Sodalite: Royal Blue Gemstone

Sodalite is a rich royal blue mineral widely used as an ornamental gemstone. It is a member of the feldspathoid mineral group and is composed of sodium aluminum silicate with chloride. Sodalite can be found in a variety of colors, including blue, purple, gray, yellow, green, and pink. However, the most prized variety is the deep blue sodalite, which is often used in jewelry and ornamental objects. Sodalite can also be found with white veins or patches running throughout the stone.

Sodalite is a member of the sodalite group of minerals, which also includes hauyne, nosean, lazurite (the main mineral in lapis lazuli), and tugtupite. It is sometimes called "poor man's lapis" because of its similar appearance, but sodalite is generally a lighter and more consistent blue, and it lacks the golden pyrite flecks that are common in lapis lazuli.

The name sodalite comes from the Greek words "soda" meaning "salt" and "lithos" meaning "stone". This is because sodalite has a high sodium content. Sodalite is found in various locations around the world, including Brazil, Canada (notably in Bancroft, Ontario), Russia, Greenland, Namibia, and the United States.

Sodalite: Royal Blue Gemstone
Sodalite: Royal Blue Gemstone

Sodalite Properties

Composition: Sodalite is primarily composed of sodium (Na), aluminum (Al), silicon (Si), oxygen (O), and chlorine (Cl). Chemical Formula: Na₈Al₆Si₆O₂₄Cl₂

Physical Properties

  • Color: Primarily royal blue, but also found in gray, yellow, green, or pink. Often mottled with white veins or patches.
  • Transparency: Translucent to opaque.
  • Luster: Vitreous to greasy
  • Crystal System: Isometric (Cubic)
  • Streak: White
  • Hardness: 5.5 to 6 on Mohs scale
  • Cleavage: Poor, often indistinct, with cleavage planes that intersect at 90-degree angles.
  • Fracture: Conchoidal to uneven.
  • Habit: Sodalite can be found in large, solid masses (massive), made up of tiny grains (granular), or in well-defined cube-shaped crystals (euhedral).
  • Density: 2.13 - 2.33 g/cm³
  • Tenacity: Brittle
  • Solubility: Insoluble in water. Soluble in hydrochloric acid and nitric acid
  • Magnetism: Non-magnetic

Optical Properties

  • Fluorescence: Bright red-orange cathodoluminescence and fluorescence under shortwave (SW) and longwave (LW) ultraviolet light, with yellowish phosphorescence. May be photochromic in magentas.
  • Pleochroism: Weak
  • Refractive Index: 1.483 – 1.487


Sodalite raw, crystals, and Gems

Sodalite mineral in various forms: polished gems, natural crystals, and rough stones.

Where is sodalite found?

Sodalite is a rare mineral typically found in a variety of geological environments. Significant occurrences of sodalite can be found in various locations around the world, including:

  • Brazil: In Minas Gerais and Bahia states, sodalite is found in large crystals and in significant quantities.
  • Canada: The famous sodalite occurrences are in Ontario, specifically in Bancroft, where it is found as large crystals in calcite veins.
  • Greenland: Sodalite is found in association with nepheline syenite in Greenland, where it occurs as a major constituent of certain rock formations.
  • Russia: In the Kola Peninsula, sodalite is found in alkaline pegmatites and syenites.
  • Afghanistan: In the Sar-e-Sang region, sodalite occurs in significant quantities along with lapis lazuli.
  • Namibia: In the region around the Orange River, sodalite is found in association with other minerals in pegmatites.
  • United States: Minor occurrences are found in states such as Arkansas and Montana, associated with alkaline igneous rocks.


Sodalite boulder at Buttress Peak at British Columbia (Canada)

Sodalite Occurrence

These locations are known for producing sodalite in both raw and gemstone quality. Sodalite primarily occurs in alkaline plutonic igneous rocks such as nepheline syenites and phonolites, which are rich in sodium and lack quartz. These rocks form under specific conditions where sodium-rich magmas interact with silica-poor environments, facilitating sodalite crystallization at lower temperatures. A famous example is Mount Vesuvius in Italy, which has rare sodalite crystals. Sodalite can be found in contact metamorphosed limestones and dolomites, where it forms as a result of high temperatures and pressures. An example of this is Ladjuar Medan in Afghanistan.


sodalite fluorescence

Sodalite mineral with a glowing orange or yellow interior under ultraviolet light.

Sodalite Fluorescence

Sodalite is a mineral that can exhibit fluorescence, which means it glows under ultraviolet (UV) light. The most common fluorescence color for sodalite is orange, but it can also fluoresce yellow, pink, or white. The color of the fluorescence depends on the impurities present in the sodalite. For example, sodalite that contains sulfur will fluoresce orange, while sodalite that contains zinc will fluoresce yellow.

  • Color: Sodalite typically fluoresces orange or red-orange under shortwave UV (SWUV) light (254 nm wavelength). Under longwave UV (LWUV) light (365 nm wavelength), it can fluoresce pink, orange, or white.
  • Cause: Fluorescence in sodalite is caused by the presence of trace amounts of various elements such as chlorine, manganese, and rare earth elements like cerium.

