Sinhalite Gemstone: Properties, Meanings, Value & More

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Sinhalite is a lesser-known gemstone with stunning, vibrant colors. It’s a 20th-century discovery, being formerly mistaken for more well-known gems like peridot.

Is sinhalite rare? Yes. Sinhalite minerals are rare and cut gemstones are even rarer, though surprisingly found in large sizes.

The stone is named after Sinhala, a nickname for Sri Lanka because it’s the language of the largest ethno-linguistic group (Sinhalese) native to the island.

Despite being sinhalite’s namesake, Sri Lanka is most famous for varieties of sapphire like star sapphire, Padparadscha sapphire, and Ceylon blue sapphires.

But sinhalite has plenty of mystique of its own, which you’ll find out in this guide on all of sinhalite’s colors, properties, prices, and more!

sinhalite gemstone

What is the Gemstone Sinhalite?

Sinhalite is a rare semi-precious gemstone sometimes mistakenly called “sinha light.” The color of sinhalite varies, but it’s usually found in shades of green to brown.

Historically, sinhalite has been mistaken for peridot, particularly brown peridot, which it shares many properties with.

As a peridot simulant, sinhalite can serve as an alternative August birthstone and 16th wedding anniversary gem.

Sinhalite also resembles citrine and zircon, making it an alternative November birthstone and 13th anniversary gem (citrine), as well as a December birthstone and 22nd anniversary gem (zircon).

Sinhalite Specifications & Characteristics

As a magnesium aluminum borate, sinhalite’s formula is MgAlBO4. Some mineralogists classify sinhalite as a magnesium aluminum iron borate but keep the same formula. Notably, an early analysis of a sinhalite specimen revealed a 2 percent iron content.

The most similar mineral to sinhalite is peridot, or olivine. Though olivine shares sinhalite’s hardness, coloring, and some other properties, the two differ in:

  1. Composition: Olivine is a magnesium iron silicate; sinhalite is a magnesium aluminum borate.

  2. Refractive Indices: Olivine’s RI is 1.635-1.690; sinhalite’s RI is 1.665-1.712.

  3. Optic Character: Olivine is biaxial positive (+); sinhalite is biaxial negative (-).

  4. Absorption Bands: Olivine has bands at 3970 and 3850A; sinhalite has a band at 4630. (Both have bands at 4930, 4750, 4520, and 4350).

  5. Pleochroism: Olivine has weak pleochroism in yellow-green to green to colorless; sinhalite has stronger pleochroism in pale brown to greenish-brown to dark brown

Sinhalite is usually found as rolled pebbles or grains in irregular masses. Very rarely, sinhalite forms euhedral crystals in marbles.

Sinhalite properties listed:

  • Mohs hardness: 6.5-7

  • Color: White, gray, grayish-blue, pale brown, dark brown, yellow, yellowish-brown, reddish-brown, greenish-brown, green. Brownish-pink, pale pink (Tanzania)

  • Crystal structure: Orthorhombic

  • Luster: Vitreous, sub-vitreous, or resinous

  • Transparency: Translucent to transparent

  • Refractive index: 1.665-1.712

  • Density: 3.46-3.50

  • Cleavage: None

  • Fracture: Conchoidal or subconchoidal

  • Streak: White

  • Luminescence: None

  • Pleochroism: Present & distinct - pale brown to greenish-brown to dark brown

  • Birefringence: 0.035-0.039

  • Dispersion: 0.017-0.018 (moderate)

champagne yellow sinhalite gemstone faceted in heart shape

Sinhalite Meaning & History

Sinhalite crystals symbolize light, openness, and security.

The crystal is said to help you feel secure in who you are and help you open up to others (especially new people) with courageous vulnerability and honesty.

History

Sinhalite was long mistaken for similar gems, notably brown peridot (olivine), for many years. The first notice of sinhalite was in 1912, when British mineralogist Dr. Arthur Francis Hallimond noted that a stone labeled chrysoberyl in the Geological Survey register may be chrysolite but should be examined further.

Unfortunately, no examination happened.

Decades later, a member of the Laboratory of the London Chamber of Commerce (now Gemmological Association of Great Britain, or Gem-A) named Cecil J. Payne was examining some olivines with colleague Basil William Anderson.

The negative optic character and pale color of seemingly iron-rich, brown “olivines” didn’t make sense.

