Gemstones

Zultanite: Turkish Color Changer

Zultanite is a color change gemstone that is similar to alexandrite. Zultanite is the trade name for a gem quality variety of diaspore.

Zultanite is an extremely rare gemstone and is quite expensive, especially the larger stones.

Table of Contents

What is Zultanite?

cushion cut zultanite gemstone incandescent lighting

Cushion cut zultanite under artificial lighting (incandescent) – Credit to xxBizxx – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Zultanite is a trade name for gem quality diaspore. The term was introduced by the owner of the only known deposit of zultanite.

It is also known under the name csarite, gem diaspore and Turkish diaspore. It is best known under the name zultanite so that is the name used in this guide.

Diaspore was discovered in 1801, but no gem quality material was found until the 1970s. From the 1970s to 2006 cut gemstones were mostly sold to collectors. In 2006 this changed, the only known deposit of zultanite was now being mined solely for gem production.

This deposit is located deep in the Anatolian mountains of Turkey. Zultanite is one of the few natural color-change gemstones in the world.

Under natural light it will display greenish colors, but under artificial light it will show pinkish to red colors. Under mixed light the colors will also be mixed.

In addition zultanite is pleochroic, this means that it will change color depending on the viewing angle.

Zultanite Properties

Zultanite has a fairly high hardness of 6.5 to 7, falling short of the other well-known color change gemstone alexandrite. It also has perfect cleavage, this means that it can more easily split when you are not careful while wearing it. Despite this it is suitable for jewelry, but you will have to be careful with it.

Zultanite usually has great clarity and crystals are usually eye clean.

A cat’s eye effect (chatoyancy) is sometimes visible in zultanite, though this is quite rare. Crystals that show this effect are usually cut into cabochons to maximize the effect.

Zultanite Color

The color of zultanite is hard to describe as it changes color under different light sources and when viewing from a different angle. Most zultanite however displays earthy hues that change from yellow-green or greenish colors in sunlight to pinkish-purple or reddish colors under artificial light.

Where alexandrite usually only displays two colors: greenish and purple or reddish, zultanite can display a far wider range of colors. During the day zultanite will slowly change color and different artificial light sources will produce slightly different hues. The viewing angle will also effect the color.

All in all, the color change effect of zultanite is one of a kind and can be breathtaking.

trillion, princess and oval cut zultanite gemstones

Trillion, princess and oval cut zultanite gemstones under ideal (mixed) lighting.

Zultanite Sources

Zultanite has only a single known source in Mugla, Turkey deep in the Anatolian Mountains. Diaspore crystals have been found in other countries, but so far no other gem quality deposit has been found.

Zultanite Birthstone

Zultanite is not a traditional or modern birthstone as it is simply too new to be included.

Zultanite Uses

The only use of zultanite is as a faceted gemstone or cabochon.

Zultanite Buying Guide

Turkish diaspore crystal

Stunning twinned Turkish diaspore crystal. Turkish diaspore is the official non-trademarked name of this gemstone – Credit to Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Zultanite is quite an expensive gemstone, especially if you are looking for a larger stone. Zultanite is not known to be enhanced, but there are still simulants on the market.

This makes it important to educate yourself before buying zultanite jewelry or loose zultanite for your gemstone collection.

Zultanite Value

The most important factors for the value of zultanite is its color change and the size of the stone. The stronger the color change the higher the value of the stone.

Zultanite is notoriously difficult to cut and the only producer claims the average yield of a crystal is only 2%. This makes large stones extremely rare and the prices reflect this.

Clarity is extremely important for a color change gemstone. Unlike most other gemstones virtually all zultanite on the market is at least eye clean. This is because the only producer of zultanite only markets eye clean stones.

So you do not have to pay much attention to clarity. You can use it however to spot stones that were not sold by the current producer. These are either older gemstones sold to collectors or diaspore from other localities that are not nearly as valuable.

Because of the small production of zultanite, its low yield and a fairly high demand the price per carat is quite high. High quality zultanite up to 1 carat that is eye clean and has an excellent cut will sell for roughly $200 per carat.

Larger stones are very rare and the prices reflect this. A 3 carat stone will sell for over $400 per carat, while a 10 carat stone will easily cost over $1,000 per carat (source: Gemval).

