfect results. Not only are the inclusions inside quite obvious, but there are often little inclusions on the surface as well. It is hard to get a totally smooth polish. Nevertheless, both tumbled and faceted kyanite can be very beautiful in a rustic way.
In fact, it is hard to beat raw crystals for rustic beauty. Raw kyanite usually form as long, thin crystals, which is why they can make an elegant and eclectic fashion statement in their unmodified form. Sometimes you will find raw crystals which have been sanded down slightly in order to bring out their sheen and reduce the number of raw edges and remove debris. Other times, the stones will be untouched.
Kyanite Engagement Rings
Kyanite is a surprisingly common choice for engagement rings. Not compared to diamonds of course, but you will find a lot of options if you are searching for one. Most kyanite engagement rings have small diamonds around a central faceted kyanite gemstone.
The dark blue stones are usually used, but medium and light blue kyanite is popular for engagement rings as well. Usually, kyanite is mounted in silver or white gold. These are both “cool” tone metals which complement the cool tones of kyanite blue nicely.
- Kyanite is a beautiful, unique gemstone. A kyanite engagement ring thus makes a striking and unexpected statement. It makes for a wonderful conversational piece.
- Because kyanite comes in a range of hues from light to dark, it is easy to select a ring which will be a good fit for your recipient’s preference.
- Deep blue kyanite offsets white diamonds mesmerizing, like night blue and a sea of stars.
- To many it is a mystical gemstone. For the right recipient, its special meaning may go beyond its physical beauty.
- Because kyanite is not a traditional choice for an engagement ring, for a lot of recipients, it will just not make an adequate choice. Many people prefer diamonds and nothing else, so always ask before deciding on an alternative.
- Kyanite can be highly included, so you will only get sparkling clarity from a very high quality kyanite engagement ring. To many people, kyanite will seem like a “flawed” choice for an engagement ring.
- Kyanite is not as expensive as diamond, which may also make it less than an ideal choice for making the right statement (unless you are already shopping on a budget).
- The cool blue tones of kyanite will not fit every skin tone.
- Kyanite is fragile, and breaks easily since it features perfect cleavage. This does not make it the most suitable choice for everyday wear.
How to Clean and Store Kyanite
- Cleaning kyanite is something you must do with extreme care. Use only water and mild soap. Never use harsh chemicals to clean kyanite, and never use an ultrasonic or steam cleaner. Wipe it very gently, rinse thoroughly, and then mop it carefully dry or leave it to air-dry.
- Storing kyanite with other jewelry is a bad idea, since it is way too easy for it to get scratched or to chip outright. Store it in its own soft pouch or box. I am talking from experience here. I’ve had raw kyanite crystals chip apart before because I made the mistake of storing them alongside other jewelry. All it takes is a couple of items knocking together, and you will find little chips or flakes of kyanite.
- Wearing kyanite, you also want to be really careful to avoid damage. One hard blow and your stone can split. Take it off if you are going to be doing anything active. Never wear kyanite rings while you are working with your hands.
For whatever reason, information about the history of kyanite is quite sparse and hard to locate. There is even some conflicting info in regards to the stone’s original discovery, and whether it was in Nepal or in Switzerland.
What is known is that despite its inclusions and the fact that most kyanite is unsuitable for faceting, it has been used as a substitute for sapphire many times over the past couple decades. As sapphire is typically more expensive, this is something to look out for if you are shopping for sapphire.
Kyanite is seen as a grounding gemstone which is particularly prized among practitioners of the metaphysical arts. It is associated with the throat chakra and self-expression because of its deep blue color, but it is considered to have a balancing effect on all of the chakras.
Interestingly enough, kyanite is also one of the few gemstones that do not need to be metaphysically cleansed on a regular basis to retain its clear energy. In fact, many practitioners keep it on hand to help them cleanse their other gemstones. This is why the gemstone is so highly sought after for metaphysical collections.
In general, kyanite is considered a soothing gemstone, one for easing tension and instilling tranquility. For balancing emotions and energies, there are few better crystals.
A stunning 3.03 carat blue kyanite gemstone. This stone shows why some kyanite can easily pass for sapphire to the untrained eye.
- Sapphire. Sapphire is much harder than kyanite, and it also tends to be much clearer. Kyanite’s inclusions are quite prominent. This hasn’t stopped jewelers from using kyanite as a substitute for sapphire, however. The two gemstones have such a similar deep blue tone that at a glance, they might occasionally be hard to tell apart. So if you are shopping for sapphire, make sure you are not sold a piece of less valuable kyanite at the same price.
The reason this list is so brief is because kyanite is so distinctive that you are unlikely to mistake a lot of other gemstones for it. Its inclusions, shape, texture, luster, and colors are unique.
This uniqueness together with its value to the mystical community has made it a favorite gemstone of collectors in recent years. While it has taken a long time for kyanite to get the attention it deserves, it is finally enjoying its time in the spotlight.