This week we look at one of the lesser-known gemstones but one that is truly stunning and yet also described as ‘deceitful’! The term Apatite refers to a family of gemstones, one of which is Fluorapatite. It is this member of the family that is usually just called Apatite. It comes in a range of colours, but blue is the most common followed by green and colourless.
Apatite is often mistaken for Tourmaline due to similarities in structure, clarity etc, however it’s a lot softer. It can be opaque, translucent, or transparent. Its colours range from blue to green, white to yellow, and brown to violet! In recent times blue Apatite from Scandinavia and green Apatite from Canada have increased in popularity whilst yellow Apatite from Brazil has declined in popularity.
Brazil, Canada, India, Madagascar, and Mexico produce most Apatite with most notable sources, organized by colour, include the following:
Blue: Brazil, Myanmar, Sri Lanka.
Blue-green: Madagascar (neon blue-green), Norway (Moroxite variety), South Africa, Sweden.
Violet: Germany, Portugal, USA.
Yellow: Brazil, Canada; Mexico, Spain.
Green: Canada (Trilliumite), India, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Portugal, Spain.
Clear: Germany, Italy, Myanmar.
Cat’s Eye: Brazil, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Tanzania.
Lazurapatite, a mixture of Lapis Lazuli and Apatite, occurs only in Siberia.
The name Apatite (German ‘Apatit’) was invented by A.G. Werner in the mid-1780s, which he derived from the Greek verb ‘apatáō’ which means ‘to deceive’. At the time he wrote "until now it has misled all mineralogists in its identification". In fact until then, many people mistook it for other minerals such as Tourmaline, Peridot and Beryl.
Apatite is the most common phosphate mineral and is the main source of the phosphorus required by plants. The bones and teeth of most animals, including humans, are composed of calcium phosphate, which is the same material as Apatite. (These biological Apatites are almost exclusively the Hydroxylapatite type).
Since Apatites are relatively soft stones (only 5 on the MOHs scale), skilled faceters can add a premium to their value with exceptional polishes. Aside from a destructive scratch test to determine hardness, distinguishing faceted Apatites from Tourmalines can sometimes prove challenging. Many of their properties overlap.
Apatite is said to be a stone of manifestation that will show one how to turn one’s ideas into reality and get the results that one desires. It is believed that it will stimulate one’s psychic gifts and enhance one’s spiritual attunement, whilst deepening one’s meditative experience and helping in one’s communication at all levels.