Apatite Gems, A Color Splash

One very interesting thing about apatite is the origin of it's name. A Greek word that means to deceive, is that gave the apatite stone it's name. Apatite gemstones can be found in a few colors, yellow, green and blue are some of them. An untrained eye can confuse apatite gems with more expensive gems like peridot and even (yellow) beryl. The Greek word that means 'deceive' was therefore used to name this gem.

Though apatite itself is not very scarce, good quality crystals are rare and many of these find their way to the gems markets. Most people treat apatite as one group but infact, there would be three varieties of apatite if you had to analyze the composition of the stone. Fluorine, Cholrine and Hydroxyl would each form an apatite variety depending on their presence in the stone. Someone did try to name each of these apatites but, seemed to have a low level of imagination and creativity! Depending on the proportion of fluorine, chlorine and hydroxyl in the apatite stone, it is named Fluorapatite, Hydroxylapatite and Chlorapatite. For our discussion on apatite stones used in the gemstone and jewelry industry, we will club all these into one nice family and refer to them as apatite gemstones. The distinction will be made by color so we will have yellow apatite, blue apatite, green apatite etc.

Many of our readers might have not heard of apatite gemstones. It really is no surprise as a significant number of jewelers, might have never seen an apatite gem. The popularity of any gem depends on a few factors, some are in demand for their color, others for their hardness, many others for traditions and beliefs attached to them. Apatite has beauty and grace, it is also possible to get fine yellow apatite crystals that need no treatment or color enhancement. The weak point of apatite gems is their hardness, they measure up to a paltry 5 on the Mohs scale. The gem is therefore not easy to cut as it can break and crack. Setting apatite gem stones in jewelry is not easy either because, uneven pressure exerted by the setter can cause the gemstone to break. After you surpass all these obstacles, apatite gem stone jewelry will need to be handled with a few precautions. These issues have kept apatite gems on the sidelines most of the time.

Blue apatite is a popular color for apatite gems, much of the apatite in this color is heat treated for color enhancement. Greenish blue, bluish green, bright blue that can imitate the color of swiss blue topaz and even the vibrant neon blue apatite stones, are got through the heat treatment process. There are some interesting things about heat treatment used for apatite gems. The temperature normally used is in the 400 to 600 degrees range. The heat can change the color of the gem but, it can also cause natural inclusions in the stone to expand. Any cracks that might be present within the apatite gem can widen and cause the stone to crack. When a gem manufacturer undertakes the heating process for apatite, he calculates the risk of stone loss. The cost of the destroyed or damaged apatite gemstones, are added to the cost of good output that makes it through the heating process. You now know why blue apatite sells at a higher price, the process loss is one of the reasons for a hike in price.

You can find yellow, blue or greenish blue apatite loose gems in good eye clean quality and with a fine color. While you can take it for granted that the bluish and greenish varieties of apatite gems are treated for color enhancement, it is possible to get eye clean yellow apatite gemstones that are natural and untreated. We are not going to fool you by telling you that such apatite gems are soon going to become extinct but, not many gem dealers stock this gem.

After you have read the above information you might wonder whether, apatite gems should be used in the jewelry industry at all. We have frankly explained the lack of durability of apatite gems in the above parapgraphs. It is however true that fine gem quality apatite gemstones are hard to resist. A nice eye clean blue apatite can imitate the color of swiss blue topaz but, it sometimes seems more feminine and valuable than swiss blue topaz. Few apatite mining locations in Mexico output an awesome variety of yellow apatite gemstones. This is a bright yellow color with good clarity, all this goodness without relying on any external treatments or enhancing processes. Orissa in India also provides a yellow apatite gem but,  the color here is much quieter as compared to the Mexican mines.

Caring for apatite gemstones, is important to understand and practise. If you wish to get some apatite gem stone jewelry, limit it to pendants, earrings or necklaces. Rings put more wear and tear on the gemstone and this makes apatite less suitable for rings. We would definitely say that, apatite gems are not suitable for 'all day and all night' wear. Acids and strong chemical solvents can negatively affect the gem, some acids infact dissolve apatite! Keep apatite stones away from hard objects, do not wear apatite gem stone jewels when doing heavy physical activity. If you ever take your apatite jewel for repair, make sure that the jeweller knows about the gemstone. In many cases, it would be a good idea to take off the apatite stone, repair the metal mounting and then set the gemstone back.