The price per carat of any stone over 30 carats will likely be far higher, as only a few of these exist. The current record holder is a 121.65 carat stone with an estimated retail value of $1 million, close to $10,000 per carat (source: Rapaport)!

Though zultanite is quite expensive it is much cheaper than alexandrite, the other famous color change gemstone. It is also far cheaper than high quality diamonds and far more rare at the same time.

Synthetic Zultanite and Simulants

diaspore crystal united states

A typical example of a diaspore crystal found outside of Turkey, the United States in this case – Credit to Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Synthetic zultanite does not exist as color-change gemstones are very difficult to synthesize.

Simulants on the other hand always exist for any expensive gemstone and zultanite is no exception.

The most common simulant is not really a simulant at all: diaspore. Zultanite is diaspore, just very high quality diaspore with a brand name.

To avoid paying zultanite prices for the lower quality diaspore you should only deal with an official seller. That way you are guaranteed to buy an eye clean stone with an excellent cut that will translate in beautiful colors and color change.

Any official retailer will provide an in-house certificate of the producer with your purchase. This is no substitute for a certificate from a reputable lab, but will suffice for smaller stones.

The other main simulant is color change glass. This glass was actually developed to mimic the color change of alexandrite, rather than zultanite. It can look quite convincing and unless you have experience with real zultanite you can be fooled by the color change it shows.

The easiest way to spot this color change glass is its vivid colors. The glass will be vivid green in daylight and a deep orange-red color under artificial light. The colors of zultanite are far softer than this (source: Zultgems)

Zultanite Enhancements

There are no known treatments performed on zultanite as the only producer only sells natural stones. Keep in mind though that this is no guarantee that a stone remains 100% natural when other people get involved.

Always insist on certification from an reputable lab when purchasing an expensive gemstone. An in-house certificate is no guarantee!

Zultanite Jewelry

While virtually all zultanite is used in jewelry it does not have the durability or toughness of diamonds or sapphires.

Its hardness is decent at 6.5 to 7, similar to amethyst for example, but it also has perfect cleavage. This means that zultanite is prone to chipping and can even split. This does require some force, but accidents happen.

If you are careful with your zultanite jewelry you should not have any problems. Still we advise you to opt for earrings or a pendant, rather than a ring. As the first two options better protect your stone.

Be careful when you buy a zultanite engagement ring. They are certainly beautiful, but engagement rings need to last a lifetime. Unfortunately it is not likely that your zultanite engagement ring will last that long without scratching or chipping.

If you have set your sights on a color change gemstone you should take a look at alexandrite. While more expensive it is also a lot more suitable for jewelry.

How to Clean and Store Zultanite

  • Cleaning zultanite has to be done carefully. Only use warm water, mild soap and a soft cloth (or a soft brush if needed). Do not use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner or a steam cleaner. We also advise against using jewelry cleaner or any harsh chemical cleaners.
  • Store zultanite in a soft pouch or padded jewelry box. Zultanite can be scratched by gemstones like sapphires and diamonds. While zultanite itself can scratch softer gemstones like lapis lazuli. If you own a large stone you should think about storing it in a safe.
  • Be careful with zultanite. It is fairly tough, but can still chip. Do not wear it during physical labor and make sure you do not bump into hard or sharp objects. It might be possible to get a scratch fixed, but getting a chip fixed could very well be impossible due to the difficulty of cutting zultanite. At best you will need to pay to get it re-cut and you would end up with a significantly smaller stone.

Zultanite Video

This video shows the beautiful colors and color change of zultanite under optimal lighting.

Similar Gemstones

There are no similar gemstones. The closest you can get is alexandrite or color change garnet. Both change from greenish to purple or reddish. The colors of these gemstones usually are more vivid and do not have the earthy tones of zultanite however.

Resources

  • Minerals.net – This site has more scientific information on zultanite.
  • Gemval – Here you can view the retail price of zultanite for various sizes and clarity.
  • Zultanite.com – The official site of the trademarked zultanite gemstone. Note: they have a vested interest in selling this gemstone. Be sure to do your due diligence before any purchase.

Gem Coach

22 Comments

  1. Melanie
    December 15, 2012 at 4:34 pm — Reply

    Such an unusual gemstone, the colours look amazing, especially in the uncut stone.

