Collectors love kunzite for its color range, from delicate pastel pink to intense violetish purple.
Kunzite is the best-known variety of the mineral spodumene. It's named after famed gemologist George Frederick Kunz, who was the first to identify it as a unique variety of spodumene. Kunzite gets its delicate color from trace amounts of manganese.
A relative newcomer to the gemstone stage, kunzite was only confirmed as a unique variety of spodumene in the early part of the twentieth century. It's found in Afghanistan, Brazil, Madagascar, and the US state of California.
Kunzite has two perfect cleavage directions. It's pleochroic, with the best color visible when you look down the length of the crystal. Cutters keep these factors in mind when they orient gems for finishing. They might also cut a kunzite deep to emphasize its pink to violet color.
It is not unusual to find kunzite in large sizes. The Smithsonian Institution houses a faceted heart-shaped kunzite that weighs 880 carats.
Kunzite can be irradiated and then heat-treated to enhance its color. Both treated and natural color in kunzite can fade with exposure to heat and bright light.