Unakite Gemstone Information
Unakite is an incredible stone, featuring unique colors and patterns unlike anything else. However, even though it’s breathtaking, many people aren’t familiar with the unakite gemstone.
If you’re looking for unique jewelry pieces or want to add an intriguing gemstone to your gem collection, the unakite stone is a wise addition. If you’re curious about its properties, coloring, history, and more, here’s what you need to know about this captivating gemstone.
If you’re wondering, “What is unakite?” the answer may surprise you. While many people refer to it as a gemstone, the physical properties of unakite qualify it as an altered granite and classify it as a metamorphic rock.
Unakite features a mix of orthoclase feldspar, quartz, and epidote. When hydrothermal activity alters granite, the plagioclase can be replaced by epidote, creating the resulting composite. Once the process completes, the combination gives the stone a unique look and intriguing patterning.
Since unakite has a hardness in the 6.0 to 7.0 range on the Mohs scale, it is ideal for lapidary use. The unakite stone readily takes a polish.
Like many stones, unakite isn’t just a single color. Instead, unakite is a green and pink stone with striking veining.
The reason for the color variances is the gem’s composition. The orthoclase in unakite gemstones is pink, while the epidote is a vibrant green. As for the veining, that’s created by the quartz.
As for the exact shades, the pink areas tend to be mid-toned, warm, and slightly earthy. With the green, you usually find hues ranging from light pistachio to a deeper forest. The colors of the veins vary, though they are typically deeper colors.
In most cases, unakite tends to be opaque. However, the stone’s hardness makes it ideal for polishing, creating a lovely, glossy finish.
The History of Unakite
Unakite was first discovered in the Unaka Mountains in the United States in the mid-1870s. The first person to describe the stone was Frank Bradley, a geologist with East Tennessee State University.
If you wonder, “What is unakite used for typically?” the stone is mainly used for ornamental purposes. Unakite jewelry is one popular option. Additionally, it’s a favorite for gemstone eggs and carvings.
There are some instances where unakite was used as an architectural feature. For example, large slabs of unakite have been turned into floor tiles, window sills, stair treads, and even table or counter surfaces. In fact, the stone was chosen to create the trim on the front steps of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, as well as for a landing at the museum’s south entrance.
Aside from ornamental and architectural uses, unakite has also been turned into construction aggregate. Once crushed, the resulting material is useful as drainage stone, gravel road surface, fill, and more.
At one point, there was a proposal to make unakite the state gemstone of Virginia. However, that did not go through, and fossil coral is currently the official gem of Virginia.
Where Is Unakite Found?
While unakite was first discovered in the Unaka Range region of the United States, that isn’t the only place where you can find the stone. Deposits have also been located in Brazil, China, Sierra Leone, and South Africa. Additionally, some have found samples along the banks of Lake Superior and the shores of many Virginia rivers.
Typically, unakite isn’t a fine jewelry stone used by chain jewelers. Partially, this is because the gem’s unique coloring makes it hard to mass-produce consistent-looking pieces, which isn’t ideal for large chains.
However, since it’s easy to work with and has a striking look, unakite is widely used by independent designers. Consistency is less of a concern with independent jewelers as they don’t have to produce a particular piece en masse. As a result, they can craft small runs featuring unique stones, such as unakite.
In most cases, unakite is turned into cabochons. In some cases, pieces of unakite are simply tumbled, leaving the shape natural while achieving a pleasant polished surface.
Unakite beads are also quite popular. Finding unakite bracelets and strand necklaces featuring polished beads is reasonably simple. In some cases, you may even find pendulums made with unakite beads.
While it isn’t as common, some independent jewelers do leave unakite rough. In those cases, pendants are usually the preferred design, though some designers may create other pieces featuring raw unakite.
The unakite stone meaning varies depending on the belief system. One of the most widely adopted meanings has to do with balance. Since the stone features colors commonly associated with the heart and the Earth, some feel it calms emotions and brings a sense of stability to matters of the heart.
Others feel that the unakite metaphysical properties align more closely with the third eye and spiritual vision, making it beneficial for activities like scrying. For some, the stone is about connecting with nature, forwarding friendships, and connecting with feminine energy.
When it comes to the unakite chakra, it’s usually connected to the heart chakra. Both pink and green are associated with the fourth chakra, making unakite a clear fit.
As for unakite healing properties, some do think that the stone can assist with certain ailments. In most cases, those capabilities are connected to the nervous system or reproductive system. At times, it’s thought the unakite assists with skin and hair growth. However, like other unakite meanings, that varies from one group to the next.
It’s important to note that the healing properties of unakite – including wearing, meditating on, or holding the gemstone in the hope of improving any condition – should never be viewed as a substitute for genuine medical care. If you are experiencing a health issue, speak with a trained physician.
Stones Similar to Unakite
Since unakite is a composite instead of a single mineral, there aren’t many stones that are highly similar to unakite. If you’re looking for multi-colored stones in similar hues, fluorite can have similar coloring. However, fluorite tends to be translucent or transparent, not opaque like unakite.
In some cases, pieces of agate or jasper may bear similarities to unakite as well. However, there are usually color or pattern differences that keep them from looking too much alike.
If you happen to find a piece of zoisite that also contains ruby, that stone can have varying shades of green and red. However, such gems are scarce. Not only are they more challenging to find than unakite, but they are also quite expensive, making them a less-than-ideal substitute for cost-conscious buyers.
The same can go for apatite. Apatite may be pink or green, though both colors aren’t usually found in a single specimen. Also, apatite isn’t typically opaque and is usually much more expensive than unakite, so it isn’t necessarily the strongest match.
Aventurine can also be both green and pink. Again, the two colors don’t often occur together and, since pink is the rarest shade, pink aventurine isn’t the most affordable gem.