Kunzite is a pink to violet variety of Spodumene, named after the American mineralogist G.F. Kunz in 1902. A relative newcomer to the market, it became a popular gemstone due to the soft pastel colours that vary in intensity as the stone is turned. This is caused by trichroic pleochroism. Most kunzite is light in colour with good clarity and a good lustre, giving faceted stones a very bright appearance. Highly saturated stones are rare and command much higher prices.
Chatoyant material also occurs and is cut either en cabochon or as beads to produce cat's eye kunzite. The material is often found in large pieces enabling the production of large beads with a perfect cat’s eye all around the stone.
Kunzite can fade in sunlight or strong artificial light, so exposure to any strong light is not recommended. It has perfect cleavage in two directions so care is required to avoid physical knocks.
Source locations for Kunzite include: Afghanistan, Brazil (main source), Madagascar, Myanmar, Pakistan and the USA (California and North Carolina).
Irradiation is used to improve the colour of pale stones. Irradiated kunzite is normally stable, but prolonged exposure to heat or strong light may fade the stone.