Most sodalite that people are used to is that gorgeous deep royal blue coloured gems with white veins running through them. But what about pink sodalite? I know you might be asking yourself: “is this normal? Is it really sodalite or have I got something else?”
Well I’m happy to tell you that pink sodalite is absolutely real and is known by another name: hackmanite. Hackmanite is a rarer variety of sodalite that has a greater sensitivity to sunlight and has undergone a process known as tenebrescence, turning it pink.
How Does Sodalite Become Pink?
It’s not really that sodalite becomes pink but rather, there is a variation of sodalite called hackmanite that can be pink in certain circumstances. Sodalite or in this case hackmanite, becomes pink because it has a trait known as tenebrescence.
Tenebrescence refers to the ability in certain minerals, like hackmanite, to change colour when exposed to sunlight. The process is actually reversible when you expose the same mineral to UV light. For hackmanite, this process can change its colour from pink or purple to a greyish pale, and back again.
What is Hackmanite?
Hackmanite is a rare variation of sodalite that is capable of undergoing tenebrescence. Unlike regular sodalite, hackmanite is very rich in sulfur.
It was first discovered in Greenland in 1896 by Boergstroem, but was eventually named after Victor Axel Hackman. Despite being discovered at the end of the 19th century, it was until 1991 (almost 100 years later) that the first gem-quality hackmanite deposit was discovered in Canada.
When you first find hackmanite in the ground, it appears as a pale purple colour.But this changes completely after it’s been bathed in sunlight, lightening the colour to a grayish colour.
The purple colour will return if placed in darkness or put under an ultraviolet light. This change happens quickly initially, but can take weeks for the original colour of the hackmanite to reveal itself. The tenebrescence effect can be done over and over, as many times as you want, but once you apply heat, the process is ruined.
The tenebrescent color of any individual hackmanite stone can look anything from light pink to a deep purple. And while the majority of hackmanite is opaque, some high quality forms of hackmanite can be various degrees of transparent.
What is Tugtupite?
Since we’ve mentioned sodalite and hackmanite, it’s also worth talking a little bit about tugtupite. Tugtupite was discovered in 1957, and was named after the area of greenland it was found in: Tugtup agtakôrfia.
At first it was actually known as beryllium sodalite due to its similarity to sodalite.
It is incredibly rare (much rarer than both sodalite and hackmanite) due to that fact that it can only be found in three places in the entire world. And of these three places, Greenland is the only place that has a significant amount! The other two places you’d find some small samples of tugtupite are Russia and Canada.
Tugtupite is also tenebrescent, just like hackmanite and it’s colour varies from white, pale pink to a saturated red as well as the extremely rare light blue.
These days, tugtupite is mostly used as a gemstone due to how overwelmingly rare it is.. The highest quality tugtupite gemstones will stay a dark red for weeks but will eventually fade to a lighter red colour.
Can Sodalite be other colours too?
Sodalite is actually capable of being a few different colours. While the most typical colour you’ll see is the deep royal blue, sodalite can also be grey, yellow, green, purple, red and of course, pink. Though it’s really only the blue sodalite that you typically find in jewellry.
Is it Sodalite?
One question you may be asking yourself now is whether the stone you have is actually sodalite. While sodalite does have some distinctive features, like the deep blue color and the white veins, it’s possible that you’ve mistaken it for something else. A common mistake is Lapis Lazuli, which looks similar but with a few clear differences.
So, if you ever manage to come across pink sodalite, or hackmanite, consider yourself lucky. This is a variety of sodalite that’s much rarer. But if you can get your hands of some tugtupite, the you’ve found the crown jewel of sodalite. The pink or purple colour it has is unique and we can thank the reversible process of tenebrescence, which changes its colour due to light, for it’s wonderfully individual look.