Anhydrite is a pale, translucent crystal also known as angelite. Is anhydrite a gemstone? It sure is! You’ll usually see it in carvings more than faceted jewelry, though.
On that note, is anhydrite rare or common? As a mineral, it’s somewhat common but hard to find because it easily alters into a different mineral. Gem-quality anhydrite is very rare.
What color is anhydrite? Usually, the crystals and gems for sale are glacier-blue or lilac, with snowy specks. When transparent, the stone can also be colorless or purple. Translucent stones can be white, tan, gray, rose, or lilac.
Interested in shopping for anhydrite jewelry? Check out this guide to learn what to look for, along with anhydrite’s healing uses, meaning, prices, and more!
Anhydrite is a soft-colored semi-precious gemstone. Though some consider “angelite” a synonym, others consider angelite a bluish-gray anhydrite variety from Peru.
When referred to as a variety, angelite may also be called “blue anhydrite.” For this article, we’ll use “angelite” as a synonym for anhydrite in a broad sense but as a variety name when discussing gemstone specifics.
Astrologically, the crystal is a zodiac stone for Aquarius. The benefits of angelite for Aquarius encompass easing tension and stubbornness, replacing these feelings with empathy and inner peace.
Outside of astrology and gemstone purposes, what is anhydrite used for? Industrial uses for anhydrite include:
Drying additive in varnish, cement, paint, and plaster
Ingredient (with gypsum) for wallboards and plaster
Source of sulfur for making sulfuric acid
Calcium-rich ingredient in soil treatments (when crushed)
Many industrial uses for anhydrite match those of gypsum. In fact, anhydrite is even better than gypsum for soil treatments because its lack of water means it has more calcium to give. But chemically, these two stones are basically siblings!
Pictured above: Gypsum selenite
Remember how we mentioned that anhydrite often alters into a different mineral? That mineral is gypsum!
Gypsum has the same composition as anhydrite with the addition of water. Therefore, when anhydrite gets wet, it changes into gypsum. Conversely, gypsum that becomes dehydrated can turn into anhydrite, though this is less common in nature.
Both anhydrite and gypsum are often white, with a white streak and glassy luster.
However, there are a few key differences between anhydrite vs. gypsum:
Rarity: Gypsum is much more common than anhydrite.
Hardness: Gypsum is slightly softer (2 on the Mohs scale) than anhydrite (3-3.5).
Water Content: As mentioned, gypsum contains water while anhydrite doesn’t.
Notably, a powder called “refined gypsum” is actually anhydrous (without water) and composed of about 30 percent calcium and 23.5 percent sulfur. For reference, pure gypsum has about 23 percent calcium and almost 19 percent sulfur.
Speaking of mineral properties…
The anhydrite mineral is a calcium sulfate with the formula CaSO4. Do anhydrite crystals have water? Nope, they’re anhydrous — this comes from the Greek anhydros, meaning “waterless.” Hence, the name!
Like the angel of its moniker, this stone is quite delicate. It’s very soft, only at 3-3.5 on the Mohs mineral hardness scale. Plus, its cleavage can split easily in 3 directions, so a sharp blow from any of these angles means a shattered or fragmented gem.
In fact, one nickname for anhydrite is “cube spar.” This moniker comes from the fact that the stone’s 90-degree cleavage angles can split, showing forms inside resembling cubes. However, anhydrite is orthorhombic, not cubic.
The mineral’s crystals are thick, prismatic, or tabular (thin, 4-sided). More often, anhydrite forms as fibrous veins that break into fragments along cleavages. It also commonly forms masses that are nodular (rounded with bulbous surfaces), massive, or grainy.
Here are the remaining anhydrite mineral properties:
Mohs hardness: 3-3.5
Color: Transparent stones - colorless, light blue, or violet; Translucent to opaque stones - white, tan, gray, rose, or mauve
Crystal structure: Orthorhombic
Luster: Pearly on , vitreous to greasy on , vitreous on ; Massive varieties - vitreous (glassy)
Transparency: Transparent to opaque
Refractive index: 1.57-1.61
Cleavage: Perfect, 3-directions, parallel to symmetry planes
Fracture: Uneven, splintery, or conchoidal
Luminescence: Sometimes fluorescent when heated; German material fluoresces red in LW-UV
Pleochroism: Present in violet crystals - violet, lilac/rose, and light yellow/colorless
There are three anhydrite types with trade names that aren’t necessarily varieties, but they’re important to know when shopping for this gem. We’ll also clear up confusion about angelite vs. celestite.
Angelite (also called angeline or angel stone) is a trade name for opaque sky-blue, gray-blue, or lilac anhydrite stones. They’re often speckled in white and may have dark red to brown flecks.
A much less celestial trade name, “bowel stone” refers to anhydrite in a folded concretion (compact mass). The folds resemble the folded intestines or bowels inside the human body. Sometimes, contorted concretions are called “tripe stones,” after the lining of a cow stomach is called tripe.
Vulpinite is a whitish-gray textured anhydrite from Volpino, Italy. This stone has a granular and scaly, yet marble-esque texture. It’s more popular locally in Volpino.
Image credit: Jar for Eye Paint (kohl) with Attached Stand, circa 1878 –1749 B.C.| Metropolitan Museum of Art
Blue “Egyptian” anhydrite is the most mysterious type. Ancient Egyptians used both white and polished blue anhydrite for ornamental purposes, but it’s still unclear where they got the blue material.
