Orthoclase is a tectosilicate mineral and potassium feldspar gemstone. It often comes naturally in deep brown shades, but its most coveted color is a unique champagne-yellow, paired with clean transparency.
Lemon quartz? Is that you? Not quite. You might mistake the orthoclase on today’s market for other yellow gemstones like lemon quartz, citrine, heliodor, and chrysoberyl. Orthoclase has more of a champagne tone, and orthoclase cleavage is perfect, setting it apart from the others. Plus, you’ll never find treated orthoclase stones.
The orthoclase uses are abundant, with this superstar of a gem offering extravagance when worn as jewelry, and simplicity in its use for ceramics. Its presence in smooth granite countertops combines both grandeur and practicality!
Nicknamed K-spar for its high potassium content, orthoclase offers abundant style, healing properties, and pragmatic uses.
Here at Gem Rock Auctions, we pride ourselves in being Australia’s top gemstone source for buyers, and the world’s one-stop shop for quality gemstones.
Today, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about orthoclase, from its uses and spiritual meaning to origins and value. Then, we’ll share how to get your hands on lovely orthoclase gemstones. Let’s get started with the orthoclase basics.
Orthoclase is a semi-precious gemstone primarily used in glass and ceramics; however, you’ll find some rarer specimens faceted into yellow stones that make impeccable pieces of jewelry.
The name might be a bit of a mouthful, so here’s the orthoclase pronunciation: OR-thuh-klays. Orthoclase is also the state gem for Florida!
You might hear orthoclase referred to as the “stone of cooperative effort.” Its energy reminds us of the importance of human connection and teamwork, similar to the jovial and social nature of the Sagittarius sign. In fact, orthoclase is an alternative zodiac stone for Sagittarius — these Archers can benefit from the stone’s purported assistance with productivity and self-confidence.
First, what type of gem is an orthoclase? Orthoclase is part of the feldspar mineral family. Like other feldspar varieties, orthoclase comes in colorless and pale forms and consists of potassium, sodium, calcium, and sodium. The streak of orthoclase is white, and its crystals grow as long slender prisms.
But wait: is orthoclase a mineral or gemstone? Technically, it’s a feldspar mineral, but certain varieties are fashioned into gemstones.
On the Mohs mineral hardness scale, orthoclase ranks a modest 6-6.5, making it sensitive to contact with other gemstones.
What are the physical properties of orthoclase, apart from composition and hardness? Check out the detailed list below:
Color: White, colorless, gray, green, yellow, orange, black, brown, pale pink
Crystal structure: Monoclinic; prismatic
Luster: Pearly, vitreous
Transparency: Wide range, transparent to opaque
Refractive index: 1.52-1.54
Cleavage: Perfect, 90 degrees
Fracture: Uneven; splintery
Luminescence: May be fluorescent & phosphorescent; Yellowish white in SW-UV, Red in LW-UV
Pleochroism: Rare, but some pleochroism for different shades of yellow in transparent yellow stones
There isn’t much information out there about orthoclase’s discovery. However, Ermenegildo Pini discovered its low-temperature rock variety adularia in the Adula Alps (or Rheinwaldhorn) of Switzerland in 1781!
The orthoclase gemstone has Greek etymological roots, stemming from the Greek word orthos, meaning “right.” Orthoclase’s root meaning refers to its perfect cleavage, at right (90-degree) angles. That tells us a lot about the stone’s literal meaning, but what does orthoclase symbolize on a spiritual level?
The orthoclase spiritual meaning is linked to strengthened connection, positive will, and cooperation. Intrigued? Let’s jump into the healing side of orthoclase properties.
Orthoclase is one of many healing stones that strengthen your connection with the earth and your intuition. Yellow gemstones have invigorating benefits, helping you wake up the energy within to tackle everything you’re faced with. The same goes for orthoclase!
What are the special properties of orthoclase when it comes to healing? Let’s find out!
Are you feeling sluggish lately? You might need to make some sleep schedule or dietary changes - but alongside any health advice that your doctor might offer, consider maximizing the vital, energy-boosting qualities of orthoclase!
What is orthoclase used for regarding our physical health?
Orthoclase is a great stone to keep on hand if you’re feeling the physical effects of burnout, be it from a heavy workload or otherwise packed schedule.
Other purported physical healing benefits include:
How about emotional benefits? Orthoclase has quite a few!
Have you ever lost someone close? Death is one of the most painful events you can go through, and the grief can feel debilitating. Connecting with loved ones and practicing self-care will help you cope with the pain, but sometimes you may feel inclined to shoulder the burden alone. If this sounds like you, an orthoclase gemstone can be a supportive companion.
Orthoclase is known to soothe the emotional pain of grief, helping you find acceptance and peace with a loved one’s death. The stone is also known to increase positivity and help you combat feelings of depression and anger.
Your chakras are your body’s seven wheels of flowing energy throughout your entire body and spirit, helping regulate your wellbeing. Like orthoclase, the Manipura (Sanskrit for solar plexus chakra) has a vibrating, bright yellow aura.
Have you been having a lot of negative thoughts about yourself lately? Struggling to find self-confidence and willpower? Your solar plexus chakra might be blocked.
Placing an orthoclase crystal on your stomach while you meditate may activate your chakra, promoting feelings of security, warmth, and playfulness that will help soothe negative emotions.
Certain gemstone properties speak to their value on the market. For orthoclase, color, cut, and clarity dictate its price in jewelry, along with its rarity.
But is orthoclase rare or common? Usually it’s rare, but certain varieties and colors are more common than others. Let’s explore those colors first.
