Variscite is a fairly rare aluminum phosphate mineral that is often found in slabs and nodules. It has a similar look to turquoise, though variscite comes in shades of green, including apple, emerald, and teal. Sometimes, a single nodule of variscite contains several shades of green. Rare specimens are yellow, pink, red, orange or purple. Slab forms contain interesting veins of other minerals.
The mineral gets its name for the German region of Variscia, now Vogtland and is also called Utahlite after the nodules found in the state of Utah. This article will examine the history of variscite as well as its properties and uses.
History of Variscite
Variscite was “discovered” in 1837. A mine that was famous for its abundance of the mineral used to be found in the Oquirrh Mountains in Utah. It was actually called the Little Green Monster Variscite Mine because of the singular look of the nodules found there. The nodules from this mine always had a covering of a yellow mineral called Crandallite, with Crandallite veins among the green matrix. Quality half-nodules and slices of this variscite often cost more $1000 or more back in the 1940s.
Properties of Variscite
The mineral is a member of a group that includes Strengite, Scorodite, Mansfieldite and Yanomamite. It is a form of metavariscite, a mineral named in 1927 for its connection to variscite.
Variscite is formed when waters rich in phosphates infiltrate aluminum-rich rock. These types of rocks are usually feldspar-rich igneous rocks that have been formed in volcanoes, but variscite is also found in sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.
The chemical formula is AlPO4 · 2(H2O), with a variable formula of (Al,Fe)PO4 · 2(H2O). It leaves a white line when scraping it over a streak plate. It is somewhat hard, with its Mohs scale rating between 3.5 and 4.5. Variscite is an orthorhombic mineral, which means that the faces of the crystal have three unequally, mutually perpendicular axes.
Shape and color
Besides slabs and nodules, the mineral is found in small grains or crusts as balls, bubbles and in veins. It can also be kidney shaped, shaped like stalactites or massive. Masses that were over 3 feet in diameter were found in Utah. It’s very unusual to actually see the crystals of variscite. If they’re seen, they’re often found in the ball form.
Variscite is usually translucent or opaque, and transparent specimens are rare. It has a specific gravity of 2.5 to 2.6 and has a glassy or waxy luster. It is a light, brittle mineral. Some geologists claim that variscite has no cleavage, while others rate it as good to poor. Cleavage is the splitting of a mineral along certain planes that are determined by the structure of the crystal. When variscite does break, the pieces have a shell-like look, and the surfaces are very smooth but splintery. Heat causes discoloration, and it’s soluble in alkaline and hydrochloric acid only if it has been heated beforehand.
Variscite’s refractive index is 1.560 to 1.594. The refractive index, or RI, is the ratio of the velocity of light in a vacuum to the velocity of light inside the mineral. The birefringence is 0.031. Birefringence is when a beam of light is split and the two beams travel through the mineral at different speeds. The color of the mineral is the same no matter the angle we view it from, which means it lacks pleochroism.
Variscite has the ability to change into other types of phosphate minerals. This is seen most often in nodules.
The mineral is inert or has a green glow when it is seen under short-wave ultraviolet light, and inert to whitish green when it is seen under long-wave ultraviolet light.
Metaphysical Details About Variscite
Variscite is not an official birthstone, but one can wear it as a birthstone for Gemini, Taurus, and Scorpio.
Mental healing power
Variscite is a stone that encourages and brings hope. Mystics believe it is especially useful for people who are ill or disabled and supports their efforts to persevere. It helps caregivers to cope with the stresses of caring for people who are unwell. It opens the heart chakra and allows unconditional love to enter a difficult situation.
Variscite is helpful for people who wish to explore their past lives. It helps them envision their past experiences and enter into the emotions of these past lives. The mineral gives patients insight into the origins of their disease and the patterns that have followed them through from one life to the next. It helps them reassess these past situations in order to aid in the healing of their current disease.
The stone pulls people out of despondency and helps them to hope and trust. It banishes pretense, eases nervousness and brings peace, even as it prevents a person from becoming too serious. If a piece of variscite is placed under the pillow at night, it brings peaceful sleep and soothes a troubled mind.
Variscite is an aid to clear thought. It sharpens perceptions and helps the wearer communicate their ideas clearly. Since it brings a lively type of energy, it helps restore energy reserves that have been depleted.
Physical healing properties
The mineral heals the nervous system, treats abdominal bloating and helps with the circulation of blood. It restores suppleness to the veins and the skin. Because it balances the pH of the body and removes hyperacidity, it helps with ulcers, types of arthritis, gastritis, impotence and cramps.
To use it, place the gem over the problem area or place it over the third eye to help with recalling past lives. One can wear it as a pendant or hold it in the left hand.
Jewelry Containing Variscite
Though there aren’t famous pieces of jewelry that feature variscite, jewelry makers can polish it into a cabochon or turn it into beads for necklaces and bracelets. One buys the gemstone according to its size and not by carats, as are diamonds. It is a fragile gemstone and you should handle it carefully and clean it with plain soap and water and not harsh chemicals.
Where to Find VarisciteToday
Today, the best quality gems are still available in Utah. Other good quality stones locations include Arkansas, Poland, Spain, and Brazil. Some good specimens are also obtainable in Saxony, Germany.
Both collectors who display nodules and slabs and wearers of fine jewelry value this beautiful if sometimes alien-looking mineral with its different shades of green. One can buy examples of variscite on-line today.