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Given how visually stunning, affordable and . Of course, the main reason for that is the gemstone’s rarity but still – with its beautiful violate or purple colors, gorgeous swirling patterns, and captivating chatoyancy, charoite is definitely a gemstone that more people need to be aware of.
What is Charoite?
Technically categorized as a rock, pure charoite is a rare silicate mineral. In terms of its density and reflective index, charoite is very similar to quartz while its hardness is close to that of lapis lazuli or turquoise.
Charoite is has high purity, and is generally almost completely pure – it has only trace inclusions of aergirine, tinaksite and microline feldspar but this is rare.
Because it’s such a distinct gemstone, it’s hard to mistake charoite with other minerals. It’s unique violate to purple color and twisting patterns makes it stand apart and is easily recognizable.
One of the few gemstones that can sometimes look like charoite is sugilite (more on this below).
So, why haven’t most people heard of charoite before?
The main reason is that this gemstone is both new and rare, which is why it’s not well-known. Charoite was first discovered in Siberia in 1940. It’s named after the Chara River and to this day the Murun mining complex by the river in the Sakha Republic is the only source of charoite worldwide. The gemstone was introduced to the commercial market 38 years later, in 1978.
Here’s an interesting fact about charoite:
Natural charoite forms from limestone deposits that get transformed by heat, pressure, and the infusion of certain unique chemicals such as the alkali-rich nephline syenite. The interesting thing here is that this process – known as “contact metamorphism” – is actually quite a common geological phenomenon. So, why charoite is geographically restricted just to that small area in Siberia is baffling for a lot of geologists.
Whatever the cause, the important thing for us is that charoite is both extremely beautiful and very rare. So, if you are looking for an interesting, unique, and gorgeous gemstone for a piece of jewelry or ornamentation, charoite is often a great choice.
Plus, despite its beauty and rarity, untreated gem quality charoite is still relatively modestly priced.
How to Evaluate Charoite Quality
Color and chatoyancy are the two main driving forces behind the value and quality of charoite. Whether it comes in stunning bright lavender, a soft lilac or a deep purple, charoite makes for a unique and beautiful gemstone to look at. And, unlike a lot of other minerals, the main coloring agent of charoite – purple – is actually due to the charoite itself and not to its inclusions.
Where the inclusions come in is in the swirly patterns of this mineral. They are usually white or grey but they can also be various streaks of green, black or orange, depending on whether there are tinaksite or aegerine impurities.
And where, with a lot of other gemstones, such inclusions can be seen as negatives, in charoite they are what actually makes the mineral even more beautiful and valuable.
Even more than that, however, the most desirable trait of charoite is its chatoyancy.
Often called “the cat’s eye effect” chatoyancy is a recognizable visual effect that can occur in many gemstones and it is distinctive for how much it resembles a cat’s eye. It’s caused by the reflection of light by various natural fibers, channels, and needles inside the stone. These too are due to the various fibrous and fine-grained parallel inclusions in the charoite gemstone.
Chatoyancy is most sought after in translucent charoite stones which are a bit rarer than the more common opaque gemstones. A lightly colored, translucent charoite with a pearly luster and a strong chatoyancy effect is the most highly valued charoite stone you can get.
Charoite Jewelry – Add a Burst of Color
With physical and visual properties like these, charoite can easily find a place in a lot of different types of jewelry. However, because it has a relatively low hardness of 4.5 to 5 on the Mohs scale, charoite isn’t very suitable for jewelry that’s to be worn on a daily basis.
Instead, charoite cabochons, ovals, hearts, pears, or other interesting cuts can be used in rings, earrings, and necklaces that are reserved for special occasions. Even more prominently, charoite is used for ornamental gemstone carvings, solitary ovals, and various figurines. It also makes for excellent inlay material, especially in wedding bands.
When placed on jewelry, charoite stones usually go best with silver, black or white metals and materials. Yellow gold makes for a vintage looking piece.
While most jewelry made with this gemstone is usually quite inexpensive – in the 3-digit or even the 2-digit price range, when paired with high quality materials and other gemstones, charoite jewelry can fetch high prices. For example, take a look at this pair of charoite and diamond earrings which pretty expensive!
Whatever the desired purpose charoite can make for a gorgeous and rare centerpiece on any type of jewelry but it needs to be carefully protected from wear and tear.
Charoite goes well with any style of jewelry, from bohemian and hippie styles to classic and sophisticated jewelry. It all depends on the jewelry setting.
Charoite and Sugilite – What’s The Difference?
Both charoite and sugilite have a similar violate to purple color scheme. However, sugilite lacks the distinctive twisting patterns that are present in must charoite gemstones.
Sugilite also doesn’t have the slight to moderate chatoyancy that’s common in a lot of charoite stones.
So, while charoite stones can sometimes be mistaken for sugilite if they lack any distinctive chatoyancy or colorful swirly patterns, in general, you shouldn’t have trouble differentiating between the two gemstone types.
Sugilite is also generally priced higher than charoite but this depends on the quality of the gemstone and the jewelry setting.
How To Care For Charoite
The main factors that make charoite tricky to take care for is its moderately soft nature. At 4.5 to 5 on the Mohs scale, charoite is quite easily scratched and accidentally damaged whether while wearing it or while in storage with other pieces of jewelry.
With that in mind, charoite is usually not recommended for jewelry that you intend to wear on a daily basis. Also, it’s best stored separately from other pieces of jewelry or wrapped in a piece of cloth if placed together with other gemstones.
As far as cleaning is concerned, charoite is best cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft piece of cloth. Never use strong and toxic detergents on it and never try to scrub it with a coarse sponge, brushes or anything similar.
Also, keep in mind the metal or other jewelry material as well as they can sometimes be even more delicate than the charoite itself.
Charoite Meaning And Symbolism
Although charoite is a new gemstone, it’s already been noted for its symbolism and meaning. The beautiful purple or violate color of charoite, as well as its twisting and turning patterns, have quickly made it famous as one of nature’s most beautiful dream stones and illuminators.
Charoite is believed to allow its wearer to learn from past lives as well as to look for spiritual guidance in the future. It’s also said to embody the unique synthesis between the Crown and the Heart Chakras.
Charoite is thought to be a stone that can help you to focus on the present, and to remove negativity, emotional baggage or thoughts that keep you trapped in the past.
It helps you to overcome obsessive behaviors and to appreciate the beauty of the now.
*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 Charoite Jewelry
Charoite is difficult to find and chances are, you won’t see it at your local jewelry store. Searching for charoite jewelry online is your best bet as you’ll be able to access options from around the world.
We recommend searching on Etsy or Amazon for unique, handmade, artisan charoite jewelry at a range of prices and styles.