Not all sodalite fluoresces, and the intensity of the fluorescence can vary depending on the specimen. However, fluorescence can be a helpful tool for identifying sodalite, especially when it is found in combination with other minerals.


green sodalite

Green sodalite mineral from Ladjuar Madan, Kokcha Valley, Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan

Sodalite Crystals

Sodalite typically forms in crystals that are rare compared to its more common massive or granular forms. When sodalite does crystallize, it usually forms in the cubic crystal system, although crystals can sometimes be distorted or show other minor variations.

Crystals of sodalite often exhibit a deep blue hue, sometimes with variations in intensity or clarity depending on the conditions under which they formed. The mineral's color is due to the presence of sulfur-containing impurities. Sodalite crystals can sometimes be found in association with other minerals in certain geological formations. Northern Namibia and the volcanic lavas of Vesuvius, Italy, are known for containing euhedral, transparent sodalite crystals.


Namibia Sodalite

Namibia Blue Sodalite, from the Kunene Region, Swartbooisdrif, Namibia
Photo by: Charlie Waite


Hackmanite is a rare variety of sodalite, prized for its unusual color-changing properties. Hackmanite typically ranges from light pink to pale violet in color, but it has a special optical property called tenebrescence, a type of reversible photochromism. This means that the gem can temporarily change color when exposed to different forms of light. In sunlight, hackmanite will fade to a gray or greenish-white color. This color change is caused by the presence of sulfur in the mineral's structure. When the stone is removed from sunlight, it will slowly return to its original color over a period of hours or days. This fascinating characteristic makes hackmanite a favorite among mineral collectors.

Hackmanite was first discovered in Greenland in the late 1890s and named after Finnish geologist Victor Hackman. Gem-grade hackmanite is uncommon, with most crystals being translucent at best.


Hackmanite colors

Hackmanite gemstone. Three sections: left shows the stone in normal light, center shows it under ultraviolet (UV) light, and right shows it after being removed from UV light.


Yooperlite is a type of rock that is found in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, along the shores of Lake Superior. It's technically a variety of syenite rich in fluorescent sodalite. These rocks look like ordinary dark stones or typical gray rocks, but they have a unique property: they glow a vibrant orange or yellow under ultraviolet light. This is due to the presence of sodalite, a mineral that fluoresces when exposed to UV light. These rocks gained popularity among collectors and enthusiasts due to their striking appearance when illuminated with UV light, creating a glowing effect that contrasts with the typical appearance of the rocks in daylight. This phenomenon has made Yooperlite hunting a popular activity in the region, especially along the shores of Lake Superior where they can be found.



Yooperlite, (nepheline syenite) a rock found near Lake Superior that glows orange under ultraviolet light.

Sodalite Vs Lapis Lazuli: Distinct Differences

Sodalite and lapis lazuli are both beautiful blue gemstones that are often confused with each other due to their similar appearance. However, they have distinct differences:


  • Sodalite: A tectosilicate mineral composed mainly of sodium, aluminum, silicon, and oxygen.
  • Lapis Lazuli: A rock, not a mineral, composed of a mixture of minerals, including lazurite (which gives it its blue color), calcite (white), sodalite, and pyrite (golden flecks).


  • Sodalite: Usually exhibits a rich royal blue to violet-blue color with white veining or specks of white calcite.
  • Lapis Lazuli: Known for its deep blue color often with golden flecks of pyrite and white calcite veins.


  • Sodalite: Generally appears more opaque and can have a more uniform color with occasional white veining.
  • Lapis Lazuli: Often has a more mottled appearance due to the presence of different minerals, and it may have a slightly glossy look when polished.


Lapis Lazuli Vs Sodalite
Rich blue stone with golden veins (Lapis Lazuli) vs. Darker blue stone with black and white patches (Sodalite)

Cost and Availability:

  • Sodalite: Generally more affordable and easier to find compared to lapis lazuli.
  • Lapis Lazuli: Can be quite expensive, especially high-quality material with deep blue color and minimal calcite and pyrite inclusions.

Historical and Cultural Significance:

  • Sodalite: Known for its use in jewelry and ornamental carvings. It's also used as a less expensive substitute for lapis lazuli in some cases.
  • Lapis Lazuli: Has a long history of use dating back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt, where it was highly prized for jewelry and art objects. It was ground into powder to create the pigment ultramarine, used by Renaissance and Baroque painters.

Metaphysical and Healing Properties:

  • Sodalite: Associated with promoting peace and tranquility, enhancing creativity, and aiding in communication.
  • Lapis Lazuli: Linked to wisdom, truth, and inner vision. It is believed to enhance mental clarity, intuition, and spiritual awareness.

