- NEW DVD Series – Stone Setting with Bezels
- Tube Set Charm by Kim St. Jean
- Prong Basket Pendant by Kim St. Jean
- NEW DVD Series – Stone Setting with Cold Connections
- New DVD Series – Stone Setting with Wire
- NEW DVD Series: Introduction to Stone Setting by Kim St. Jean
- Featured Tool: Bracelet Bending Plier
- NEW Dvd by Eva Sherman
- Fun, Fast Fold Forming DVD Series
- Double Band Ear Cuff from Alex Simkin
Gem Profile Jan. 25: Variscite
by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com
This week we’re going to talk about another green stone; Variscite. Though not green like Demantoid or Tsavorite Garnets, Variscite is a beautiful stone named for the German locality of Variscia where it was first discovered in 1837. Variscite is often confused with turquoise, though it is greener in color and is found in fewer places. If the dealer couldn’t tell if the stone is turquoise or variscite, sometimes the stone simply got the name variquoise! (It is probably variscite, though.)
Variscite Facts & Locations
Variscite is a relatively rare hydrated aluminum phosphate, formed as a secondary mineral in areas where phosphate and clay minerals are found together. Variscite is formed near the surface in nodules or veins, and as breccias in fault lines; it can form in crystals though they are very small and rare. Variscite has a sister mineral, Strengite, that has iron instead of aluminum in the chemical composition. In this case the Variscite is pink to purple. This pink variscite is mostly found in Brazil around iron mines or other iron-rich areas with clay soil.
Though originally found in Germany and still mined there today, the best specimens are found in Utah near Farfield and Lucin in Utah County where the variscite is found in the form of nodules. Other notable areas for variscite are Nevada; Queensland, Australia; and Brazil. Variscite is also known as Utahlite, Lucinite, Bolivarite, and Barrandite.
Care for Variscite
Variscite is a relatively soft mineral with a Mohs Hardness of 3-5. Since it is a close cousin of Turquoise, you should treat it in very much the same way; keep it away from oil, rough handling and ultrasonic cleaners. Don’t clean it with solvents, or use oil on the stone to improve luster as it will discolor. Variscite can be reconstituted in the same manner as turquoise and so far we haven’t seen any stimulants except for the really funky colors coming out of China that are pretty, but really not variscite.
Variscite Metaphysical Properties
Variscite is known to help balance the central nervous system, clarify the mind and help with depression. It can help give courage, build self-reliance and bring success to the wearer. Variscite centers the heart chakra and forms a connection between spiritual and physical bodies.
Come Find some Variscite
Road Trip! Okay, so if you really want so see some variscite for yourself, you can either take a trip to JOGS, your local rock shop or come visit us in Utah! The mines that have variscite are located in one of the most remote areas in Utah, surrounded by salt flats and pretty much nothing else, but if you’re a really hardcore rockhound, travel to Snowville, Utah and head toward Wells, Nevada. When you’re about halfway to Wells, there will be a dirt road that turns toward a small mountain in the distance; this is where the Variscite mine is. Keep in mind that if you pick up variscite from anywhere be sure there is not a mining claim or that it’s not on BLM land. See the Utah State Geology website for more information and please take plenty of water, a GPS, and a satellite phone.
There’s no shame in leaving variscite mining to the pros, though! You’re better off visiting Provo and purchasing some from the many rock shops that carry it there. Hike Bridal Veil Falls, see the mountains, and go skiing this time of year, or boating later in the summer. Take a short trip to Salt Lake, visit the Natural History Museum at the University of Utah, and see some great samples of Variscite. You can even catch the symphony, a play or visit the zoo while you’re here too! (and come see us, of course!)
Next week, we are going to take a look at another all-American “gem”: Fordite! Have you ever wrapped Fordite aka Detroit Agate? Send us a picture at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature it in next week’s gem profile. See you then!
Resources & Recommended Reading
Gem Profile by Layna Palmer