    • Tim Carr
      December 31, 2012 at 12:24 am — Reply

      I agree it looks amazing. I’d love to get a rough crystal for my collection, but I have no clue where I can buy it. All I’m seeing is cut gemstones and I’m not interested in those. I wish they’d find it in more locations, because it seems the current mine owners are not interested in selling zultanite to mineral collectors. I know there’s more money to be made from selling cut gemstones, but there’s bound to be some crystals that look good, yet impossible to get a good cut from right?

      If anyone could point me in the right direction I’d really appreciate it.

      Thank you,

      Tim Carr

      • Jeff
        February 13, 2013 at 9:27 pm — Reply

        I figure that your closest thing to a gem quality rough would be diaspore. They posses similar qualities but they are not gem grade.

        • Tim Carr
          February 19, 2013 at 1:02 am — Reply

          Thank you for your response.

          Unfortunately I already own a piece of diaspore, but it looks fairly bland. I think my only hope at this point for a truly spectacular diaspore or zultanite crystal is when they discover a new deposit somewhere else.

      • karen
        April 4, 2014 at 4:43 am — Reply

        there is quite a bit on ebay

      • Anonymous
        April 7, 2014 at 1:48 pm — Reply

        Hello, I have found a deposit of this stone in a limestone quarry, we removed all we could find in this pocket. I kept the stones in a turtle shell not knowing what they were until I say a show on tv and I think these are zultanite or the lower value type. They are mostly white to yellow, and are 1-3 cm in size. The color shift stone are bigger, maybe only a dozen of these from brown to white gradations, with box-like matrix. No idea there value, I thought they mite be pre-diamonds or something, reply if interested

  2. Tim Jokela
    March 5, 2013 at 1:17 am — Reply

    FRAUD ALERT!

    “zultanite” is a made-up name for the mineral diaspore, so when you read nonsense like the following, beware!!:

    “Important!: Make sure you are buying zultanite and not diaspore. While diaspore does display the color change it is not a gem quality mineral. Loose diaspore should be selling for around $50 per carat. While zultanite is often selling for between $500 and $1000 per carat!”

    • March 5, 2013 at 10:16 am — Reply

      Using words like “Fraud Alert” and “nonsense” is uncalled for. While yes, the name zultanite is a marketing ploy to set it apart from diaspore, this can hardly be called fraud. Fact is that the diaspore deposits found in Turkey simply are of a (far) higher quality than any deposits found before that. Would you call tanzanite nonsense or fraud as well, because it was officially called blue zoisite?

      Still, we see that the quoted text above isn’t worded too well, so we’ve made a slight edit to better get our point across.

      In other news, the word zultanite may be falling in disuse before long, as zultanite is trademarked and the mine has had a falling out with the trademark owners. So, now they have taken to calling it Turkish diaspore, czarite or perhaps more to your liking: gem diaspore.

  3. Sandeep
    April 17, 2013 at 10:58 am — Reply

    Wow what a great stone. I am collecting various gemstone now for five years and have never seen such a royal, glamourous stone.
    While we all know this is diaspore, Zultanite is truely a natural gem and really rare as the other diaspore was available in URAL mines in 1800s. Zultanite has really put a great spell on me.

    Tanzanite is 100 times rarer than diamond and now we have Zultanite which is 100 times rarer than Tanzanite. My personal collection includes not only regular stone of Diamond, Sapphires, Rubies, Emerald but newly discovered 21st century great stones like Tanzanite, Tsavorite, Zultanite, Kyanite. All of them are good for investment as they are marketed at 200 – 350 $ a carat and will double in five years. Bigger stones and greater cut demands a premium of 25 %.

    Good Luck

    Sandeep
    Mumbai
    India

    • Martin
      March 21, 2014 at 11:48 am — Reply

      Sandeep,

      My BHP shares are also beautiful and will double in 5 years. (Doesn’t that sound right?)

      Gemstones are commodity items, and their value is dictated by demand and supply as with all commodities. The best stones will always command a premium however. Buy gemstones because you love them, not to get rich.

  4. Reba Johnson
    August 3, 2013 at 11:53 am — Reply

    I purchased a 4.5 carat stone about 5 years ago. paid $300. appraised for $2500. can not find a deal like that again.

