A lesser-known gem in the mainstream jewellery world, the apatite group has a lot to offer the world of gemmology. The Greek word apate translates as ‘deceit’, given that this gemstones not only looks like other gems and crystals it is also regularly confused for other gems because similar readings in the lab it’s often referred to as the ‘deceiver’. Apatite is one of those sneaky stones that likes to play dress up and makes our detective work all the more challenging.
One interesting fact about apatite, back in the early 1960s-1970’s moon rocks were brought back to earth by Apollo astronauts and these rocks contained traces of apatite (pretty cool right!) and that apatite is used to make plasma TV screens.
Apatite is a group of phosphate minerals belonging to the hexagonal crystal system. Colours are typically yellow-brown, yellow- green to green-blue, with vivid blue apatite being particularly rare and popular. Not only does apatite get confused for many other minerals it also plays host to them as well with typical inclusions of tourmaline, glass, biotite, goethite, hematite, manganese oxide, and pyrrhotite. Crystals are either short hexagonal prisms or hexagonal tabular. Although chatoyancy is a very common phenomenon in green or yellow apatite, deep blue apatite with a cat’s-eye effect is quite rare.
A favourite crystal of his collection, Bunny, Made In Earth owner and designer, loves the drama these deep blue/green crystals bring to his jewellery designs.
“Apatite crystals are a nice break from the transparent quartz or tourmaline. The deep blues bring a burst of colour and their well-defined crystal forms add bold shapes to my designs. Although I love our apatite crystals, I’ve recently added cat’s eye apatite cabochons to our collection. The sheen contrasts against the blue/green body colour of the stones to really show off this phenomenon. Like most gemstones, the price of apatite has risen so obtaining these unusual varieties is becoming more difficult.”
With a hardness of 5 on MOH’s scale, Apatite is a relatively soft stone and should be worn with caution. Its softness can make it difficult to cut and polish, something Bunny has had experience with.
“We tend to have rough with beautiful deep blue colour but lacking the translucency to really see its potential. I’ve managed to polish some cabochons into slices so that the light can transmit through the stone. The end result is amazing but the softness of apatite means we’ve lost a few stones in the process.”
Known as the deceiver, apatite has the ability to potentially trick people into thinking its another gem but you also can't look past apatite's own unique beauty.