Spodumene is a pyroxene mineral consisting of lithium aluminium inosilicate - LiAl(SiO3)2 - and is a source of lithium. It occurs as colourless to yellowish, purplish or lilac kunzite (see below), yellowish-green or emerald-green hiddenite (see below), prismatic crystals, often of great size. Single crystals over 10 m in size are reported from the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Crystals form in the monoclinic system and are typically heavily striated parallel to the principal axis. Crystal faces are often etched and pitted with triangular markings.
Spodumene is derived from the Greek, meaning "burnt to ashes," owing to the opaque, ash-grey appearance of material refined for use in industry.
Spodumene occurs in lithium rich granites and pegmatites. Transparent material has long been used as a gemstone with varieties kunzite and hiddenite noted for their strong pleochroism. Source localities include Brazil, Madagascar, USA (North Carolina, California), Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Kunzite is a hard pink gemstone, a variety of spodumene with the colour coming from manganese.The gemstone can be heated to enhance its colour, which is when it acquires its characteristic gem colour and presentation. It was named after George Frederick Kunz, who discovered it in Connecticut, USA in 1902. It is currently mined in Brazil, USA, Canada, CIS, Mexico, Sweden, Western Australia, Afghanistan and it is also reported from northern areas of Pakistan.
Hiddenite is a pale green variety of spodumene first discovered at the Rist-Ellis mine in Hiddenite, North Carolina, USA. It is found only in Alexander County, North Carolina. For this reason, this mine is often referred to as the "Hiddenite Mine". It, like kunzite, is sometimes used as a gemstone.