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The intrigue and attractiveness of sugilite stems from its dynamic range of color, texture, composition, and patterns. Sugilite can be categorized into various quality grades on the basis of color ( hue and saturation), texture ( uniformity or zonation of color, presence of veining, banding, or fractures), hardness, translucency, and size ( thickness of sugilite layers).
Today sugilite can be acquired as gem rough, gem material suited for inlay, finished individual cabochon stones or faceted center stones for fine jewelry. Sugilite offers a beautiful continuum of reddish pink to purple coloration, from vibrant Fuchsia pink to delicate lavender, to deep royal purple and in an array of opacities from highly translucent to fully opaque.
In 1979, the discovery of sugilite in a massive deposit of manganese ore at the Wessels mine near Kuruman, South Africa, in the Kalahari Desert, produced the first significant amount of this new gem material. In a separate reported finding in India, sugilite appeared only as tiny pink crystals within manganese ore. It wasn’t until the Wessels mines’s discovery in South Africa, that a significant amount of commercially viable sugilite became available to the jewelry trade. This “new” manganoan sugilite material, generally seen shades of purple, was strikingly different than its representative samples in Japan.
After ore production out of the Wessels mine in South Africa became available to the marketplace, sugilite began to acquire trade names, as it was bought and sold in large quantities by dealers in the gemstone industry, among these names are Royal Lavulite and Royal Azel.
Originally discovered on Iwagi Islet, Ehime Prefecture in Southwest Japan and described by Professor Nobuhide Murakami from Yamaguchi University in 1974. Sugilite was named in honor of Ken-ichi Sugi, geology professor and mentor to Murikami, due to the field discovery of Sugilite in 1946 by Kenichi Sugi, and then decades later to be laboratory identified by Murikami.
Sugilite is a polycrystalline gem material ideally suited for use in all forms of jewelry. The finest qualities of sugilite are color stable to both light and heat in normal wearing conditions. Sugilite is generally tough and resistant to fracturing.
The gemological properties of Sugilite allow it to be polished to a high shine and in certain higher grades be faceted like many other sought after precious gemstones. It has a hardness of 6-61/2, producing a high lustre, a quality that makes sugilite a versatile and desired gemstone.
Whatever your sugilite color preference you can find the right piece of sugilite to meet your gemstone fancy. In Japanese culture and others sugilite has been prized for its metaphysical and healing qualities seen often as a royal stone representing love, peace, prosperity, and overall guiding connection to the universe.