the igr blog

Welcome to the IGR blog where we share behind the scenes info, news, history and more



Can you already feel love in the air? It's February knocking on our door, the most romantic time of the year. To celebrate the month of Valentines’ Day, IGR Lab shares our love for Kunzite, also known as lovers’ stone.


Kunzite is a fairly "new gem", found in 1902 by George Frederick Kunz in the USA. Kunzite is a light pink to purple variety of the mineral Spodumene. It has a monoclinic crystal structure and its crystals display a blade like shape. Nowadays it can be found in several locations around the world, such as Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, and the US state of California.


The seductive purple hues are caused by the manganese impurities. Kunzite's colour can be enhanced by irradiation followed by heating. However, natural or treated, the delicate stone should be treated with care and the exposure to intense light or heat should be avoided, as it might cause the colours to fade. One of the special characteristics is that this lovers stone is pleochroic, meaning it can display different colors along different crystal directions. Kunzite's most intense colours are more visible when viewed down the length of its crystal. Cutters occasionally use this special feature by cutting the stone deep to emphasise kunzite's magical colours.


On the Mohs scale of hardness Kunzite is ranked as 6.5 to 7 and has two perfect cleavage directions. It has a vitreous lustre and mostly very transparent. Kunzite is loupe clean, however on rare occasions there are some specimen with needle like inclusions and fractures.



Figure 2. The cutter made creative use of the needle-like inclusions by making them into a design element. -Orasa Weldon



The "new" gem can be found in fairly large sizes. The largest Kunzite ever found weights 880carats discovered in Brazil and made to the Heart Shape. Nowadays it rests in Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History.  The largest rough crystal is the "Big Kahuna" kunzite crystal from Pala, California weighs around 2.2 kg.


Figure 3. The biggest rough Kunzite, also known as "Big Kahuna".



















Figure 4. This 880-ct. Brazilian kunzite heart resides in the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. - Chip Clark, courtesy NMNH


The pink stone was favored by many and is a perfect gift for your better half. A beautiful 47-carat Kunzite ring was sold for over $410,000 at a Sotheby's auction of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in 1996. President Kennedy purchased it as a gift for his wife, but sadly never had the chance to give it to her.


















Figure 5.This 396.30-carat kunzite gem from Afghanistan adorns the necklace that Paloma Picasso designed in 1986 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Tiffany & Co. Image credits to Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution


The mesmerising colours of Kunzite will not leave anyone indifferent. It is considered as a secondary birthstone for February and could be a perfect way to declare your love on St Valentines’ day.


Zhanna @ IGR