Last updated
Category Phosphate minerals
(repeating unit)
AlPO4 · 2H2O
IMA symbol Var [1]
Strunz classification 8.CD.10
Crystal system Orthorhombic
Crystal class Dipyramidal (mmm)
H-M symbol: (2/m 2/m 2/m)
Space group Pbca
ColorPale to emerald-green (pale green in transmitted light), green, blue green, yellow green, pale shades of brown or yellow, rarely red and colourless to white
Crystal habit Encrustations and reniform masses
Cleavage [010] perfect
Fracture Conchoidal to splintery
Mohs scale hardness4.5
Luster Vitreous to waxy
Streak White
Diaphaneity Transparent to translucent
Specific gravity 2.57 to 2.61
Optical propertiesBiaxial (-)
Refractive index nα = 1.563 nβ = 1.588 nγ = 1.594
Birefringence δ = 0.031
References [2] [3] [4]

Variscite is a hydrated aluminium phosphate mineral (AlPO4 · 2H2O). It is a relatively rare phosphate mineral. It is sometimes confused with turquoise; however, variscite is usually greener in color. The green color results from the presence of small amounts of trivalent chromium (Cr3+
). [5]



Variscite is a secondary mineral formed by direct deposition from phosphate-bearing water that has reacted with aluminium-rich rocks in a near-surface environment. [6] It occurs as fine-grained masses in nodules, cavity fillings, and crusts. Variscite often contains white veins of the calcium aluminium phosphate mineral crandallite.

It was first described in 1837 and named for the locality of Variscia, the historical name of the Vogtland, in Germany. At one time, variscite was called Utahlite. At times, materials which may be turquoise or may be variscite have been marketed as "variquoise". Appreciation of the color ranges typically found in variscite have made it a popular gem in recent years. [7]

Variscite from Nevada typically contains black spiderwebbing in the matrix and is often confused with green turquoise. Most of the Nevada variscite recovered in recent decades has come from mines located in Lander County [8] and Esmeralda County, specifically in the Candelaria Hills.

Notable localities are Lucin, Snowville, and Fairfield in Utah, United States. Most recently found in Wyoming as well. It is also found in Germany, Australia, Poland, Spain [9] and Brazil.


Variscite has been used in Europe to make personal ornaments, especially beads, since Neolithic times. Its use continued during the Bronze Age and in Roman times, although it was not until the 19th century that it was determined that all the variscite used in Europe came from three sites in Spain, Gavá (Barcelona), Palazuelo de las Cuevas (Zamora), and Encinasola (Huelva). [10]

Variscite is sometimes used as a semi-precious stone, and is popular for carvings and ornamental use due to its beautiful and intense green color, and is commonly used in silversmithing in place of turquoise. Variscite is more rare and less common than turquoise, but because it is not as commonly available as turquoise or as well known to the general public, raw variscite tends to be less expensive than turquoise. [7] [5] [11]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Amblygonite</span>

Amblygonite is a fluorophosphate mineral, (Li,Na)AlPO4(F,OH), composed of lithium, sodium, aluminium, phosphate, fluoride and hydroxide. The mineral occurs in pegmatite deposits and is easily mistaken for albite and other feldspars. Its density, cleavage and flame test for lithium are diagnostic. Amblygonite forms a series with montebrasite, the low fluorine endmember. Geologic occurrence is in granite pegmatites, high-temperature tin veins, and greisens. Amblygonite occurs with spodumene, apatite, lepidolite, tourmaline, and other lithium-bearing minerals in pegmatite veins. It contains about 10% lithium, and has been utilized as a source of lithium. The chief commercial sources have historically been the deposits of California and France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prehnite</span>

Prehnite is an inosilicate of calcium and aluminium with the formula: Ca2Al(AlSi3O10)(OH)2. Limited Fe3+ substitutes for aluminium in the structure. Prehnite crystallizes in the orthorhombic crystal system, and most often forms as stalactitic or botryoidal aggregates, with only just the crests of small crystals showing any faces, which are almost always curved or composite. Very rarely will it form distinct, well-individualized crystals showing a square-like cross-section, including those found at the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec, Canada. Prehnite is brittle with an uneven fracture and a vitreous to pearly luster. Its hardness is 6-6.5, its specific gravity is 2.80-2.90 and its color varies from light green to yellow, but also colorless, blue, pink or white. In April 2000, rare orange prehnite was discovered in the Kalahari Manganese Fields, South Africa. Prehnite is mostly translucent, and rarely transparent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Turquoise</span> Opaque, blue-to-green mineral

Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral that is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminium, with the chemical formula CuAl6(PO4)4(OH)8 · 4H2O. It is rare and valuable in finer grades and has been prized as a gemstone and ornamental stone for thousands of years owing to its unique hue. Like most other opaque gems, turquoise has been devalued by the introduction of treatments, imitations and synthetics into the market. The robin egg blue or sky blue color of the Persian turquoise mined near the modern city of Nishapur in Iran has been used as a guiding reference for evaluating turquoise quality.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Smoky quartz</span> Mineral, quartz variety

Smoky quartz is a brownish grey, translucent variety of quartz that ranges in clarity from almost complete transparency to an almost-opaque brownish-gray or black crystals. The color of smoky quartz is produced when natural radiation, emitted from the surrounding rock, activates color centers around aluminum impurities within the crystalline quartz.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chrysocolla</span> Phyllosilicate mineral

Chrysocolla is a hydrated copper phyllosilicate mineral and mineraloid with formula Cu
(x<1) or (Cu,Al)

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Torbernite</span> Copper uranyl phosphate mineral

Torbernite is a radioactive, hydrated green copper uranyl phosphate mineral, found in granites and other uranium-bearing deposits as a secondary mineral. Its name derives from the Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman (1735–1784), It is also known as chalcolite. Torbernite is isostructural with the related uranium mineral, autunite.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wardite</span>

Wardite is a hydrous sodium aluminium phosphate hydroxide mineral with formula: NaAl3(PO4)2(OH)4·2(H2O). Wardite is of interest for its rare crystallography. It crystallizes in the tetragonal trapezohedral class and is one of only a few minerals in that class. Wardite forms vitreous green to bluish green to white to colorless crystals, masses, and fibrous encrustations. It has a Mohs hardness of 5 and a specific gravity of 2.81–2.87.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brazilianite</span>

Brazilianite, whose name derives from its country of origin, Brazil, is a typically yellow-green phosphate mineral, most commonly found in phosphate-rich pegmatites.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alunite</span> Aluminium potassium sulfate mineral

Alunite is a hydroxylated aluminium potassium sulfate mineral, formula KAl3(SO4)2(OH)6. It was first observed in the 15th century at Tolfa, near Rome, where it was mined for the manufacture of alum. First called aluminilite by J.C. Delamétherie in 1797, this name was contracted by François Beudant three decades later to alunite.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Adamite</span>

Adamite is a zinc arsenate hydroxide mineral, Zn2AsO4OH. It is a mineral that typically occurs in the oxidized or weathered zone above zinc ore occurrences. Pure adamite is colorless, but usually it possess yellow color due to Fe compounds admixture. Tints of green also occur and are connected with copper substitutions in the mineral structure. Olivenite is a copper arsenate that is isostructural with adamite and there is considerable substitution between zinc and copper resulting in an intermediate called cuproadamite. Zincolivenite is a recently discovered mineral being an intermediate mineral with formula CuZn(AsO4)(OH). Manganese, cobalt, and nickel also substitute in the structure. An analogous zinc phosphate, tarbuttite, is known.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vesuvianite</span> Silicate mineral

Vesuvianite, also known as idocrase, is a green, brown, yellow, or blue silicate mineral. Vesuvianite occurs as tetragonal crystals in skarn deposits and limestones that have been subjected to contact metamorphism. It was first discovered within included blocks or adjacent to lavas on Mount Vesuvius, hence its name. Attractive-looking crystals are sometimes cut as gemstones. Localities which have yielded fine crystallized specimens include Mount Vesuvius and the Ala Valley near Turin, Piedmont.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grossular</span> Garnet, nesosilicate mineral

