Unakite - Metamorphic Gemstone

Unakite is a metamorphic rock composed primarily of green epidote, pink orthoclase feldspar, and clear to milky quartz. It is characterized by its distinctive mottled pattern of pink and green, which resembles moss growing on brick. It is a beautiful stone that is often used in jewelry and other decorative objects.

Unakite is found primarily in the Unakas Mountains of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, hence its name. However, it also occurs in other parts of the world, including South Africa, Norway, and Finland.


Formation of Unakite

Unakite originates from the alteration of granite, an igneous rock formed from the solidification of molten magma. During metamorphism, the original minerals in granite undergo transformation due to elevated temperatures and pressures. In the case of unakite, plagioclase feldspar, a common component of granite, is replaced by epidote, a mineral that imparts the characteristic green color. The pink hues stem from orthoclase feldspar, while quartz contributes the clear or bluish-gray patches.

Unakit  polished
Tumble polished unakite pebbles

The formation of unakite is typically associated with convergent plate boundaries, where tectonic forces push Earth's plates together, causing deep burial and deformation of rocks. These elevated temperatures and pressures facilitate the metamorphic processes that give rise to unakite's distinctive appearance.

Characteristics of Unakite

Unakite is typically found in massive or granular form, and its color can vary from light pink to deep red, and from light green to deep olive green. The stone is often translucent or opaque, and it has a hardness of 6-7 on the Mohs scale.

Physical properties of unakite

  • Color: Pink, green, and white
  • Hardness: 6-7 on the Mohs scale
  • Luster: Vitreous to greasy
  • Transparency: Opaque
  • Fracture: Conchoidal to uneven

Unakite rock
Natural Unakite rock from Buena Vista, Rockbridge County, Virginia, USA
Photo: James St. John

Uses of Unakite

Unakite is a popular gemstone for jewelry making, and it is often used in cabochons, beads, and carvings. The stone is also used as an architectural stone, and it can be found in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Here are some of the most common ways in which unakite is used:

  • Jewelry: Unakite is a popular choice for jewelry because of its striking pink and green colors. It is often used to make beads, cabochons, and pendants.

  • Healing: Unakite is believed to have a number of healing properties, including the ability to balance emotions, promote spiritual growth, and aid in the recovery from illness. It is also said to be a stone of vision and creativity.

  • Decorative arts: Unakite is a popular stone for use in decorative arts, such as sculptures, carvings, and inlays.

  • Construction: Unakite is a durable stone that can be used in a variety of construction applications, such as countertops, flooring, and wall cladding.


Unakite Slab
Unakite Slab

Unakite is a beautiful and eye-catching gemstone with a combination of colors, geological significance, and diverse uses.

See also: 

What Is Granite And How Is It Formed?
The Differences Between Metamorphic Rocks and Igneous Rocks
Natural Blue Skarn - Metamorphic Rocks

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