Vivianite is a soft gemstone known for its ability to change to new, saturated blue to green colors from light exposure and shift in vibrant hues at different angles via pleochroism. It’s popular among collectors and can form around organic material like fossils or shells.
Is vivianite a rare mineral? Yes. The mineral itself is rare, and faceted vivianite gemstones are even rarer.
Is vivianite fragile? Absolutely. Its fragile nature is largely why faceted specimens are so rare. You also won’t see much if any vivianite jewelry available. However, raw vivianite crystals are attractive uncut, with large sizes and vivid coloring perfect for decor or healing.
Today, we’ll go over all of vivianite’s characteristics, colors, history, benefits, and more!
Vivianite is a semi-precious gemstone used historically as a pigment. It has a few monikers, some of which are related to its pigment uses:
Native Prussian blue
Blue iron earth
Earthy phosphate of iron
Phosphate of iron
Angelardite / Anglarite / Anglarite
Besides paint pigment, what is vivianite used for? Scientists have created synthetic vivianite for agricultural and environmental research. Synthetic vivianites haven’t been manufactured for sale as commercial gems, though.
Vivianite is a hydrated iron phosphate mineral with the formula Fe3(PO4)2 · 8H2O. The iron may be substituted by small amounts of magnesium, manganese, or calcium.
Once formed, vivianite crystals are equant, prismatic, or tabular. It can also form in radial or bladed groups of crystal clusters, crusts, or earthy masses.
Does vivianite change color? Yes, but not in the same way as color-changing gems like alexandrite. Vivianite can display multiple colors at different angles through pleochroism, but it will also permanently change colors after exposure to light due to internal oxidation.
The mineral’s streak will also change from colorless initially to dark blue over time, an identifying characteristic not seen in many other minerals.
Vivianite’s tenacity is flexible, meaning it can bend without breaking, and sectile, meaning you can cut it into thin slices with a knife.
Here are all of vivianite’s properties:
Mohs hardness: 1.5-2
Color: Colorless when fresh; Gradually alters to shades of light blue and/or green, followed by dark green or greenish-blue, then indigo-blue, then bluish-black or black
Crystal structure: Monoclinic
Luster: Vitreous (glassy), pearly on cleavage; Can be dull or earthy
Transparency: Transparent to opaque
Refractive index: 1.569-1.675; Bolivian specimens - 1.585, 1.603, and 1.639
Density: 2.64-2.68; Bolivian specimens - 2.64
Cleavage: Perfect, 1-direction on 
Streak: Colorless/white to bluish-white, changes to dark blue or brown over time
Pleochroism: Present & intense - blue/deep blue/indigo-blue to pale yellow-green/pale blue-green/yellow-green to pale yellow-green/olive-yellow
Vivianite crystals symbolize compassion, renewed hope, and emotional strength.
The stone’s ability to darken in color over time has led to some interpretations of vivianite’s metaphysical properties. British geologist and mineral enthusiast Alfredo Petrov recalled his experience with a couple at the Tucson Gem Shows in 2003 and 2004.
The couple bought Bolivian vivianites from Petrov in 2003, then returned for more in 2004. The couple was glad their original vivianites turned black, as they believed the mineral darkened as it absorbed more and more evil energies. But they also said they needed fresh vivianite crystals to continue benefiting from the mineral’s purported negativity-dispelling powers.
German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner named Vivianite in 1817 shortly before his passing. Sources differ on who Werner was honoring with the name, claiming it was either English mineralogist John Henry (J.H.) Vivian or Welsh-Cornish politician and mineralogist Jeffrey G. (J.G.) Vivian.
Regardless, the Vivian who discovered it found it in the Wheal Kine (or Wheal Kind) mine in Cornwall, England. The earliest written record of the mineral before this was from G.C. Springsfeld in 1751.
However, vivianite pigment has been used in oil paint since the Roman era of 625 BC to 476 AD.
