This article deals with one of the most deceptive stones. The name “apatite” was offered by A. Verner in 1786. In Greek apathao means “I cheat”, “I mislead”. Such associations were caused by a variety of forms of apatite crystals. First, this stone was confused with other minerals – andalusite, beryl, tourmaline and many others.
This mineral is formed in most igneous and sedimentary rocks, in their cracks and voids in particular. It can be also found in the veins of the alpine rocks. In its composition, apatite is calcium phosphate, alloy of iron, manganese, strontium, thorium or aluminum. This stone is formed as colorless, white, yellowish, reddish, blue or green prismatic crystals. Short-columnar, long-columnar or tabular lumps may be accrued or ingrown, of a radiant, round, kidney-shaped or solid structure. Apatite stones are rather brittle, with a vitreous luster and shell-like fracture.
In nature there are apatite crystals of white, yellow, bluish or green, purple and aquamarine colors. Apatite stone in pure form is colorless or pale – any color changes are caused by various impurities and mineral pigments. A type of yellowish-green apatite, which was given the name “asparagus stone”, was first found in the South-Eastern Spain, in Murcia. Apatite is also known as “moroxite”, which was first used for crystals of blue or bluish-green color. Such stones were brought from Arendal (Norway).
Deposits of apatite
Purple stones are mined in Saxony, in the canton of Ticino (Switzerland), as well as in Auburn (Maine, USA). Apatite of blue or bluish-green color can be found in the gravels of Ceylon, and the ruby mines in Magoki (Burma). Aquamarine stones were brought from Ajmer and Devady in India. Apatite of yellow color is mined in Mexico. Today there are deposits of apatite in Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Spain, Finland and Norway, on the Kola Peninsula and in the Trans-Baikal region. It is known that rare “cat’s eye” apatites are mined in Myanmar and Brazil. But the largest gem-quality apatite crystal was found in Kenya. Its weight was 147 carats.
Use of apatite
This stone is interesting to collectors, in particular well-faceted, transparent or translucent crystals that are found individually or growing into other rocks. Crystals up to 20 carats are of extreme collectible interest. Apatite is also used in industry such as manufacture of ceramic or glass, production of phosphate fertilizers or acids, and also in ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy. Apatite is rarely used by jewelers, as the stone is very fragile. But it is possible to see stones up to 5 carats in jewelry. Apatite can be often found in exclusive products – such as decorative items for the interior, as well as in the panels and mosaics of natural stone.