Most prized by mineral collectors, kyanite isn’t a mainstream gemstone, making it an exotic option in jewelry. Until recently, it wasn’t regarded as a fine gem, but in the last decades high quality varieties have been found comparable to more valuable gemstones. Just like any other stone, kyanite has its own meaning and symbolism. Let’s take a look at what makes kyanite unusual and interesting.
What Is Kyanite Gemstone?
Kyanite pendant by Frieda Sophie. See it here.
Kyanite is an aluminum silicate mineral with an anisotropic quality. This means that the gemstone exhibits varying properties depending on its orientation.
The name comes from the Greek word kyanos which means blue. It’s also called by its French name cyanite and sometimes disthene, meaning two strengths. This refers to the fact that the hardness of kyanite varies from 4 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale, depending on the angle of its cut.
While it’s typically regarded as a blue gem, kyanite also comes in many colors, such as orange, yellow, green, blue green, pink, white, nearly black, and even colorless. However, blue is the most common variety, while colorless is the rarest. Some blue varieties have a strong resemblance to sapphires, orange varieties to Spessartine garnet, and bluish green varieties to alexandrite.
Similar to sapphire, kyanite’s blue color is caused by traces of iron and titanium, while its orange variety contains small amounts of manganese. The green coloring in the gem is caused by vanadium and chromium, which are also present in emeralds.
Kyanite is commonly sourced from the United States, France, Switzerland, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, Nepal and India. Large blue and blue-green crystals are often sourced from Brazil, while fine blue crystals are sourced from Kenya—and recently from Nepal. Orange kyanites are found in Tanzania, and green kyanites in India.
Kyanite gold ring by Karrah Jewellery. See it here.
Color is the first factor that determines the value of the gemstone. Kyanite’s blue hue ranges from pale to dark. Its clear deep blue variety is commonly used in jewelry, rivaling the beauty of sapphires and tanzanite. This is why kyanite was used as imitation for more expensive gems and falsely traded as blue sapphire. Other colors of kyanite aren’t common in jewelry since they don’t tend to have the transparency of the blue varieties.
Kyanite typically has color zoning in a single crystal, exhibiting multiple shades of blue in different intensities. Some even have a grayish tone, which makes them undesirable for jewelry. Color consistency in a gem is more coveted, though asterism and “cat’s eye” effect are sometimes observed in cabochons.
Some kyanite is slightly pleochroic, with the gemstone showing different colors when viewed under different lights. Kyanite gemstones aren’t treated or enhanced, as it’s reported to lose its color when heated at high temperatures.
Kyanite stud earrings with good clarity by Galanta Jewels. See them here.
Kyanite can be transparent to translucent, but varieties with a good clarity are rare, as almost all stones have visible flaws. Kyanites tend to have white streak-like inclusions. Most are parallel while others are perpendicular. High quality kyanites have a vitreous, pearly luster when cut and polished.
While inclusions are acceptable, they shouldn’t affect the beauty of the jewelry piece. Since clarity and luster make the stone more valuable, kyanite is sometimes enhanced by applying synthetic lubricants or oil.
Kyanite Cut and Carat
Kyanite is challenging to cut and shape because it has different hardness within the same crystal—not to mention it has perfect cleavage (the tendency to cleave). It usually comes in blade-like crystals.
Transparent kyanites can be faceted into a variety of typical gemstone cuts, pear and oval shapes, though fancier shapes like hearts and are rare. Translucent varieties are often polished into cabochons. Sometimes, kyanite beads are flattened into long shapes to minimize rough wastage during the cutting process. Since large, gem-quality kyanites are rare, most stones are found in sizes under 2 carats.
Kyanite looks stunning in jewelry whether it’s faceted, in rough or en cabochon. Some designers manage to show the beauty of the stone in its rough state, looking earthy and organic. If you want a carefree, bohemian look, kyanite jewelry are perfect for you.
Even though it looks stunning when crafted into jewelry, kyanite is not as tough as other blue gemstones. Kyanite typically has the hardness of 4.5 to 5.5 parallel to its length, and the hardness of 6.5 to 7 across its width. Think of it like a plank of wood with fiber-like crystalline structure.
Still, it can be great for occasional wear, but is especially suited for earrings, pendants and brooches. It can also be a beautiful gemstone for an engagement ring, but it’s recommended to have it in a protective setting like bezel or halo. More than that, it has a perfect cleavage that can cause the gemstone to split with a hard blow. Step-like fractures in the stone can indicate its cleavage directions.