Although few painters used it, one notable example is the gray-blue parts of the tablecloth (or carpet) in the foreground of Johannes Vermeer’s 1656 painting The Procuress. (You may know Vermeer better for his 1665 painting Girl With a Pearl Earring.) The discovery of vivianite in the pigment was done through scientific analysis conducted in 2001.
Image credit: Jake Slagle, Flickr
Vivianite can be used as a healing stone. Like all blue gemstones, blue vivianites increase wisdom, loyalty, and freedom. They’re also great throat and third eye chakra stones, promoting spiritual awareness and healthy communication.
Green vivianites join other green gemstones in bringing abundance, good luck, and personal growth.
Physically, what are the benefits of vivianite?
Physically, vivianite crystal benefits are said to include treating or helping with:
Recovery from illness
Dementia and memory loss
Emotionally, vivianite is said to help dispel feelings of anxiety or discomfort in your own skin. It may increase feelings of fulfillment, confidence, and optimism.
How much is vivianite worth? It depends on the specimen. Vivianite is graded on standard properties like color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. However, its rarity means any vivianite for sale will hold some value.
Though fresh vivianite is colorless and often transparent, it quickly darkens to shades of blue or green. Bright transparent green or blue vivianite that hasn’t oxidized as much is more valuable than fully oxidized black specimens. Strong pleochroism is also valuable.
Finding faceted vivianite is difficult. The mineral’s Mohs hardness is incredibly low — between talc and gypsum. This softness combined with perfect cleavage and sectile tenacity makes any type of cutting or polishing difficult, so a rare faceted vivianite could command a high price. Attractive rough (uncut) vivianite specimens are more common.
Clarity describes how many visible inclusions are in a gemstone, which can affect its transparency. The most valuable vivianite specimens have little to no visible inclusions and high transparency. Darker colors from oxidation can also lower the transparency, decreasing the value.
Vivianite specimens can be quite large, especially those from Bolivia. Unfortunately, the size doesn’t make cutting them any easier, so cut vivianites in large sizes aren’t common. The largest vivianite crystals are over 1 meter (~3.3 feet) long and come from Cameroon.
Common environments to find vivianite include:
Oxidation zone of metal ore deposits
Phosphate mineral-bearing granite pegmatites
In alluvial deposits, vivianite is often found replacing organic matter to form around or inside of material like decaying wood (like the image above) and even decaying bodies. In fact, human remains buried in bogs (or anywhere that’s waterlogged with lots of iron and no oxygen) have been found with vivianite on the bones, teeth, and skin.
The best environment for high-quality, gemmy vivianite crystals is hydrothermal veins.
Where is vivianite found? Despite its rarity, vivianite has a number of sources. The best sources for gem-quality vivianite are:
USA (Idaho, Virginia, Utah)
Additional sources of significance are:
USA (California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, New Jersey, South Dakota)
Now, how much does vivianite cost?
Here at Gem Rock Auctions, you can find dark blackish-blue vivianite cabochons for $18 to $30 each.
Raw vivianite crystal prices depend on the specimen and seller. You can find small, dark green crystals for as low as $5 and huge 3- to 10-pound specimens for upwards of $2,500.
Many deep green, transparent to translucent vivianite crystals measuring 4-10 inches are around $40 to $100 each.
Before we discuss gemstone care, is vivianite toxic? No, vivianite isn’t toxic, but it’s best to avoid inhaling powdered vivianite or drinking any vivianite elixirs.
How do you care for vivianite? To preserve your vivianite’s color, store it in a dark place away from any light, like an opaque, fabric-lined box (not glass) or pouch.
Besides light, keep vivianite away from:
Acids (dissolves the mineral)
Hydrogen peroxide (darkens the mineral’s color)
Wash your hands after touching any vivianite specimens.
Image credit: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0
Though vivianite is rare and not suited for jewelry, it’s still a powerful healing stone and a beautiful piece for any collection. The crystal’s purported ability to soak up negative energies is perfect for keeping the positive vibes flowing!
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