Celestite, or celestine, is a commonly clear to pale blue crystal. That means it shares both a similarly ethereal name and appearance with angelite.
But are celestite and angelite the same? Nope. They’re both orthorhombic, transparent to translucent, and 3-3.5 on the Mohs scale, but they’re entirely different minerals.
How are angelite (anhydrite) and celestite different?
Composition: Angelite is a calcium sulfate, while celestite is a strontium sulfate.
Density: Angelite is less dense (2.9-3.0) than celestite (3.9-4.0).
Despite the differences, angelite’s meaning is quite similar to that of celestite.
Image credit: Miniature Cippus (magical stela) with Horus in profile wearing gazelle head on the forehead MET DP112604 | Metropolitan Museum of Art
Nicknamed the “Stone of Awareness,” angelite symbolizes love, light, and spiritual awareness. Some believe the stone was gifted to humanity by angels, leading to the second nickname “Stone of Angelic Connection.”
The anhydrite crystal spiritual meaning isn’t all in the clouds, though — it’s believed to have balancing abilities, keeping you grounded while your spirit soars and explores.
Uses of anhydrite go back to antiquity. In ancient Egypt, white and blue anhydrite were popular for creating decor and ornamental items, like a 1938-1700 BCE pot for holding the eye cosmetic kohl currently in the Brooklyn Museum.
Anhydrite’s first discovery occurred in Austria at the Hall salt mine in 1794. Though gypsum was closer to the surface (around groundwater), anhydrite was deeper. German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werener named it “anhydrite” in 1804.
One obsolete name is muriacite, derived from the mistaken belief that it was a chloride (or muriate) mineral.
In the 20th century, one notable instance of anhydrite were the carvings of English sculptor Ophelia Gordon Bell. Commissioned by the United Sulphuric Acid Corporation, Bell created a relief carving of an anhydrite kiln made from anhydrite.
American gemologists John Ilmarii Koivula and R.C. Kammerling discovered angelite much later. Angelite’s discovery occurred in Machu Picchu, Peru, during the 1987 Harmonic Convergence, a global event of meditation for world peace.
The event was planned to coincide with a purportedly supernatural prophecy surrounding a rare (and real) alignment of 8 planets into a “grand trine.” (Think Hands Across America, but with more astrology and global participation.)
Much of angelite’s spiritual meaning ties to its discovery during this event. On that topic, what is angelite good for?
Blue gemstones like angelite are great for soothing and promoting communication. As such, angelite chakra stones are best for opening the throat chakra, allowing authentic understanding and expression of one’s self.
For physical and emotional healing, what does an anhydrite crystal do?
Crystal healers use anhydrite for aiding with:
Heart and circulation issues
Immune system function
Emotionally, anhydrite benefits can promote:
Sense of purpose
Additionally, the crystal is said to dispel any anger or worries, replacing it with acceptance, empathy, and self-understanding. It can aid mindfulness and living in the moment.
The objective value of anhydrite comes down to its color, cut, clarity, and transparency.
Anhydrite stones almost always have soft, light hues. The most valuable colors are pink, violet, or blue shades.
The white center and flecks on angelite occur because of gypsum or quartz inclusions, while other possible rust to brown speckling comes from hematite. The darker hues may lower angelite’s value.
Because it’s rare and difficult to cut precisely, faceted anhydrite isn’t common. Vulpinite and angelite are often cut as cabochons. Angelite, however, is most commonly carved. Peruvian carvings of angelite range from animal figurines and wands to eggs and spheres.
Clarity describes the number of visible inclusions in a gem, so it affects transparency. Anhydrite with higher transparency and better clarity is more valuable.
Common inclusions in anhydrite include intergrown crystals and multiphase cavities, or areas containing inclusions with different forms (i.e. liquid, solid, vapor).
Anhydrite is an evaporite, meaning a sedimentary mineral that forms when water evaporates from a marine or non-marine deposit. Usually, the mineral starts as gypsum which then dehydrates into anhydrite.
The mineral occurs in sedimentary deposits, igneous rocks, salt dome caps, and salt basins. It’s often around beds of gypsum, limestones, or basalt cavities.
Where is anhydrite found? Besides the early sources of Austria and Peru, anhydrite now also comes from:
USA (New York)
Despite its rarity, anhydrite comes at affordable prices!
Wholesale rates for anhydrite cabochons are around $0.10 per carat. Carvings range by artisanship and size, but they’re generally around $5 to $40 each. Prices for angelite raw are only $0.02-$0.10 per carat.
A beaded angelite bracelet ranges from $5 to $30 typically, though some reach around $60. Angelite pendants range from $5 to $90 depending on the seller, and beaded necklaces are a bit pricier at $60 to $150.
Once you find your favorite, how do you take care of angelite?
Proper gemstone care for anhydrite is of utmost importance. For one, it will absorb water quickly and easily, so it must be kept away from any kind of moisture or humidity. Plus, its softness and perfect cleavages make it easily susceptible to scratches and breakage.
We recommend only wearing anhydrite earrings or necklaces to avoid damage. For beaded strands, there must be substantial knots or protection between each bead. Always get anhydrite jewelry with protective settings.
It’s best to wear necklaces over fabric, rather than directly on skin, to prevent moisture from sweating. You can clean it with a soft, dust-free, and dry cloth.
Despite being fairly modern to most, anhydrite has become a stone of the heavens. This rarity reflects the clear skies of new opportunity, helping you embrace your true self while keeping you grounded to enjoy every moment!
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