However, American mineralogist (and starter of the Smithsonian Institution's National Gem & Mineral Collection) Dr. George Shirley Switzer conducted the first official X-ray powder analysis in June 1950. Switzer found the stone’s spacings were not accurate to olivine and obtained more Sri Lankan specimens to analyze.

Sinhalite’s First Description

In 1951, Switzer’s colleague Dr. William F. Foshag visited the British Museum of Natural History and told Gordon Frank Claringbull, the museum’s Director and Keeper of Mineralogy, that a brown “olivine” displayed might be inaccurately labeled.

Claringbull and British mineralogist Max H. Hey conducted an analysis, with similar specimens from the Gem-A collection, British Geological Survey, and other donors. They proved the mineral was definitively NOT olivine, as it didn’t have silicon, but a new mineral.

Hey and Claringbull published the first description in 1952, naming the stone “sinhalite” after the name for Sri Lanka, the only source known at the time. Of the 22 specimens they studied, 20 ended up being sinhalite and only 2 were olivine.

Subsequent Discoveries

In 1955, a second occurrence of sinhalite was reported: New York, USA. Crystals were subsequently reported from:

  • Russia in 1956,

  • Burma (Myanmar) in 1958,

  • Tanzania in 1969,

  • China in 1996,

  • Canada in 1982,

  • New Jersey, USA, in 1997, and

  • Madagascar in 2010

The first synthetic sinhalite phase, named pseudosinhalite with the formula Mg2Al3O[BO4]2(OH), was reported in 1981. This sinhalite phase was discovered as a natural mineral in Russia in 1998. The International Mineralogical Association (IMA) approved it in 1997.

golden yellow sinhalite gemstone pebble roughPictured above: 9.53-carat, clean, light golden yellow piece of rounded sinhalite gem rough from near Niriella; Hoppel Collection | Image credit: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Sinhalite Healing Properties

As an often brownish healing stone, sinhalite’s meaning reflects the grounding and nurturing properties of other brown gemstones.

Physical Healing

Physically, sinhalite is believed to treat issues related to:

  • Endurance

  • Stamina

  • Low energy

  • Digestion

Emotional Healing

Emotionally, crystal healers say sinhalite benefits include encouraging:

  • Personal growth

  • Renewal

  • Motivation

  • Openness

  • Happiness

Sinhalite is also said to attract success.

Chakra Healing

Chakra healing involves resolving negative symptoms associated with an energy center (chakra) being blocked. Crystals are used to open, balance, and align the chakras so energy can flow freely throughout the system again.

Sinhalite is a chakra stone for the root (base), solar plexus (navel), and heart chakras.

The root chakra governs fundamental needs like stability, connection, and trust. The solar plexus deals with personal growth, self-image, and purpose. Your heart chakra governs compassion, spirituality, and all forms of love.

By balancing and aligning energy flow through these three chakras, sinhalite can help you feel secure in who you are, where you’re going, and who will help you get to where you want to be.

light yellow faceted sinhalite gemstone

Sinhalite Gemstone Properties

Besides its rarity, sinhalite’s value also depends on its color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. We’ll also touch on treatments. Synthetic sinhalites aren’t available on the gemstone market as of now.

Color

Though sinhalite can be colorless, the presence of iron usually results in yellow or brown colors including yellowish-brown, reddish-brown, and greenish-brown. Light pink and brownish-pink sinhalite has been found in Tanzania.

The most valuable sinhalite colors resemble chrysoberyl in golden-yellow to yellow-green hues.

Cut

Most gem-quality sinhalite is faceted, which tends to be most valuable. These gems often have oval, round, or cushion shapes to enhance their color and fire (colorful sparkle).

Sinhalite is rarely cut into cabochons, but it may be sold rough (uncut).

bright orange sinhalite faceted gemstone with inclusions

Clarity

Clarity describes the degree of visible inclusions in a gem, which can lower its transparency and value. Many faceted sinhalites are eye-clean (no visible inclusions without magnification).

Potential sinhalite inclusions are:

  • Needle-like negative crystals (e.g. sillimanite)

  • Tabular negative crystals

  • Rutile

  • Rods

  • Iron staining

Carat Weight & Size

Despite its rarity, rough Sri Lankan sinhalite pebbles come in surprisingly large sizes. Most faceted gems are 1 to 20 carats. The largest known faceted sinhalite is 158 carats.

