Saturday, August 27, 2011

Charoite -- Lavender Purple and Pearly -- What's Not to Like?

Siberian Charoite PendantCharoite is a lavender purple stone with a pearlescent white that is unique to the Charo River Valley in Siberia, Russia. I fell in love with this stone early in my stone collecting career. That was a lucky thing, too, as the quality available now is not nearly as good as it was when I collected my pieces. ...And with the decrease in quality of the cabs, there has been a 400% increase in price!

This kite-shaped cabochon was one of the first pieces I discovered. My source for this stone lived in St. Petersburg, would travel up to Siberia to collect the stones, and then ship them to me from Finland. The rich purple, large areas of pearly lavender and the hint of black contrast make this a lovely specimen piece. This special stone deserved a special setting, so I designed this unique geometric wrap specifically for it.

Charoite Drop PendantSome time later, I stumbled upon these torpedo-shaped charoite at a gem show. What I liked about this piece was the gradation from the darkest purple down to the pale lavender to the pearlescent bottom...and the shape! The deep grapey purple is a real treat in this specimen stone. This is a drilled bead and, fortunately, the stones were very reasonably priced (for a rare stone). I had fun capping this off with a heavy sterling silver cap and a matching sterling heishe on the bottom.

Charoite EarringsMuch more recently, I was able to find these smaller stones, perfect for earrings. I hadn't seen the stone cut in such small pieces, probably because they are trying to use up smaller caches or perhaps just find a more affordable size. Another possibility, is that these are not from Siberia, but from a newer mine, recently discovered in China. The charoite from this mine is typically a paler purple and lacks the pearly quality of its Siberian cousin.

However you look at it, it you love purple and are intrigued by rarity, charoite is a stone to consider. With its variety of purple to lavender and the amazing pearly quality, it will always attract admiring comments and definitely falls into the "family heirloom" category!

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