Axinite is mainly known as a mineral group, and gem quality material is rarely found. Collectors are quite fond of gemstone quality Axinite because of its unusual crystal structure, its rarity, and its pleochroism. Axinite gems are typically light brown, but other colors such as light purple or red-brown can also occur. Another noteworthy fact about Axinite is that it is both pyroelectric and piezoelectric – meaning that it can generate electrical currents when it is heated or cooled quickly, or when pressure is applied to it. While these unusual properties have no specific applications in the gemstone and jewelry trade, it is these kinds of properties that allow Quartz to be used in the internal mechanisms of clocks and watches. Other gemstones or minerals with similar traits have also been used in a range of industrial applications.
Etymology & Sources
Axinite gets its name from the Greek ‘Axine’ which translates to ‘Axe’. This is possibly due to the sharp features that Axinite can have in its natural mineral form. Axinite can be found in a wide variety of locales around the world, and since Axinite is technically a group of minerals rather than a single type, different deposits often house different subcategories of the mineral.
Axinite is pleochroic, so it can display a variety of colors, but most commonly the gemstone variety is a light brown shade, and can resemble smoky quartz. However, Axinite gems can also range from blue or purple through to orange or yellow. Axinite can be transparent or translucent, but it is often found with inclusions, so transparent Axinite gems with high clarity are very rare, and it is generally accepted by gemstone enthusiasts that this variety of gemstone will almost always have some flaws. After gemstone quality Axinite is faceted and polished, it will display a vitreous luster.
Axinite is moderately hard, with a 6.5 or 7 on the Mohs scale. It has specific gravity of between 3.25 and 3.35, and has a refractive index of approximately 1.65 to 1.7.
Axinite is virtually unknown among the general public and typically can’t be found in jewelry stores – it is more of a collector’s gemstone. Most gem quality Axinite will be faceted into the normal gemstone shapes rather than cut en cabochon – this may be one way to distinguish it from the similar looking smoky quartz, which is often found in cabochon form. Shapes specifically used for jewelry like hearts or trillians (triangle cut) are more of a rarity with Axinite since it is rarely used in jewelry designs.
Ferro-Axinite – Axinite that has high iron content, typically purple, brown or black.
Magnesio-Axinite – Axinite that is rich with Magnesium, usually gray or blueish gray.
Manganaxinite – Axinite with high manganese content, can be range from yellow to orange. Quite rare.
Tinzinite – Surprisingly not Axinite with high Tin content – rather, it has a mix of manganese and iron within it and is usually yellow. Quite rare.
There are no common, industry standard treatments for Axinite.