Treatments

Treatments aren’t common for sinhalite, but one cabochon studied by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in 2001 was intentionally scratched with parallel lines to create an optical effect resembling asterism.

golden yellow sinhalite crystal from burma myanmarPictured above: 3.3-gram (including box) sinhalite crystal from Burma (Myanmar) | Image credit: © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Sinhalite Formation & Sources

Sinhalite forms through contact metamorphism, meaning hot magma alters rocks and any minerals present inside them.

The mineral is usually found in marbles, metasedimentary diopsidites, and alluvial deposits.

Associated minerals include:

  • Serendibite

  • Phlogopite

  • Chondrodite

Mining Locations

The primary source for gem-quality sinhalite material is Sri Lanka. (Note: Genuine brown peridot material is also found in Sri Lanka.)

Sinhalite gem material is also found in:

  • Madagascar

  • Myanmar

  • Tanzania

Other sources for sinhalite as a mineral:

  • Canada

  • China

  • India

  • Russia

  • USA (New Jersey, New York)

Tanzania is notable for producing some gemmy light pink and brownish-pink sinhalite.

yellow brown faceted sinhalite gemstone

Sinhalite Price & Value

The price per carat of faceted sinhalite gemstones averages to around $100 to $200 per carat, though it ranges from around $40 to over $800 per carat.

Individual sinhalite crystals (rough) can be found for around $15 up to $300 or higher, depending on the size and quality.

Sinhalite jewelry prices are generally:

  • Rings: $360 to $3,900

  • Pendants: $250 to $2,800

Sinhalite Care and Maintenance

Luckily, gemstone care for sinhalite is pretty easy. We recommend protective settings on more vulnerable sinhalite jewelry like rings.

Clean sinhalite gently with mild soap, warm water, and a soft toothbrush. Store away from other gems to avoid scratches.

Enticed by Sinhalite?

Sinhalite may not be Sri Lanka’s most famous gem, but this beauty has plenty of appeal: beautiful earthy colors, colorful sparkle, and alluring rarity to boot!

Buy sinhalite gemstones today!

Sinhalite is a lesser-known gemstone with stunning, vibrant colors. It’s a 20th-century discovery, being formerly mistaken for more well-known gems like peridot.

Is sinhalite rare? Yes. Sinhalite minerals are rare and cut gemstones are even rarer, though surprisingly found in large sizes.

The stone is named after Sinhala, a nickname for Sri Lanka because it’s the language of the largest ethno-linguistic group (Sinhalese) native to the island.

Despite being sinhalite’s namesake, Sri Lanka is most famous for varieties of sapphire like star sapphire, Padparadscha sapphire, and Ceylon blue sapphires.

But sinhalite has plenty of mystique of its own, which you’ll find out in this guide on all of sinhalite’s colors, properties, prices, and more!

sinhalite gemstone

What is the Gemstone Sinhalite?

Sinhalite is a rare semi-precious gemstone sometimes mistakenly called “sinha light.” The color of sinhalite varies, but it’s usually found in shades of green to brown.

Historically, sinhalite has been mistaken for peridot, particularly brown peridot, which it shares many properties with.

As a peridot simulant, sinhalite can serve as an alternative August birthstone and 16th wedding anniversary gem.

Sinhalite also resembles citrine and zircon, making it an alternative November birthstone and 13th anniversary gem (citrine), as well as a December birthstone and 22nd anniversary gem (zircon).

Sinhalite Specifications & Characteristics

As a magnesium aluminum borate, sinhalite’s formula is MgAlBO4. Some mineralogists classify sinhalite as a magnesium aluminum iron borate but keep the same formula. Notably, an early analysis of a sinhalite specimen revealed a 2 percent iron content.

The most similar mineral to sinhalite is peridot, or olivine. Though olivine shares sinhalite’s hardness, coloring, and some other properties, the two differ in:

  1. Composition: Olivine is a magnesium iron silicate; sinhalite is a magnesium aluminum borate.

  2. Refractive Indices: Olivine’s RI is 1.635-1.690; sinhalite’s RI is 1.665-1.712.

  3. Optic Character: Olivine is biaxial positive (+); sinhalite is biaxial negative (-).

  4. Absorption Bands: Olivine has bands at 3970 and 3850A; sinhalite has a band at 4630. (Both have bands at 4930, 4750, 4520, and 4350).

