Gem Profile Mar. 29: Unakite

By on March 29, 2013
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by Layna Palmer,

Today's Gem Profile is...


Shop Unakite Beads| Shop Unakite Cabochons

Unakite (pronounced you-na-kite) is a beautiful green and salmon-pink metamorphic stone. Unakite is an altered form of granite, classified as an Epidote. Epidote is crystallized in a monoclinic system, and has a yellow-green in color. Unakite mixes that green epidote with pink orthoclase feldspar and colorless quartz, giving it the mottled or speckled appearance. Epidote comes from the Greek epidosis, or “growing together.” What perfect way to describe Unakite!

Argentium wire pendant with unakite beads by Bryan Cook

Argentium wire wrapped sea glass pendant with unakite beads by Bryan Cook. The pale sea glass is from Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Metamorphic rocks are some of my favorite (I think I’ve said that before about another type of rock too…). The reason I like metamorphic rocks is because they start as one thing and end up as something else.


Unakite Heart Pendant by Joan Madouse

Unakite Heart Pendant by Joan Madouse, wrapped in copper wire with ivory seed beads and antique brown spacer beads.

How Unakite Forms

In the case of Unakite, sand and rock were flooded by lava flowing over them, changing to granite through contact. Over time, this granite was also flooded by geothermic water, which dissolved the iron and changed some of the feldspar to epidote which is the green color. The salmon pink is potassium feldspar, and is also interspersed with quartz. So, what started out as sand and boulders, ended up as an epidote called Unakite! Isn’t metamorphosis fun!

Gina Smith created this Unakite Necklace in copper wire

Gina Smith created this Unakite Necklace for her mother, with a Unakite cabochon and beads, Swarovski crystals, and copper wire with a handmade Viking knit chain. (click to view larger)

How Unakite got its Name

So, how exactly did we decide on the name Unakite? Well, the first place it was found was near the Unaka Mountains of North Carolina and is pretty common in the Blue Ridge Mountains where it can be found in road cuts, streams, and rubble piles. You might come across unakite in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. It’s also found in the Shenandoah National Park and surrounding areas and has been found as far North as the shores of the Great Lakes! We’ve also found deposits of this epidote in South Africa, China, Brazil, and Canada.

Karen McCoun wrapped this unakite wire pendant

Karen McCoun wrapped this lovely unakite wire pendant.

Unakite is pretty easy to identify since it’s nearly the only rock that is both green and pink. It has a hardness of 6-7 and is generally used as cabochons and beads. Unakite does have perfect cleavage in one direction, so it doesn’t facet very well.

Unakite Metaphysical Properties

Unakite is used to bring positive feelings, build self-confidence and helps you take power over your own life. It also helps to focus your mind on the good and beautiful things in life helping to uncover deceit and can help you to transform fear and anger to compassion and love. If you’re expecting a baby, wearing unakite is said to promote healthy grown of the infant and protect the mother and baby from harm.

Bryan Cook wrapped this Unakite and sea glass pendant.

Bryan Cook wrapped this Unakite and brown sea glass pendant in Argentium silver wire. The sea glass is from Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Go find it!

Road Trip! Because unakite is found in and around the Shenandoah National Forest and Blue Ridge Mountains, there are plenty of opportunities to rock hound, camp, hike fish and get in touch with nature. Unakite is still mined near Rockbridge, Virginia, near Vesuvius. You may want to check with the local USGS office in the area for a topographic map and as always, go prepared with water, eye protection, and make sure you don’t pick up unakite from any staked claims in the area. Better yet, just visit a rock shop and then go camping or fishing in the beautiful mountains!

Next week, we’ll be exploring Goldstone, the beautiful, sparkly gemstone that’s perfect beyond nature! Have you made jewelry with goldstone before, either brown goldstone or blue goldstone? Send pictures to and they could be featured next week!

Resources & Recommended Reading

Gem Profile by Layna Palmer

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  1. avatar

    Susan Ertel

    March 29, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Unakite is also found in the Rocky Mts. We find in the Big Horn Sheep canyon, where the Arkansas River flows through granite. It is between Salida and Parkdale, CO. A lot closer than the east coast. I tumble a lot for cabs, and have cutting material ready to go. Thanks for these articles, enjoy them on Fridays.

  2. avatar


    March 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Looking forward to the article on goldstone–but did you know there’s also a green version? I have a couple strands of that, but haven’t used them yet.

    • avatar


      April 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      How cool, Dee, I’ve never heard of green goldstone! I’d love to see a picture!

  3. avatar

    Alice Ryan

    April 2, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks for this article on one of my favorite stones. I’ve been collecting various sizes & shapes as I can afford them. Now I’m inspired to try making something with them. I love seeing what others have done with particular stones. Love the information!