Spodumene is a mineral usually found in lithium-rich pegmatite. Quality gemstones made from spodumene are transparent, have a vitreous (or glassy) luster, and come in shades of gray, green, lilac, violet, white, and yellow, along with colorless stones. Spodumene gemstones are relatively new in the gem world and are little known to the public.
The word "spodumene" comes from a Greek word meaning "ash-colored," because lesser-quality gem crystals are usually white or yellowish and are opaque. Its chemical composition is lithium aluminum silicate. Spodumene gems are difficult to cut because of their cleavage, splintery fracture, and pleochroism. (Pleochroism means that a gem displays lighter, more intense color variations when viewed from various angles.)
There are two basic varieties of spodumene used for gemstones: hiddenite and kunzite. Hiddenite has green coloration due to its chromium content. Kunzite's color comes from its manganese content and is usually a pale, violet-pink but can sometimes be bright in color. Both gem varieties may fade in prolonged exposure to strong sunlight. Of the two varieties, kunzite is more famous and abundant than hiddenite. Recently, colorless and yellowish spodumene has been discovered. Some gemologists refer to this kind of spodumene as "triphane," but others just label it "spodumene."
Minerals and gems are often named for their discoverers or researchers, and the spodumene varieties are no different. Hiddenite is named for W.E. Hidden who discovered it in 1879 in North Carolina. Kunzite is named for gemologist G.F. Kunz who first described it in 1902. Today, deposits of spodumene are located in Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, Pakistan, and in the United States (California, North Carolina, and South Dakota).
Those who believe in the magical or healing powers of gemstones think wearing kunzite reduces feelings of inhibition, inferiority, and depression. It can also ease tight muscles due to stress and brings calming to nervousness. Its healing effects supposedly help with problems due to sciatica and other painful joints, thyroid activity, narrowing of the arteries, and drug and alcohol addiction.