Sugilite | Rare Stone from South Africa

 

 

 

sugilite rough mineral specimen in a museum display cabinet

 

History of Sugilite


Sugilite which in the past has also been known as luvulite although the name is now rarely used, is a relatively new mineral that was first discovered in Japan in 1944.  In 1976 it was named after the eminent petrologist who found it, Professor Kenichi Sugi but the greenish yellowish brown stone that he discovered was quite different in appearance to the distinctive purple coloured rock that was found many years later in South Africa. The mineral found in Japan was at the time believed to be a variety of eudialyte so was not considered to be something completely new.  It was another thirty two years before it was finally classified as a mineral in its own right. 

In 1973 a new source of sugilite came to light in an area known as the Kalahari Manganese Field in the Southern Kalahari Desert, South Africa.  As well as the size of the area dwarfing anything that had been found previously, the quality of the stone was also far superior.  The vast majority came out of the Wessels Mine although much smaller quantities were also present in the adjacent N'Chwaning Mine.

 

 

Source of Sugilite


Although sugilite occurs both as crystals and in massive form crystals are very rare and have only been found in a limited number of locations worldwide.  The vast majority of the world's sugilite and certainly almost all of the finest grade material, comes from the Kalahari Manganese Field which is the largest known manganese deposit on the planet.  Based in the Northern Cape of South Africa it lies amongst sedimentary rocks known to be more than two billion years old.  Over the last few years smaller deposits of gem grade material have been found in Italy, New South Wales, Mount Saint-Hilaire Canada and Tajikistan.  Stone has also reportedly been found in India but because of the limited amount present and low grade, it has not been pursued.

 

a single polished sugilite stone

 

Sugilite in Crystal Healing


When used for crystal healing it's said to strengthen the heart, aid physical healing and reduce stress.  It balances the mind, body and spirit and encourages peace of mind and a general feeling of well-being and spiritual love.  Due to the present of manganese sugilite is also said to be a good remedy for a headache.

 

 

More Sugilite Facts


Sugilite is usually pronounced with a soft 'g' as in the word 'genius' but the correct pronunciation should be with a hard 'g' as in 'gold'.  The reason for this is because the surname of person after whom the mineral was named should be pronounced in this way. 

On Mohs scale of mineral hardness sugilite grades 7 which puts it on par with quartz.  The finest grade material when in massive form is known as gel sugilite but due to its rarity the smallest piece can command an eye-watering price.

As a company who does a considerable amount of business in South Africa and who deals with several suppliers across the country, we have in recent years found it extremely difficult to source any fine grade stones and the material that we have managed to find certainly isn't cheap.  Sugilite is a rare and highly sought after mineral that's likely to be in high demand for many years to come.

 

 

five rough sugilite stones sitting in a shallow cardboard lid

 

 

 

The photos in this article were taken by Stone Mania ©.  The museum piece at the top of the page is on display in the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Massachusetts, USA and both the polished stone and rough pieces were once part of our collection. 

 

 

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Further Reading

Geology Related Article
Photos of Beautiful Sugilite