  5. Pleochroism: Olivine has weak pleochroism in yellow-green to green to colorless; sinhalite has stronger pleochroism in pale brown to greenish-brown to dark brown

Sinhalite is usually found as rolled pebbles or grains in irregular masses. Very rarely, sinhalite forms euhedral crystals in marbles.

Sinhalite properties listed:

  • Mohs hardness: 6.5-7

  • Color: White, gray, grayish-blue, pale brown, dark brown, yellow, yellowish-brown, reddish-brown, greenish-brown, green. Brownish-pink, pale pink (Tanzania)

  • Crystal structure: Orthorhombic

  • Luster: Vitreous, sub-vitreous, or resinous

  • Transparency: Translucent to transparent

  • Refractive index: 1.665-1.712

  • Density: 3.46-3.50

  • Cleavage: None

  • Fracture: Conchoidal or subconchoidal

  • Streak: White

  • Luminescence: None

  • Pleochroism: Present & distinct - pale brown to greenish-brown to dark brown

  • Birefringence: 0.035-0.039

  • Dispersion: 0.017-0.018 (moderate)

champagne yellow sinhalite gemstone faceted in heart shape

Sinhalite Meaning & History

Sinhalite crystals symbolize light, openness, and security.

The crystal is said to help you feel secure in who you are and help you open up to others (especially new people) with courageous vulnerability and honesty.

History

Sinhalite was long mistaken for similar gems, notably brown peridot (olivine), for many years. The first notice of sinhalite was in 1912, when British mineralogist Dr. Arthur Francis Hallimond noted that a stone labeled chrysoberyl in the Geological Survey register may be chrysolite but should be examined further.

Unfortunately, no examination happened.

Decades later, a member of the Laboratory of the London Chamber of Commerce (now Gemmological Association of Great Britain, or Gem-A) named Cecil J. Payne was examining some olivines with colleague Basil William Anderson.

The negative optic character and pale color of seemingly iron-rich, brown “olivines” didn’t make sense.

However, American mineralogist (and starter of the Smithsonian Institution's National Gem & Mineral Collection) Dr. George Shirley Switzer conducted the first official X-ray powder analysis in June 1950. Switzer found the stone’s spacings were not accurate to olivine and obtained more Sri Lankan specimens to analyze.

Sinhalite’s First Description

In 1951, Switzer’s colleague Dr. William F. Foshag visited the British Museum of Natural History and told Gordon Frank Claringbull, the museum’s Director and Keeper of Mineralogy, that a brown “olivine” displayed might be inaccurately labeled.

Claringbull and British mineralogist Max H. Hey conducted an analysis, with similar specimens from the Gem-A collection, British Geological Survey, and other donors. They proved the mineral was definitively NOT olivine, as it didn’t have silicon, but a new mineral.

Hey and Claringbull published the first description in 1952, naming the stone “sinhalite” after the name for Sri Lanka, the only source known at the time. Of the 22 specimens they studied, 20 ended up being sinhalite and only 2 were olivine.

Subsequent Discoveries

In 1955, a second occurrence of sinhalite was reported: New York, USA. Crystals were subsequently reported from:

  • Russia in 1956,

  • Burma (Myanmar) in 1958,

  • Tanzania in 1969,

  • China in 1996,

  • Canada in 1982,

  • New Jersey, USA, in 1997, and

  • Madagascar in 2010

The first synthetic sinhalite phase, named pseudosinhalite with the formula Mg2Al3O[BO4]2(OH), was reported in 1981. This sinhalite phase was discovered as a natural mineral in Russia in 1998. The International Mineralogical Association (IMA) approved it in 1997.

golden yellow sinhalite gemstone pebble roughPictured above: 9.53-carat, clean, light golden yellow piece of rounded sinhalite gem rough from near Niriella; Hoppel Collection | Image credit: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0

Sinhalite Healing Properties

As an often brownish healing stone, sinhalite’s meaning reflects the grounding and nurturing properties of other brown gemstones.

Physical Healing

Physically, sinhalite is believed to treat issues related to:

  • Endurance

  • Stamina

  • Low energy

  • Digestion

Emotional Healing

Emotionally, crystal healers say sinhalite benefits include encouraging:

  • Personal growth

  • Renewal

  • Motivation

  • Openness

  • Happiness

Sinhalite is also said to attract success.

