Zoisite is a hydroxide calcium aluminum silicate that has only recently begun to gain recognition in the gemstone industry. Unlike many gemstones, Zoisite is now considered a gem family rather than a specific gem type. It is also known as an ornamental stone. These stones have much minute detail, texture and tonal value gradations making them appear like a work of art.
As a matter of fact, these stones are also made into paints that produce an interesting variety of colors that are granular. There are three members that make up the family: Anyolite, Thulite and Tanzanite. The most valuable is Tanzanite because of its sapphire-blue, translucent color. Following are some other interesting facts about this stone’s properties, occurrences and metaphysical facts.
General Information About Zoisite
Zoisite was originally found in the Sau-Alp mountains in Austria in 1805 by mineral dealer Simon Preŝern. The stone was called saualpite after the locality of its discovery. After bringing a sample to Baron Sigmund von Zois, a Solvenian mineralogist, it was renamed Zoisite in his honor. The stone, dubbed Tanzanite, remained relatively unknown in the gemstone trade until 1967 when a new variety was found in Tanzania. It has quickly become one of the most popular gemstones of our time. Tanzanite is still only found in Tanzania. The one unique feature of Tanzanite is that it must be heat treated in order to achieve the blue color. The other varieties are naturally colored and not enhanced.
The variety of Zoisite called Thulite, which is pink in color, was discovered in Norway in 1820. It was named after Thule, which was a mythical island near England now thought to be Norway. It’s frequently cut for beads and ornamental pieces on sculptures. The third variety, Anyolite, was also discovered in Tanzania but in 1954. It’s a composite of green zoisite, black hornblende and ruby. Due to it’s unique coloring, its name came from the Masai word for green which is Anyoli. Due to the low quality of the ruby Anyolite contains, extracting it is not attempted.
Properties of Zoisite
Alternative Names: The Ruby Zoisite is sometimes called Anyolite;
Varieties: Tanzanite (transparent blue to purplish-blue variety), Thulite (the pink to red variety), Ruby Zoisite (the red variety) and Green Zoisite;
Classification: A member of the epidote group of minerals;
Specific Gravity: 3.10-3.38;
Color: blue, green, brown, pink, red, purple, purplish-blue;
Transparency: opaque, sometimes translucent in thin back-lit sections or transparent;
Cleavage: 1.1 (perfect in one diection);
Habit: Prismatic crystals with striations that is massive to columnar;
Crystal System: Orthorhombic.
Zoisite is found in medium-grade metamorphosed crystalline schists which form in hydrothermal veins. These are formed through the alteration of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks that have a relatively high calcium content.
As with most gemstones, however, the predominant mineral determines the color. For example, a high magnesium content will make a gemstone more red. Additionally, deposits are often found among other types of stones such as garnets, vesuvianite and actinolite. When found in crystal form rather than masses, Zoisite has an extremely high refractive index.
Metaphysical Details About Zoisite
Zoisite is associated with the heart chakra as well as the root and sacral chakras. It’s packed with metaphysical benefits for the mind, body and spirit. It represents discovery and joy and contains the power to guide you toward self-discovery. It is believed to help you become aware of the strengths you had as a child so you can build on those as you age. By transferring negative energy into positive energy, it helps you manifest your individuality rather than just making you part of the norm yet allows you to maintain connectivity with the group. It also helps turn destructive urges into constructive ones which allows you to realize your dreams.
This gemstone can dispel lethargy, promote recovery from severe illnesses, reduce stress, stimulate fertility, heal diseases and detoxify the body. It also regenerates cells, strengthens the immune system and treats problems with the heart, pancreas, spleen and lungs. Mystically, lore reveals that the gemstone would bring and enhance trust between the wearer, the universe and the ultimate goodness of life. As a result, it was believed that fear would be released and happiness in life would be deepened.
How to Wear It
Zoisite is one of the slower working stones so wearing it for extended periods of time will yield the best results. It is fairly brittle so should be carefully worn so it doesn’t chip. While it’s on, you should also avoid scratching it or having it come into contact with sharp blows that could cause fractures. If you plan to wear it a lot you might consider the green variety which is harder because it doesn’t have to be heated to bring out its color.
Zoisite should also never be cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner as the vibration could damage the stone. Additionally, keep the gemstone away from anything that has an acidic content.
Where Can We Find Zoisite Today?
As mentioned previously, the Tanzanite variety of Zoisite can only be found in Tanzania whereas the other varieties are more widespread. Thulite, for example, is found in Austria, Italy, Norway, Western Australia and the USA. All other forms, however, are mined in New Hampshire, Northern Pakistan, Sweden and South Africa.
When it comes to gemstone quality, Tanzanite’s smaller sizes can often appear “too pale” while larger sizes have a depth of color that has to be seen to be believed. The rich, blue-purple Tanzanite can often bring several hundred dollars per carat but can be over $2000 per carat for those collected at the ‘D-block’ mines in Tanzania. The other forms of Zoisite are extremely reasonable in price.
Although first discovered in the 1800’s, Zoisite has only recently been accepted as a gemstone in the jewelry trade. One of the most interesting features is that the varieties that are transparent are pleochroic which means they may look blue, red, green or one of its other colors depending on the direction in which they are viewed.
Whether seeking one of these stones for personal use as jewelry, a piece to enhance your collection, to accent a piece of sculpture or for it’s metaphysical properties, now is a perfect time to explore this gem.