Grossular is a calcium-aluminium species of the garnet group of minerals. It has the chemical formula of Ca3Al2(SiO4)3 but the calcium may, in part, be replaced by ferrous iron and the aluminium by ferric iron. The name grossular is derived from the botanical name for the gooseberry, grossularia, in reference to the green garnet of this composition that is found in Siberia. Other shades include cinnamon brown (cinnamon stone variety), red, and yellow. Grossular is a gemstone.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wavellite</span> Aluminium phosphate basic hydrate mineral

Wavellite is an aluminium basic phosphate mineral with formula Al3(PO4)2(OH, F)3·5H2O. Distinct crystals are rare, and it normally occurs as translucent green radial or spherical clusters.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aheylite</span>

Aheylite is a rare phosphate mineral with formula (Fe2+Zn)Al6[(OH)4|(PO4)2]2·4(H2O). It occurs as pale blue to pale green triclinic crystal masses. Aheylite was made the newest member of the turquoise group in 1984 by International Mineralogical Association Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Howlite</span>

Howlite, a calcium borosilicate hydroxide (Ca2B5SiO9(OH)5), is a borate mineral found in evaporite deposits.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jeremejevite</span>

Jeremejevite is an aluminium borate mineral with variable fluoride and hydroxide ions. Its chemical formula is Al6B5O15(F,OH)3. It is considered as one of the rarest, thus one of the most expensive stones. For nearly a century, it was considered as one of the rarest gemstones in the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fluellite</span>

Fluellite is a mineral with the chemical formula Al2(PO4)F2(OH)•7H2O. The name is from its chemical composition, being a fluate of alumine (French).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plumbogummite</span> Alunite supergroup, phosphate mineral

Plumbogummite is a rare secondary lead phosphate mineral, belonging to the alunite supergroup of minerals, crandallite subgroup. Some other members of this subgroup are:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Grandidierite</span>

Grandidierite is a rare mineral that was first discovered in 1902 in southern Madagascar. The mineral was named in honor of French explorer Alfred Grandidier (1836–1912) who studied the natural history of Madagascar.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chiolite</span> Dipyramidal mineral

Chiolite is a tetragonal-ditetragonal dipyramidal mineral, composed of sodium, fluorine, and aluminium. The name originates from the combination of the Greek words for snow (χιώυ) and stone (λίθος). It is an allusion to its similarity and appearance to cryolite. Chiolite is an IMA approved mineral that has been grandfathered, meaning the name chiolite is believed to refer to a valid species to this day. Synonyms of chiolite are arksudite, arksutite, chodneffite, chodnewite and nipholith. It was first discovered in the Ilmen mountains, Russia, in 1846. Chiolite has been a valid species from the same year of its discovery.


  1. Warr, L. N. (2021). "IMA–CNMNC approved mineral symbols". Mineralogical Magazine . Vol. 85, no. 3. Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland. pp. 291–320. Bibcode:2021MinM...85..291W. doi: 10.1180/mgm.2021.43 . S2CID   235729616.
  2. "Variscite" (PDF). Handbook of Mineralogy. RRUFF Project.
  3. Variscite,
  4. Variscite Mineral Data,
  5. 1 2 "Variscite Gemstone Information".
  6. Roncal-Herrero, T.; Rodríguez-Blanco, J. D.; Benning, L. G.; Oelkers, E. H. (2009). "Precipitation of Iron and Aluminum Phosphates Directly from Aqueous Solution as a Function of Temperature from 50 to 200 °C". Crystal Growth & Design. 9 (12): 5197–5205. doi:10.1021/cg900654m.
  7. 1 2 Minerals of Nevada - Nevada Bureau of Mines Special Pub. 31 University of Nevada Press, 2004 Pages 78-81
  8. Gemstones of North America Volume III by John Sinkankas - Geoscience Press 1997
  9. "".
  10. Calvo Rebollar, Miguel (2015). Minerales y Minas de España. Vol. VII. Fosfatos, Arseniatos y Vanadatos (in Spanish). Madrid: Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros de Minas de Madrid. Fundación Gómez Pardo. pp. 260–276.
  11. "Variscite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information - International Gem Society".