An orthoclase gemstone may come in many different colors — from pale pink to golden yellow. And, orthoclase stone pricing varies depending on the color.
The champagne-yellow varieties tend to cost the most, but we’ll get to exact pricing later. Pale pink varieties are usually moonstones and aren’t as expensive. You might also find raw orthoclase stones in cloudy yellow and brown, both of which make the stone less objectively valuable. Finally, one of the highest-value colors is undoubtedly the rare, greenish-yellow orthoclase stone.
You may notice different prices on the market for orthoclase in different shapes. That’s because the cut is also an important value factor.
Orthoclase often has perfect cleavage, making it a dream gig for most lapidarists (gem-cutters). Faceted cuts are easier when stones have right-angled planes like orthoclase, but don’t be fooled by the cut’s ease.
Lapidarists use the finest orthoclase specimens for their faceted cuts to showcase the shine and sparkle of the golden, near-transparent varieties. These gems often show pleochroism in different yellow shades, making them more expensive.
Cabochon cuts are more common for orthoclase in colors that command less value, like brown and pale pink. You may also find untouched, raw orthoclase - but those tend to be priced lower than the coveted faceted cuts.
The Japanese have a special pottery repair technique called Kintsugi, where they fill the cracks of a bowl or glass with powdered gold. The result is a piece of pottery with a liberal, golden crack along its body, offering it a unique character. Gemstone inclusions look similar, with different colored lines of other materials appearing within the gem.
However, inclusions don’t have the same appeal as kintsugi in the gemstone market; instead, they often lower value and the same goes for orthoclase.
The highest-value orthoclase crystals are completely or nearly transparent, with no inclusions (called “eye-clean” in gemology). These traits are common in the expensive champagne stones adorning orthoclase jewelry. However, some lower-value orthoclase contains inclusions of quartz and plagioclase.
Before lava turns into the deathly liquid that spurts from a volcano, it’s a molten rock mixture known as magma.
Melted rocks form magma, and then the magma crystallizes into igneous rock. Before crystallization though, we know that the magma mixture contains gas and minerals, like orthoclase. Orthoclase forms when magma crystallizes into igneous rocks like granite, making orthoclase a common ingredient in many igneous rocks.
More specifically, what is orthoclase found in? Orthoclase crystal is often found within other feldspars like moonstone and igneous rocks like andesite, granite, and rhyolite.
The main source of orthoclase is one specific igneous rock called pegmatite — a coarse, gray-ish pink volcanic rock that also contains quartz and mica.
But earthly beginnings aren’t the only starting points for orthoclase rocks! Traces of this extra-terrestrial mineral have been found within sands brought back to Earth from astronaut missions to the moon!
The clear, strikingly yellow orthoclase gemstones we know and love are often sourced from gem gravels in Burma and Sri Lanka. However, those aren’t the only places you can find high-quality orthoclase stones. Other sources include:
North America: Many localities within the US and Canada are sources of orthoclase.
Switzerland: The St. Gotthard Region is home to many fine orthoclase crystals.
Madagascar: The large crystal beds of the Itrongahy region contain some of the biggest, clear yellow orthoclase gems. A large, 250-carat orthoclase gemstone from Madagascar currently sits in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History!
Greenland: You can find transparent crystals here, but brown gemstone varieties of orthoclase are more common.
Norway: A gorgeous red-orange variety of orthoclase, known as orthoclase sunstone, is mined from Tvedestrand, Norway.
Russia: Russia isn’t a significant orthoclase source but deserves an honorable mention because a giant orthoclase crystal weighing 100 tons and 30 feet in length came from Russia’s Ural Mountains!
Mining locations aren’t the only thing that varies with orthoclase. Let’s explore the orthoclase gemstone price.
Orthoclase is rare, which automatically ups its price. But the varieties commanding pretty pennies are transparent, golden-yellow, and champagne specimens. There are also even rarer green varieties resembling prasiolite!
Either way, orthoclase can be rather pricey; however, the orthoclase price-per-carat often depends on the cut.
Faceted cuts will run you between $7.30-$20 per carat,, with some impressive stones reaching as much as $45 per carat. . Cabochon cuts are dramatically cheaper, starting at $0.20 per carat. But oftentimes, orthoclase cabochons are really moonstones, not pure orthoclase.
Orthoclase rough specimens are in-line with cabochon prices, starting as little as $0.16 per carat, though you’ll often find them mixed with other stones like quartz.
For the gem shopper on a budget, cabochon orthoclase moonstone or orthoclase rough is your most affordable option and makes for lovely pendants and rings.
Orthoclase gemstones are total softies with a 6-6.5 Mohs rating — that means they need some extra TLC to keep them clean and shining. Like with most gemstones, take off your orthoclase jewelry before you swim, exercise, garden, or do anything else that breaks a sweat.
If you notice some dust on your stone, gently clean the crystal with a soft cloth and water. If it’s looking pretty dirty, you can use a mild soap as well. Avoid ultrasonic cleaners, as these can diminish the orthoclase shine over time.
Since the stone is easily scratched, keep it separate from other gemstones and jewelry. A padded jewelry box is best, but a simple cloth wrap is also sufficient.
Orthoclase gemstones work wonders for style, teamwork, and emotional health! Rock a lavish, faceted orthoclase ring on special occasions or a modest pair of orthoclase cabochon earrings for everyday wear.
Gemrock Auctions has all your gemstone needs, and it’s your top spot for all sorts of orthoclase stones, from rough specimens to stylish faceted cuts!
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