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Despite sounding like any other quartz-like mineral on paper, lepidolite has a very unique color that can range from pink to purple, as well as a very appealing pearly luster, thanks to the flakes of lithium in it.
Lepidolite is affordable, easily available, and makes for great pieces of jewelry or ornamentation. It goes great with all kinds of metal bases as well as clothing. Plus, it’s quite highly valued by many people for the healing and calming properties that it’s believed to possess.
Regardless of why you’re looking for lepidolite jewelry, this is a gemstone that’s great to add to any jewelry collection. To help you learn more about it, here’s everything you need to know about lepidolite.
What is Lepidolite?
The lepidolite gemstone is lithium-rich aluminum-based mica, and is categorized as a mineral, not a stone. It’s one of the major sources of lithium, as well as of some of the rarest alkali metals on Earth such as rubidium and caesium. Lithium is the most important out of them, however, as it is very actively used for things such as rechargeable batteries, domestic appliances like toasters and microwave ovens, and even aircraft parts.
As a mica mineral, lepidolite is most commonly found in granite pegmatites and in some quartz veins or greisens of a high enough temperature. The largest sources of lepidolite in the world are countries such as Brazil, Canada (Manitoba, Bernic lake, Tanco mine, and others), Madagascar, Russia (the Ural Mountains), the U.S. (California), and a few others.
Aside from being a source of valuable metals, lepidolite is also valued as an ornamentation mineral or even a jewelry mineral. Some similar or associated minerals include amblygonite, beryl, cassiterite, columbite, feldspar, spodumene, topaz, tourmaline, and quartz. Visually, lepidolite is easy to distinguish from most of them, thanks to its signature pink-to-purple color range and beautiful, dreamy appearance.
Lepidolite in Jewelry
Like most other colored gemstones, lepidolite is mostly used in artisan jewelry for day-to-day pieces or in ornamentation. As a gemstone that’s typically cut into beads or cabochons, lepidolite can be used in more or less anything – in earrings, bracelets, necklaces, pendants, and rings.
Depending on its color, lepidolite can fit well with all kinds of metals, but because of its inexpensive nature, it’s rarely paired with expensive metals or gemstones.
Obviously, since it is a colored gemstone that’s almost never faceted, lepidolite isn’t used in high-value rings and jewelry such as engagement rings. However, in more artisan pieces, it’s often a great choice. It’s excellent for boho-styled or for crystal-healing jewelry.
As far as ornamentation is concerned, lepidolite has even more applications and can be crafted into figurines, picture frames, candle holders, and so on.
1. How to Choose Lepidolite Color
Lepidolite minerals are typically known for their gorgeous color which ranges from light pink to dark purple. They can also be colorless, grey, blue, or yellow, however, with those variations are less valued among jewelers and craftspeople.
However, the only reason why the pink-to-purple lepidolites are more sought-after is that they typically make for more beautiful pieces of jewelry or ornamentation. It’s more a matter of preference than value or availability.
2. Lepidolite And Clarity
Lepidolite has a vitreous to pearly luster. It can range between translucent to opaque varieties but sometimes can be transparent. These visual qualities make it an excellent ornamentation gemstone or a suitable choice for more artistic jewelry choices.
3. Lepidolite Cut
Lepidolite is almost never cut in facets, mainly because the hardness within the crystal often varies which makes it very tricky to facet the stone. Other factors to consider are that the cleavage of the lepidolite is often near perfect, which means faceting can result in the stone breaking along its cleavage lines. However, you’ll sometimes find faceted lepidolite, typically with long, open facets.
In general, lepidolite minerals are usually cut into cabochons or beads, as well as in various fancy shapes for ornamentation. They are also drilled, tumbled, or cut into spheres.
4. Lepidolite Carat Sizes
Lepidolite comes in varying sizes, but large sizes are still affordable. As with most other minerals, carat weight and size aren’t often talked about in relation to lepidolite. That’s because, like most other colored stones, lepidolite has a varying carat-to-size ratio.
This means that smaller pieces of lepidolite can sometimes have larger carat weight while other times larger lepidolite minerals can have a very light carat weight. That’s why it’s important to always choose colored stones based on their visual size and appearance rather than their carat weight.
Cleaning and Caring for Lepidolite Jewelry
Lepidolite minerals are quite soft, standing between 2.5 and 4 points on the Mohs scale. This is very soft like amber, jet, and pearl meaning that lepidolite can easily get scratched, damaged or even fractured.
Never store lepidolite with other jewelry, as they can scratch the stones. If you have to store lepidolite jewelry next to other gemstones and jewelry, wrap it in a piece of cloth for extra protection.
Take off any lepidolite jewelry when engaging in vigorous activity such as gardening, sport, and swimming as the stone could get damaged.
As for cleaning lepidolite jewelry, this mineral is very vulnerable to high temperatures and strong, toxic household chemicals. Chemicals such as bleach and sulphuric acid can drastically affect the color or overall composition of any lepidolite piece. Instead, cleaning this mineral with warm water and a mild soap is the best course of action. Never use harsh, abrasive materials to clean lepidolite but instead use a soft cloth or brush.
Enhanced or Imitation Lepidolite Gemstones
Lepidolite is not typically enhanced or treated in any way. It’s sometimes confused for muscovite, as it’s fairly similar in appearance. But the difference between the two is that lepidolite has a significantly lower relief. However, as the two are fairly similarly priced, neither is typically used as an imitation of the other by jewelers.
Lepidolite Meaning and Symbolism
Often referred to as the “grandmother stone” or the “peace stone”, lepidolite is revered for its calming and nurturing properties. As such, lepidolite is often recommended as a stone for those who are under stress, who suffer from chronic anxiety, or who are just with a typically nervous nature.
Lepidolite was first officially “discovered” and categorized in the 18th century. Back then it was initially called “lilalite” for its lavender color. Soon after, however, it was renamed lepidolite from the Greek word “leipidos”, meaning “scale” because of its scaly appearance caused by the flakes of lithium. That same lithium is another reason why lepidolite is thought to have a calming effect on nervous people – lithium is sometimes used in anti-anxiety medication.
Whether you believe that lepidolite can actually balance your chakras, remove blocks of negative emotions, and balance your soul, or you just like lepidolite’s appearance and feel happier with it in your surroundings, it’s definitely a great mineral to have around you.
*Disclaimer: Jewelry Shopping Guide does not guarantee or validate any of the claims related to the metaphysical and alternative healing powers of this or any other gemstone. This information should in no way be used as a substitute for medical advice.
Where to Buy Lepidolite
Lepidolite is easy to find at most retailers specializing in gemstones and crystals. In general, lepidolite jewelry ranges from a few dollars to a couple of hundred. We recommend searching on Etsy and Amazon for a range of lepidolite jewelry and loose crystals at competitive prices.