Often called "The Purple Turquoise" sugilite is actually not a turquoise at all.
It was first discovered in Japan in 1944 and was named after the man that discovered it; Ken-ichi Sigi. The first specimens were a yellow color and not purple at all. Therefore it was not considered to be of much value.
In 1955 a pink sugilite was found in India. It was not very interesting and again not considered to be of much value.
Things changed in 1975 when a thin vein of sugilite was found in a core-drill sample from a manganese mine near Hotazel, South Africa. This stone was very purple in color because of the manganese content. This vein did not produce much rock but it was enough to be considered the first source of gem quality sugilite.
In 1979, a massive deposit estimated at 10-20 tons was found near Hotazel. This deposit is located 3200 feet underground and is very hard to mine. At this location a very rare find of translucent sugilite was found and called "sugilite gel". This is a very rare and valuable stone.
During my travels, I hear from the rock hounds and the vendors the term "Old Sugilite" and "New Sugilite". All I could gather is that "old" is more desirable than "new", although all sugilite is collectable and rare to find.
I recently met a South African woman at a gem show. She had the rough sugilite stone below for sale.
She called it "Old Sugilite". I asked her why I kept hearing this "old" and "new" reference out there. She explained that the mine at Hotazel is always under turmoil and the land is under the control of gangs and bad people that have pretty much closed the mine. Hardly anything is coming out of it now and the same has been for many years. No one knows if it will ever be operational again. Due to the technical difficulty in extracting the gemstone from the mine, most of the vein remains underground. "Old Sugilite" is rock that came from this mine in the past and it is highly sought after. It is known to be of the darkest grape jelly color. The darker, the better.
I did not purchase the stone above. It was several hundred dollars and I do not know how to do lapidary work, but I kind of regret leaving it behind.
"New" suglite comes from mines that were discovered later, some in other countries such as Madhya Pradesh, India, New South Wales, Australia; Canada and Italy; Tajikistan
This sugilite is still beautiful but is not as intense in color. It is still highly collected.
I recently found these to rings in "Old Sugilite" at a gem show. They were sold to become part of a personal collection within hours of becoming available on my website.
Sugilite gemstones range in color from pink to lilac, lavender, magenta, deep red-purple and blue-purple. They can be solid and uniform in color or have a mottled or blotched appearance. They can be veined or layered. They can also have matrix (host rock) which is often times black. Sugilite can also contain yellow, red, light purple or white patches. The most desirable color is a rather uniform red-purple color. Stones with interesting or attractive color patterns or matrix designs will command high prices as well.
Here is a translucent sugilite that I found on eBay. I think the seller was called rocksandgems2. Isn't is gorgeous?
Here are some pieces that I have available on my website now. I sure don't find it as often as I would like to.
So when it comes to collecting jewelry with bright purple sugilite, the earliest pieces found will have been made in in the early 1980s. These will likely be "Old Sugilite". You will see pieces created by Native American artists as well as companies such as Jay King. For me at this point, I will purchase any piece that is well made with good quality stones, but my most highly prized will always be Native American. It is just too hard to find.
I am very excited to have had the opportunity to purchase these estate pieces recently. One my my favorite pickers sent me a text a few weeks ago with a photo of this collection and asked me what this bright purple stone was. I wanted to scream with joy!!! I was so happy to be able to meet with him in time to secure them for my website. These pieces will go live tonight.
Please know that I am always on the lookout for good sugilite. I have learned that several of you that collect this rich purple stone. I have not begun to collect it...yet. If there is a particular piece that you are looking for, please contact me at Linda@yourgreatfinds.net and I will be happy to look for you.