Gem Profile Mar. 29: Unakite
by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com
Unakite (pronounced you-na-kite) is a beautiful green and salmon-pink metamorphic stone. Unakite is an altered form of granite, classified as an Epidote. Epidote is crystallized in a monoclinic system, and has a yellow-green in color. Unakite mixes that green epidote with pink orthoclase feldspar and colorless quartz, giving it the mottled or speckled appearance. Epidote comes from the Greek epidosis, or “growing together.” What perfect way to describe Unakite!
Metamorphic rocks are some of my favorite (I think I’ve said that before about another type of rock too…). The reason I like metamorphic rocks is because they start as one thing and end up as something else.
How Unakite Forms
In the case of Unakite, sand and rock were flooded by lava flowing over them, changing to granite through contact. Over time, this granite was also flooded by geothermic water, which dissolved the iron and changed some of the feldspar to epidote which is the green color. The salmon pink is potassium feldspar, and is also interspersed with quartz. So, what started out as sand and boulders, ended up as an epidote called Unakite! Isn’t metamorphosis fun!
How Unakite got its Name
So, how exactly did we decide on the name Unakite? Well, the first place it was found was near the Unaka Mountains of North Carolina and is pretty common in the Blue Ridge Mountains where it can be found in road cuts, streams, and rubble piles. You might come across unakite in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. It’s also found in the Shenandoah National Park and surrounding areas and has been found as far North as the shores of the Great Lakes! We’ve also found deposits of this epidote in South Africa, China, Brazil, and Canada.
Unakite is pretty easy to identify since it’s nearly the only rock that is both green and pink. It has a hardness of 6-7 and is generally used as cabochons and beads. Unakite does have perfect cleavage in one direction, so it doesn’t facet very well.
Unakite Metaphysical Properties
Unakite is used to bring positive feelings, build self-confidence and helps you take power over your own life. It also helps to focus your mind on the good and beautiful things in life helping to uncover deceit and can help you to transform fear and anger to compassion and love. If you’re expecting a baby, wearing unakite is said to promote healthy grown of the infant and protect the mother and baby from harm.
Go find it!
Road Trip! Because unakite is found in and around the Shenandoah National Forest and Blue Ridge Mountains, there are plenty of opportunities to rock hound, camp, hike fish and get in touch with nature. Unakite is still mined near Rockbridge, Virginia, near Vesuvius. You may want to check with the local USGS office in the area for a topographic map and as always, go prepared with water, eye protection, and make sure you don’t pick up unakite from any staked claims in the area. Better yet, just visit a rock shop and then go camping or fishing in the beautiful mountains!
Next week, we’ll be exploring Goldstone, the beautiful, sparkly gemstone that’s perfect beyond nature! Have you made jewelry with goldstone before, either brown goldstone or blue goldstone? Send pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org and they could be featured next week!
Resources & Recommended Reading
- Unakite on Central Michigan University
- Unakite Quarry
- Unakite Meaning
- USGS Geologic Map of the Shenandoah National Park Region, Virginia
- Unakite on Gemdat.org
- Unakite in Virginia
Gem Profile by Layna Palmer
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