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March-April 2011

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The History of Kunzite and the California Connection

What is history all about if not the exquisite delight of knowing the details, and not only the abstract patterns?

—Stephen Jay Gould (1991, Bully for Brontosaurus)

A number of articles have been written about the history of kunzite (e.g., Anon. [1904, 1962] and Conklin [1987]), but they tell only parts of the story. The “discovery” of kunzite, as typically told, is not simply the discovery of red-blue-hued spodumene, but the unearthing of such a quantity and quality of the material as to warrant the promotion of it as a “new gem.” This article broadens that history to include the occurrences of reddish to pink to amethystine spodumene and synthesizes much of the information available regarding significant localities and finds since the variety's description. New information on recent finds is also given.

After a twenty-year career as a museum curator in Canada and the United States, Mark Mauthner is now devoting his time to professional freelance photography, writing, and assisting at the Oceanview mine in San Diego County, California. He is a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals.

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