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Apatite crystals

Commonly known, that apatite is a group of phosphate minerals, and the primary use of apatite is in the manufacture of fertilizer as a source of phosphorus. Apatite is one of a few minerals produced and used by biological micro-environmental systems. Hydroxyapatite, also known as hydroxylapatite, is the major component of tooth enamel and bone mineral.

Name "apatite" originates from the Greek word for CHEAT. That unfair title was allegedly earned from apatite's possible confusion with andalusite, brazilianite, precious beryl, topaz or tourmaline. Seldom found in jewelry stores and unknown to the general public, apatite is just occasionally used as a gemstone and it is beloved by collectors for its many different colors and forms. The range of colors includes colorless, pink, yellow, green, blue and violet.

Apatite in silver jewelry by Aden Angier
click to enlarge

Transparent stones of clean color have usually been faceted. If crystals of rutile have grown in the crystal of apatite, in the right light the cut stone displays a cat's eye (chatoyant) effect. Such stones are known as cat's-eye apatite; and chatoyant specimens have been cabochon cut. Transparent green stones are known as asparagus stone, and blue stones have been called moroxite. A rare variety is a rich purple from Maine. Blue Brazilian stones are second in demand.

The recent availability of the neon blue-green variety from Madagascar has resulted in more apatite jewelry. The color of the best specimens of this type rivals the famed Paraiba tourmalines, but apatite lacks tourmaline's toughness and hardness. As for any other gems, color saturation defines the value. Major sources for gem apatite are Brazil, Burma, and Mexico. Other sources include Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

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