Diamond lovers are spoiled for choices today when it comes to the dizzying array of diamond products on the market. Not just content with an earth mined diamond anymore, consumers may want to shop for treated diamonds and enjoy a big rock look at an affordable price point. But lab-diamonds are taking hold of the diamond lover’s cognizance. Ideas like eco-conscious and ethical alternatives are bandied about in an attempt to intrigue the shopper by appealing to their sense of sustainability.
But diamond-looking stones are also worthy alternatives that are not trying to be a diamond, yet they have a colorless look that attracts jewelry fans. Moissanite, white topaz, colorless quartz, even danburite and colorless sapphire hit the mark of both beauty and affordability. Can we add rarity to the mix and offer customers something ‘hard-to-find’ and lovely at the same time?
Phenakite may be off most jewelers’ radar, but it doesn’t have to be. While it’s somewhat rare, it is accessible with a bit of searching. Having some similarities in appearance to quartz – the most abundant mineral on earth – phenakite takes it name from the Ancient Greek word phénax meaning ‘deceiver’ since it was mistaken for the more abundant quartz or Herkimer diamonds earlier on.
Because the stone is not big in the dispersion department – it hasn’t garnered the excitement of other more brilliant natural stones. But it is bright when polished well and makes a formidable colorless stone fit for any jewelry piece one can design. The rough may display trigons – and it could throw off an unsuspecting person, thinking they’ve found a diamond. But not so fast. Phenakite has several other characteristics that make the separation, including its birefringence and lower SG than a diamond.
Not all phenakite ends up on the jewelers cutting wheel though. Sometimes it finds its way into becoming polished beads that make for charming bracelets and necklaces.
Phenakite can be colorless – and like fancy color sapphire, it can also be produced in yellows, even pinks and browns. Because it ranks 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale, this hard stone is well suited for any jewelry application.
Many gemstones hail from the far east in locales with exotic sounding names like Singapore or Myanmar. And that adds to the mystique of any jewel for the consumer. With phenakite, you can tell the story of its origin in the Ural Mountains of Russia or even the Northern Cape of South Africa. Recently some intriguing cat’s eye phenakite has turned up in Madagascar and Sri Lanka. But one doesn’t even have to hike that far. Turns out there are deposits found in both Maine and Colorado.
Today’s jewelry fans are an astute tribe – longing for a good story with jewelry they collect. They also want their accessories to be an accurate reflection of their individuality. Seems like phenakite offers that out-of-the-ordinary option that could create greater loyalty with your customers, as you’ll be the expert for introducing them to a rare stone.