  5. Eyy?p canpolat
    September 14, 2013 at 4:29 pm — Reply

    Zultanite per carat 300$&10.000$

    • September 14, 2013 at 5:25 pm — Reply

      The prices have indeed gone slightly down. A high quality 1-carat zultanite stone can now be bought for around $300 per carat. The $10,000 figure is based on an exceptional 40+ carat stone and is not the norm for zultanite.

  6. Eyy?p canpolat
    September 14, 2013 at 5:41 pm — Reply

    Labtrade gemological laboratory 10carat zultanite 22650$

    http://www.lancefischer.com/collection/anatolia/ zultanite 525.000$

    http://zultanite.org/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=67&products_id=328
    25.90carat zultanite 150.000$ per carat 5.791$

    • September 14, 2013 at 7:45 pm — Reply

      All those prices are for large zultanite stones of exceptional quality. We base our prices on a high quality 1-carat stone to make comparison with other gemstones possible.

      Like any gemstone the price per carat of zultanite rapidly increases when dealing with larger stones. We have edited the article to make this more clear.

  7. reena
    September 17, 2013 at 9:54 am — Reply

    how to tell the difference of imitation zultanite with real zultanite

  8. Tara J
    September 29, 2013 at 8:07 am — Reply

    I currently have a large lot of diaspore that was given to me all measuring 1.5″ and larger. They are rough stone and would like to know if there is anywhere I could find a buyer for these stones..Thank you

    • September 30, 2013 at 6:40 pm — Reply

      You can try selling it on eBay, though the competition there is quite fierce (and often unfair, see this article: http://www.gemcoach.com/stay-away-from-ebay/). Another option is to contact a local rock-hounding or mineralogy club and arrange a meeting. Even if they are not interested in buying themselves, they’ll often know someone who is.

  9. Robin Alex
    October 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm — Reply

    Hello,

    I recently purchased a 6.2 carat zultinite/disapore stone while in turkey that they set into a ring. I have the certificate’s, etc. and would like to sell my gem. There are inclusions in the stone and it is very large. I paid $3800.00. Where can I sell this?

  10. Jo
    December 10, 2013 at 11:46 pm — Reply

    I would suggest hiring & paying an independent US Gem Lab to do an appraisal and run all the testes giving you the current market (retail) value of the gem. Usually costs around $50 + or – a few dollars for the appraisal, authentication, appraisal & s&h with s&h insurance both ways. They will want payment up front and they will return your gem with a report which should include at least 3 photos of your gem because it has a color change, a detailed description including descriptions of any inclusions it may have, they are like the thumbprint of the gem and no 2 gems are alike. Also the report should contain the usual, ie..ct weight, measurements, colors & color shift strength and color shift colors and hopefully more than 1 photo showing the color changes. It could take up to a few months for your gem and reports to get back to you.

    Research your gem lab, make sure you can contact them by phone and check out their reputation before doing business with them, last thing you want is to never see your gem again. Also when requesting the Gemological evaluation and appraisal make sure you get a contact name.and ask how much they think you should insure it for along with shipping fees to make sure you get some compensation should your gem get lost or damaged in transit.

    After you have the gem, appraisal, & gem report you can try directly contacting jewelry stores and ask if you can have their jewelery designers contact you if they are interested in your rare stone. You can try and sell it to some of the jewelry gem tv shows that sell loose gems and antique and estate jewelry, you can try on on ebay also though it does not possess the amount of trust it used to have in gem/jewelry sellers, there is also amazon and ETSY. The best way to make as much as possible from the sale of your gem is by having certified documentation of its value, specs and a good overall description of its condition and which tests were performed on the gem done by a reputable gem lab, collectors know the reliable labs! These documents will guarantee you at least reasonable offers.

    If your appraisal co. is local you may want to list it on Craigs list, meet at the facility to discuss offers, be careful if you can’t meet at the appraisal co. , meet in a public place, be safe, I don;t really recommend Craigs list for certain items but many people look for rarities there, never invite them to your home !. Many people really don’t appreciate rare gems for their true value and rarity, but there are some out there , some even addicted to collecting only rare gems! Best of luck to you,Jo:) . Best of luck to you!

  11. Wrightee
    January 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm — Reply

    I have around 40/50 Zultanite stones various sizes and cuts up to 6cts. what do you suggest I do with them?

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