Charoite Properties Meaning Facts and Photos
What is Charoite?
Charoite is a rock forming mineral first discovered in 1948 by geologist Vladimir Ditmar. It was another twenty years before the site where this purple stone was found was revisited by geologists. Only then was it fully investigated.
Charoite was found in Yakutia also known as the Republic of Sakha. This area covers more than three million square kilometres in Russia's Far East (Siberia).
The world's only mine is the Sirenevy Kamen deposit which lies close to the Chara River Valley after which the stone is believed to have been named. Some argue charoite was named after the Russian word 'charovat' meaning to charm, bewitch, wonder or magical in reference to its appearance.
Another rare mineral called eudialyte can also be found in this area.
Unique and wonderfully distinctive, charoite was only classified as a mineral in its own right in 1977. It was named officially a year later in 1978. Prior to this it was virtually unknown outside of Russia.
When polished, charoite can exhibit lilac to rich purple colour along with beautiful swirling patterns. Some stones can be slightly chatoyant.
Shades of black white and orange may also be present. These colours are associated with the minerals aegirine-augite, feldspar and tinaksite.
Other minerals including microcline, apophyllite, fedorite and canasite have also been found in some samples of charoite.
Despite being more readily available now than it once was, charoite is still relatively rare. Finding larger quantities and fine grade material has always been particularly challenging. This is likely to become worse because of the political situation in Russia.
It's believed there's almost no gem-grade charoite left available to mine.
The remote location where this purple stone is found makes access extremely difficult especially for heavy machinery. For this reason the Republic of Sakha has limited the amount of charoite that can be mined each year to one hundred tons.
Once charoite became known to the outside world it quickly captured the attention of collectors and enthusiasts. Before long it was being widely used as a lapidary material.
Charoite grades 5 to 6 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.
The charoite at the top of our page is on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C. The stone in the second photo is in London's Natural History Museum. Both images are clickable and redirect to the original non-compressed photo. Photos by Stone Mania.