Violite has been used as a trade name for both purple chalcedony,
which is much harder than what you describe, and copiapite, which
has a hardness of 2-3 and is too soft for jewelry use. I like weird
rockhound stuff, and I cut variscite, but I have never seen
variscite occur in conjunction with any purple mineral such as you
Variscite chips are known to turn purple when placed on a hot stove.
My sneaking suspicion is that what you were dealing with is
partially heat-treated variscite. If you want to experiment, you
could try heating some variscite cabs at one end and see if you can
duplicate the look of the stones in question.
Variscite is a fairly soft stone, much like turquoise. It could have
snapped due to being struck, or due to being under stress due to
some irregularity in the setting, or due to an internal fault in the
stone along the line of breakage.
Dos Manos Jewelry