Kyanite vs. Sapphire
Kyanite and sapphire jewelry, like this ring by Blue Nile, can look similar.
Behind their resemblance, these blue gemstones have significant differences in properties and composition. It’s possible to find visual signs to guide you in differentiating them. Here are a few of them:
- Kyanite is composed of aluminum silicate formed in layers, while sapphire is a type of corundum.
- The color consistency in kyanite tends to be poor, as it commonly features color zoning and blotches, while sapphire typically has a saturated pure blue color.
- When it comes to clarity, kyanite tends to come with lots of streak-like inclusions, while sapphire has fewer visible needle-like inclusions.
- Kyanite is a brittle gemstone with hardness that varies from 4 to 7.5, while sapphire is one of the hardest gemstones, ranking 9 on the Mohs scale.
- Kyanite has perfect cleavage that makes it prone to splitting, while sapphire has none, so it can take a sharper and clearer polish on its surface.
- When it comes to value, kyanite is an affordable gemstone, while sapphire is one of the most sought-after precious stones, making it more valuable and expensive.
As we have seen, each of these stones is unique and beautiful in its own way and has a great potential in jewelry design. Other gemstones that can be mixed up with kyanite are iolite, tanzanite, spinel, forsterite and other blue gemstones. It’s always recommended to consult with an expert if you want to identify the stone.
Kyanite is a beautiful alternative to blue sapphires, though the designs in jewelry are limited due to its structure and lower demand. You’ll rarely encounter the gemstone in a typical jewelry store, so we looked for stunning kyanite jewelry pieces that can be bought online:
Kyanite and Aquamarine Earrings by AF Jewelers. See them here.
You’ll often see kyanites as cabochon studs rather than faceted stones. In drop and dangling earrings, the gem is often found in its rough form, while some designs are fashioned in elongated beads. Since most of the designs have an earthy and organic appeal, they’re perfect for those who have a bohemian style. However, you can also find other sophisticated designs which feature kyanite for a classic look.
Kyanite Halo Necklace by Jade Peony. See it here.
In necklace pendants, a faceted kyanite can rival the beauty of a sapphire gem, especially when it’s surrounded with diamonds. Some jewelry designers take advantage of its rough, blade-like structure in pendants, secured by metal wires. If the gem is of high quality, it can also be incorporated in clustered designs, including fruit and floral themes.
Kyanite-Ruby Bangle by Dazzle Silver Jewelry. See it here.
Kyanite bead bracelets are common, particularly Japanese juzu—a bracelet consisting of small beads used in prayers. Some kyanite stones are used as bracelet charms. Stylish cuffs, tennis bracelets and bangles featuring kyanite are an excellent option when you want a classic look.
Alternative Engagement Ring by Etty Jewelry. See it here.
Kyanite rings, when crafted well, are stunning, adding the perfect pop of color to your look. These rings are typically set in bezel or halo settings, adding that extra layer of protection which they require. For a non-traditional option, you can choose kyanite engagement rings but ensure that you’re prepared to give it the attention it requires.
Sterling Silver Brooch by Bociso Art Jewelry. See it here.
If you want to add a touch of vintage to your style, think of kyanite brooches. The designs might be limited, but the gemstone can be a great option for that pop of color and sparkle.
Meaning and Symbolism of Kyanite
Kyanite is believed to be a powerful stone—and different colors are said to have different meanings.
Blue kyanites are associated with tranquility and balance, bringing peace and relaxation to the wearer. In some contexts, it can also help in clearing the mind, developing intuition and dissolving anger and frustration.
Orange varieties stand for vitality, while black kyanites are believed to have protective properties against negative emotions and evil influences. In meditation, kyanite is often worn near the throat chakra and is believed to help in searching for inner peace.
Even if it’s not a birthstone, it’s associated with the astrological sign of Taurus, making kyanite jewelry a perfect gift for Taureans who love comfort and luxury. It’s also said that kyanite inspires loyalty, honesty, and encourages self-expression.
Blue is one of the rarest colors in nature, making kyanite an exotic choice for jewelry. It’s versatile enough to complement your style, from casual to elegant and bohemian. What’s more, it’s a stunning, inexpensive alternative to sapphires!