Gem Feature – Sodalite

The beads ending each tendril on this
pendant are sodalite. Note the
beautiful variation in color and
veining. (For sale here.)

Sodalite features a wide range of uses in jewelry, but also a fascinating history and metaphysical role as well.

Usually blue, though it can range between grey, yellow, green or pink, sodalite more often than not contrasts the beautiful colors with white streaks or patches of calcite. Despite its beauty, it wasn’t used in jewelry until about 1891, which is when the first large deposits were found.

Interesting Variations and Formation Story
Sodalite is a mineral usually found in areas of igneous rocks, which indicates that it was formed from cooling lava or magma. It often gets confused with lapis lazui, and with good reason. Sodalite actually makes up the blue part of lapis. The only difference is that lapis has flecks of pyrite in it, while sodalite does not.

One type of soladite is Hackmanite. Besides being fun to say, especially while in the midst of a chest cold, it changes color when exposed to sunlight. Some varieties will lose its violet color, resulting in a grey or green-tinged white color, while others will actually gain more violet and pink color when left in the sun. If left in a dark area, those purples and pinks will fade, resulting in a white stone again.

Unfortunately, hackmanite tends to be very expensive, because it’s so rare.

SCIENCE!

Metaphysical Uses
Because of its blue color, sodalite is seen as a very healing, calming stone. Likewise, it’s also commonly associated with the throat chakra, and is said to help with self expression as well as improve thyroid function.


Some folks believe it also encourages truthful discourse, as well as balancing the subconscious with the conscious mind. These properties, in addition to it’s ability to boost confidence, aligns it with the astrological sign, Sagittarius. There are also some who associate it with Virgo.

History

Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer.
[Public Domain], via WikiMedia Commons

In addition to ornamental and religious uses, sodalite was also a primary ingredient in making the highly valued ultramarine pigment. Carefully ground into powder and processed into paint, this pigment created a stunning, rich blue highly sought after by painters.

An example many people might recognize is in the painting, Girl With a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer. However, there are examples predating that piece from China and other areas.

Sodalite is actually one of my favorite stones to work with, in part because of it’s lovely blue color. I also love how the white veining looks and the texture of the gem under my fingers.

I’m not alone in that, either. Princess Patricia, Britain’s Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, loved it so much that she insisted in using it as decoration for Marlborough House.

This is a truly stunning stone with an interesting history.

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