Chakra Healing

Chakra healing involves resolving negative symptoms associated with an energy center (chakra) being blocked. Crystals are used to open, balance, and align the chakras so energy can flow freely throughout the system again.

Sinhalite is a chakra stone for the root (base), solar plexus (navel), and heart chakras.

The root chakra governs fundamental needs like stability, connection, and trust. The solar plexus deals with personal growth, self-image, and purpose. Your heart chakra governs compassion, spirituality, and all forms of love.

By balancing and aligning energy flow through these three chakras, sinhalite can help you feel secure in who you are, where you’re going, and who will help you get to where you want to be.

light yellow faceted sinhalite gemstone

Sinhalite Gemstone Properties

Besides its rarity, sinhalite’s value also depends on its color, cut, clarity, and carat weight. We’ll also touch on treatments. Synthetic sinhalites aren’t available on the gemstone market as of now.

Color

Though sinhalite can be colorless, the presence of iron usually results in yellow or brown colors including yellowish-brown, reddish-brown, and greenish-brown. Light pink and brownish-pink sinhalite has been found in Tanzania.

The most valuable sinhalite colors resemble chrysoberyl in golden-yellow to yellow-green hues.

Cut

Most gem-quality sinhalite is faceted, which tends to be most valuable. These gems often have oval, round, or cushion shapes to enhance their color and fire (colorful sparkle).

Sinhalite is rarely cut into cabochons, but it may be sold rough (uncut).

bright orange sinhalite faceted gemstone with inclusions

Clarity

Clarity describes the degree of visible inclusions in a gem, which can lower its transparency and value. Many faceted sinhalites are eye-clean (no visible inclusions without magnification).

Potential sinhalite inclusions are:

  • Needle-like negative crystals (e.g. sillimanite)

  • Tabular negative crystals

  • Rutile

  • Rods

  • Iron staining

Carat Weight & Size

Despite its rarity, rough Sri Lankan sinhalite pebbles come in surprisingly large sizes. Most faceted gems are 1 to 20 carats. The largest known faceted sinhalite is 158 carats.

Treatments

Treatments aren’t common for sinhalite, but one cabochon studied by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in 2001 was intentionally scratched with parallel lines to create an optical effect resembling asterism.

golden yellow sinhalite crystal from burma myanmarPictured above: 3.3-gram (including box) sinhalite crystal from Burma (Myanmar) | Image credit: © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Sinhalite Formation & Sources

Sinhalite forms through contact metamorphism, meaning hot magma alters rocks and any minerals present inside them.

The mineral is usually found in marbles, metasedimentary diopsidites, and alluvial deposits.

Associated minerals include:

  • Serendibite

  • Phlogopite

  • Chondrodite

Mining Locations

The primary source for gem-quality sinhalite material is Sri Lanka. (Note: Genuine brown peridot material is also found in Sri Lanka.)

Sinhalite gem material is also found in:

  • Madagascar

  • Myanmar

  • Tanzania

Other sources for sinhalite as a mineral:

  • Canada

  • China

  • India

  • Russia

  • USA (New Jersey, New York)

Tanzania is notable for producing some gemmy light pink and brownish-pink sinhalite.

yellow brown faceted sinhalite gemstone

Sinhalite Price & Value

The price per carat of faceted sinhalite gemstones averages to around $100 to $200 per carat, though it ranges from around $40 to over $800 per carat.

Individual sinhalite crystals (rough) can be found for around $15 up to $300 or higher, depending on the size and quality.

Sinhalite jewelry prices are generally:

  • Rings: $360 to $3,900

  • Pendants: $250 to $2,800

Sinhalite Care and Maintenance

Luckily, gemstone care for sinhalite is pretty easy. We recommend protective settings on more vulnerable sinhalite jewelry like rings.

Clean sinhalite gently with mild soap, warm water, and a soft toothbrush. Store away from other gems to avoid scratches.

Enticed by Sinhalite?

Sinhalite may not be Sri Lanka’s most famous gem, but this beauty has plenty of appeal: beautiful earthy colors, colorful sparkle, and alluring rarity to boot!

Buy sinhalite gemstones today!

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