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Kyanite crystals

Kyanite is an attractive gem that was discovered during the nineteenth century and named in 1789 by Abraham Gottlieb Werner from the Greek word KYANOS, meaning "deep blue", the common color of the species. The French spelling, "Cyanite", was commonly used by mineralogists through much of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The most highly prized kyanite is the vibrant blue or blue-green hue. It is also found in shades of black, gray, yellow, pink, white and colorless that is considered quite rare. Color varieties include recently discovered orange kyanite from Tanzania.

Kyanite has a nearly unique characteristic in that it has a wide variation in hardness in the same crystal face: it is approximately 4.5 (Mohs scale) when scratched parallel to the long axis of the crystal and approximately 6.5 when scratched perpendicular to or across the long axis.

Round kyanite sterling silver ring
click to enlarge

In ancient times it was believed that a kyanite suspended from a human hair could follow the earth's magnetic force like a compass needle. Early travelers took kyanite along with them to use it as a compass when exploring unknown territories.

Kyanite is used to manufacture a wide range of products especially ceramics. It has been used as a semiprecious gemstone, which may display cat's eye chatoyancy. It can be cut "en cabochon" and faceted, or used to produce beads and pendants. Kyanite is considered to be an "exotic" gemstone because it is not often used in jewelry.

Notable occurrences of kyanite include the United States (Virginia, Montana, Georgia and North Carolina), Brazil, Switzerland, Russia, Serbia, Austria, India, Myanmar, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

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