Gem Profile Oct. 26: Sodalite

By on October 26, 2012
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by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com

Today's Gem Profile is...

Sodalite

Shop Sodalite Cabochons | Shop Sodalite Beads

Today’s Gem Profile is Sodalite.  No, I’m not talking about a new fizzy diet drink, but a blue stone that is named for its relatively high Sodium content.  In addition to Sodium, it also contains Aluminum, Chlorine, and Oxygen, has a hardness of 5.5-6 and is a member of the Sodalite group along with Lazurite.  It can be classified as feldspar, but lacks quartz structure. That’s why sodalite is better-suited for cabochons and beads rather than faceted stones.

Sodalite pendant in sterling silver wire

Terri Dillon cut and polished this sodalite pendant, then wrapped it sterling silver wire, accenting with silver beads.

Sodalite is generally streaked white with Calcite and can range in color from royal blue, to purple green and white.   Because of its blue color, Sodalite is often used as a substitute for Lapis, but lacks Pyrite and is a Royal Blue rather than Ultramarine.  One way to tell Lapis and Sodalite apart is through a streak test.  Lapis will streak blue, but Sodalite will streak white.

Sodalite bead necklace set

Barb LUndeen created this necklace and earrings set using sodalite beads and a sodalite donut.

Sodalite was first discovered in Greenland in 1806, although it took a Glasgow chemist, Professor Thomas Thomson, to name the stone. The British commissioned him to identify it from a captured shipment being sent from Greenland to Denmark during the Napoleonic Wars.

Sodalite Bead link Necklace

Gail Chambers wrapped sodalite beads into a 24-1/2 inch link necklace she named Jolie, using silver-plated filigree S links.

Sodalite went relatively undiscovered in the ornamental stone world until 1891 when a large deposit was found near Ontario Canada by Frank D. Adams during a geological survey.  As the stone gained popularity, Princess Patricia of England visited Ontario and fell in love with the stone and chose it as an interior decoration for the Marlborough house in England.  Because of this, many people started calling Sodalite “Princess Blue.” Sodalite has also been called “Canadian Blue stone,” “Bluestone,” and “Canadian Lapis.”

Sodalite heart pendant wire wrapped

Joan Madouse used silver craft wire to wrap this 52mm sodalite heart into a pendant, accenting it with ivory beads.

In addition to Greenland and Ontario, there have been deposits found in Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, India, Namibia, Portugal, Romania, Russia, and parts of the United States.  The Smithsonian has a beautiful sample of Sodalite from Litchfield, Maine.  In fact, Litchfield’s city seal features Sodalite, which was called “Litchfeildite” for some time prior to the 1890s, when it was discovered to be a form of Sodalite.

Wire wrapped sodalite watch band

Marty Blu's Treasure Link Bracelet inspired Gina to make this watchband using sodalite chip beads and a watch face!

Sodalite is said to be a gemstone of the throat chakra, and is associated with the thyroid.  It is also said to have healing properties that are said to bring calmness to the mind, enhance truth and objectivity along with emotional balance, and some say sodalite can even calm panic attacks, boost self esteem, and prevent insomnia.

Sodalite Wire Crochet Necklace

Gail Chambers created this sodalite necklace, named Nasha (an African name meaning "born during the rainy season") using copper wire and sodalite beads (over 300!) in a 19 inch copper wire crochet.

Sodalite is a very versatile and beautiful stone, from beads and cabochons in jewelry to tile, flooring and even countertops in the building trades.  If it’s a beautiful royal blue stone…it’s probably Sodalite.

Next Friday’s Gem Profile is on aragonite. Have you made wire jewelry with Aragonite beads or cabochons before – in cream, brown, as part of a fossil, or any other type of aragonite? Send your Aragonite pictures to tips@wire-sculpture.com, and they could be featured!

Resources & Recommended Reading

Gem Profile by Layna Palmer

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5 Comments

  1. avatar

    zoraida

    October 26, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Sodalite is one of my favorite stones. I love its’ beautiful blues and soft creamy whites. Thank you for this profile, and the jewelry is lovely too!

  2. avatar

    Jane Elizabeth Duke

    October 26, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I love that you include the mystical/medicinal properties of each stone. I have for years searched to find stones to help with insomnia particularly, as well as panic attacks! It never ceases to amaze me all that I take away from your research! Having had cervical fusion in 2000, my thyroid was of course affected. Since the doctors have had such a hard time controlling my thyroid I have nothing to loose by wearing a lovely piece of sodalite! I’ll keep you apprised!

  3. avatar

    Bonnie kyles

    October 26, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    I have been noticing that it has become difficult to find large hole sodalite beads. Also the 6-10mm round beads are harder to find and in most cases have a lot more white than blue color. Anyone know why it’s harder to find sodalite?

  4. avatar

    Connie

    October 27, 2012 at 11:12 am

    Would sodalite be a good bead or cabachon choice to use when difusing essential oils. I want to make jewelry that will also have healing properties for the oils that can be put on them as well as for the stones in them. Do I need to worry about the finish? I don’t want to have a highly absorbant stone but one that will function for both.

  5. avatar

    Christine

    October 27, 2012 at 10:23 pm

    I have loved sodalite since visiting the Princess Sodalite mine in Bancroft Ontario Canada. (not near Ontario IN Ontario). Sodalite can also come in red or have red streaks in it. It is my understanding that the Princess mine is now closed but the rock shop and Rock farm still opperate. The farm is still seaded with sodalite but it is no longer mined in volume. this might have something to do with the rising prices and difficulty obtaining the beads.

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