Phenakite

Phenakite rough and cut: A 5-carat faceted phenakite with a 94-carat etched natural crystal, both from Nigeria

Overview

Phenakite is a very rare silicate gemstone.  While it can be colored a pale blue or yellow/sherry color when it comes out of the ground, the color almost always disappears when its exposed to light.  It is very similar in appearance to quartz, which is how it got its name from the Greek word “phenakos,” which means “deceiver.”  However, as the name implies, appearances are deceptive.  Phenakite is harder than quartz and at 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale–nearly as hard as topaz.  It also has a higher refractive index at 1.650-1.695.  This makes it both more durable and more brilliant.  To many the appearance of a finely faceted phenakite is reminiscent of diamond, but it lacks the high dispersion of diamond so the brilliance has a “colder” look to it.  Because of its rarity, phenakite remains a collector’s gemstone.

Named Species/Varieties

There are no named varieties or species of phenakite.

Where is it found

Phenakite is found in gem quality in very few locations in the world.  It’s found in granite pegmatites.  Russia, Burma and Brazil have been sources of gem phenakite.  More recently deposits have been found in Madagascar, and in 2008 a significant deposit of beautifully etched and unusually large phenakite crystals was found in Nigeria.  These Nigerian stones have been given the name “Okuta-Didan” which is the Yoruba term for “shining stone,” a logical name given the brilliance of the Nigerian gems.  Production has been intermittent since then, and the mineral collector market has purchased many of the crystals due to their stunning etching patterns.

Treatments

Phenakite is not subjected to any treatments.

Use in jewelry

Phenakite makes an excellent choice for jewelry due to its hardness and toughness and excellent brilliance.  It makes a unique replacement for a diamond in ring and its relative affordability means that it can be .

Buy Phenakite

You can look at my current inventory of loose gemstones online here: http://www.earthstreasury.com/product-category/gemstones/phenakite/

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