Other Identifying Features:

  • Pyrite: Lapis lazuli almost always has flecks of pyrite, which sodalite typically does not.
  • Transparency: Sodalite can be translucent or even transparent in some forms, while lapis lazuli is always opaque.
  • Streak: Lapis lazuli has a blue streak due to lazurite. Sodalite, being a single mineral, has a white streak. This is a key identifier.
  • Inclusions: Sodalite may have black or white inclusions, but they are typically less common and prominent than the calcite and pyrite inclusions in lapis lazuli.


Sodalite and lapis lazuli

Sodalite and lapis lazuli gemstones. Left side shows sodalite, a blue stone with white spots. Right side shows lapis lazuli, a blue stone with gold pyrite flecks.

Sodalite Meaning and Properties

Sodalite is valued not only for its beauty but also for its metaphysical properties and meanings. The meaning of sodalite is associated with logic, truth, and communication. It is thought to be a helpful stone for those who want to improve their thinking skills and express themselves more clearly. Sodalite is also believed to be beneficial for emotional balance and can help to reduce anxiety and stress.

Here are some of the key aspects associated with sodalite:

Metaphysical Properties

  • Logic and Rationality: Sodalite is known as the "Stone of Logic," promoting rational thought, objectivity, and truth. It is believed to enhance intellectual ability, helping in problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Emotional Balance: This stone is thought to calm the mind and reduce emotional turmoil. It helps in releasing fears and promoting a sense of inner peace and balance.
  • Communication: Sodalite is often linked to the throat chakra, which governs communication. It is believed to improve self-expression and help in articulating one's thoughts clearly.
  • Intuition and Insight: Associated with the third eye chakra, sodalite is thought to enhance intuition, insight, and psychic abilities. It helps in understanding and interpreting one's inner thoughts and feelings.
  • Creativity: The stone is believed to inspire creativity and artistic expression, making it a popular choice for artists and writers.


Sodalite Gemstones

Polished sodalite gemstones

Healing Properties

  • Physical Healing: Sodalite is said to support the immune system, balance metabolism, and help with calcium deficiencies. It is also thought to aid in the treatment of throat, vocal cords, and larynx issues.
  • Mental Healing: It is considered beneficial for mental clarity and focus. It can help in overcoming mental confusion and promoting a clear, logical thought process.
  • Emotional Healing: Sodalite is thought to bring emotional harmony, reduce stress and anxiety, and help in releasing old mental patterns.

Spiritual Significance

  • Connection to the Divine: Sodalite is often used in meditation and spiritual practices to deepen one's connection to the divine and enhance spiritual growth.
  • Self-Awareness: It is believed to encourage self-examination and self-awareness, helping individuals to understand themselves better and live more authentically.
  • Harmony: Sodalite is thought to foster harmony in relationships, promoting understanding and solidarity among people.

Chakra Associations

  • Throat Chakra: Enhances communication, self-expression, and truth.
  • Third Eye Chakra: Enhances intuition, insight, and mental clarity.

Zodiac Associations

  • Sagittarius: Sodalite is often associated with this zodiac sign, helping Sagittarians with their quest for knowledge and truth.

In summary, sodalite is cherished for its ability to bring mental clarity, emotional balance, and enhanced communication, making it a powerful tool for personal and spiritual development.


sodalite cut and polished

Deep blue sodalite stone, cut and polished

Sodalite FAQs

What gives sodalite its blue color?

Sodalite gets its blue color primarily from the presence of small amounts of sulfur within its crystal structure. This sulfur can exist in different oxidation states, and the interaction between these states and the aluminum and silicon in the sodalite structure gives rise to its characteristic deep blue color. The specific mechanism involves the presence of S⁻ anions (sulfide ions) and potentially polysulfide anions, which can absorb light in the visible spectrum, particularly in the red and yellow regions, reflecting the blue light that we see.

What is the use of sodalite?

  • Decorative Uses: Sodalite is often used as an ornamental stone in carvings, sculptures, and various decorative items.
  • Jewelry: It is commonly used in jewelry, such as beads, cabochons, and other decorative pieces, due to its attractive blue color.

Can sodalite be worn every day?

Sodalite has a Mohs hardness of 5.5 to 6, which means it is relatively soft compared to other gemstones. It can be scratched or damaged more easily than harder stones like quartz or diamonds. To prevent damage, avoid exposing sodalite to harsh chemicals or abrasive activities. Sodalite should be cleaned gently with mild soap and water. It should not be exposed to extreme heat or prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, as this can cause fading.


Blue Sodalite Granite
Blue Sodalite Granite, a type of Nepheline Syenite with swirls, used for countertops and flooring.

What is Sodalite Granite?

Sodalite Granite is a type of nepheline syenite, which is an intrusive igneous rock composed mainly of nepheline and feldspar, along with other minerals. Although sodalite granite is not true granite by geological standards—true granite is primarily composed of quartz and feldspar—it is commonly marketed and used as granite in the commercial stone industry. Sodalite granite is valued for its unique blue color, which is primarily due to the presence of the sodalite mineral. This striking blue hue makes it a popular choice for decorative stone applications in interior design, such as countertops, tiles, and accent pieces.


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