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Purplite? Purple bead material seen in China


#1

I just got back from a bead buying trip to China. A number of
vendors showed a purple bead material that was, they say, a natural
stone from South Africa.

The purple was similar to sugilite or charoite. The color and
composition varied from bead to bead and from vendor to vendor. It
did not appear to be synthetic “block” material but it could have
been stabalized. The name was consistant, either purpleite or
purplite. In searching mineral websites the only likely stone
seemed to be Stichtite - a soft stone. It was more expensive than
"basic" stone beads but not as expensive as good sugilite or
charoite.

I bought a few strands that will arrive in a few days. I can post a
picure on my website and post a link here. I don’t see a way to post
a picture to ganoksin. Although I’ve searched the orchid archives
for some time, this is my first post.

Thanks for any 
Russ (Rings & Things - Spokane WA - USA)

<edit>
To share files use the Orchid FTP . http://www.ganoksin.com/ftp/
Ton
</edit>

#2

Russ - There is a mineral called purpurite - see
http://mineral.galleries.com/minerals/phosphat/purpurit/purpurit.htm

As I understand it it is not suitable for lapidary but I have seen
cabs labelled purpurite. They don’t seem to be the same color as the
mineral specimens (sort of magenta) so I’m not sure, but there may be
another form of purpurite that is more easily cabbed.

Debby


#3

Russ - I think it likely that the mineral is purpurite, manganese
iron phosphate.

Jim Small
Small Wonders Lapidary


#4

Hi I bought some Purpurite at Tuscon this year for ten dollars (a
couple of chunks) The guy said it came from Namibia. I sawed it on
my lap saw and it cut ok. Then I polished it (faceting lap and gem
carving style) and it lost all it’s purple colour–it went dark
brown/black. I tried sandblasting it,sanding it, oiling it and
vacuuming it in polyester resin but I was not successful in keeping
the original purple colour-- I chucked it in my ‘future to do’ box
Like to know how to work it and keep the colour, if someone knows…
Cheers, Hans Meevis


#5

Jim, I believe you are correct about the spelling and content. I
purchased a fairly large amount of this material from a gentleman at
a show in MD a number of years ago…he had 6 or 8 55 gal drums of
the stuff. I have cut a couple of stones over the years and used it
as inlay (it is good inlay material). It is indeed about a 5.5 or 6
in hardness I believe and fairly pourous but it polishes nicely.
Still have several lbs of it laying around somewhere.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut2