Epidote vs Unakite: What Are They, And What’s The Difference?

It’s hard to compare epidote and unakite.

In a biological way, unakite is a type of epidote.

Unakite has a significant amount of epidote in it. Still, there are some differences that set them apart.

Deeper exploration is the only way to understand the truth behind these confusing specimens.

This guide explains what unakite and epidote are, their uses, and more.

Epidote vs Unakite: Explained

What is Unakite?

Unakite occurs when granite and lava collide.

The resulting transformations are these gorgeous pink and green metamorphic semi-precious rocks.

Unakite is a complex form of calcium aluminum iron silicate. In this case, both aluminum and calcium iron replace other metals, like manganese.

The best part is, it’s a product of alteration.

So there is a wide variance in its chemical formula and composition.

What Is An Epidote?

Epidote is a composite rock.

Although it has a pretty decent hardness range on the Mohs scale, it’s softer than quartz.

It has poor toughness because of its perfect basal cleavage.

It comprises so many things, you can classify it under different minerals like:

  • Tawmawite: This variety of epidote is Burmese and rich in chromium.
  • Clinozoisite: A white, some pink, type of epidote with very low iron content. It’s like zoisite.
  • Zoisite: The most popular form of this mineral is the mesmerizingly violet-blue tanzanite.
  • Piemontite: This type of episode has a lot of opaque forms of manganese.

What Color Are Epidote Minerals?

Epidote colors are nearly every shade of green.

They range anywhere from bright pistachio green to dingy yellowish-green.

But, darker brownish-green or black exists as well.

The larger, crystallized specimens are often translucent.

They also have a vitreous luster.

It depends on the variations in each epidote’s chemical composition.

The mineral group epidotes differs from its counterparts.

The minerals in this group look like crystals- both the paired and isolated versions of the silica tetrahedral.

What are the Physical Properties of Unakite?

Unakite looks like it’s made of pink and green crystals.

But, they’re the true definition of a rock.

They’re created from a combination of several materials.

Interestingly, this is the very reason it’s not recommended to immerse unakite in water.

At least, not for long periods.

Even more mystifying, it has nothing to do with solubility or hardness.

It is the chemical formation of stone. And the damage that it can do to it.

Some unakite may contain asbestos and mercury.

Both of these are harmful to humans.

There’s no way to tell unless you’re a professional or enthusiast.

What are the Physical Properties of Epidote?

It can range in clarity from opaque to transparent green.

The transparent crystals are the ones that are worth the most.

When polished properly, it is a fine specimen with a vitreous and bright luster.

It’s a rock-forming mineral that’s undergone several metamorphoses.

The ultimate creation is a result of the differing amounts of silicate material.

Is Unakite a Gemstone?

Although the term semi-precious is popular in the lapidary field.

Unakite’s vibrant green and pink colors attract a lot of attention.

Artists carve them into ornamental objects, beads, and cabochons.

Although many people consider unakite a gemstone, that’s not accurate information.

Its physical properties make it a metamorphic rock.

At its essence, unakite is a type of altered granite.

It’s a mixture of quartz, feldspar, and other minerals.

Hydrothermal activity changes granite and creates the resulting composite.

It’s also pretty hard, with a 6.5 rating on the hardness scale.

Is an Epidote a Gemstone?

They are rare instances where you will find a faceted epidote gemstone.

But, considering how common this mineral is and the low chances of finding one of them.

Geologists are unlikely to classify them as actual gemstones.

Where is Unakite From?

It was first discovered in North Carolina, in the Unakas Mountains.

That’s how it got its name. But there are also deposits in Tennessee, Zimbabwe, and Switzerland.

There’re even some in the Austrian Alps and France.

Where is Epidote Found?

Epidotes are abundant all over the world.

They inhabit several locales.

This ranges from a medium temperature metamorphic environment to one with contact metamorphic limestone.

They’re found in Austria, Pakistan, Alaska, and Connecticut.

They’re also abundant in Idaho, California, Colorado, South America, Italy, and more.

How to Identify a Unakite Stone?

Its distinctive moss green and bright pink coloring make it easy to identify unakite.

Virtually no other rocks on the planet are like it. Plus, each stone has an individual pattern.

What Are the Commercial Uses of Epidotes?

Epidote has no value in most commercial industries.

Its physical properties are not worth the extraction costs. But, it’s different with jewelry.

Their high-quality transparent crystals make eye-catching faceted stones. They stand out best when part of a full collection.

It is still important to note that, although epidotes are hard enough to wear as jewelry.

This is especially true if the designs protect the stones. It’s common in brooches, pins, and earrings.

Epidote’s perfect cleavage means it chips and fractures easily.

What are the Commercial Uses of Unakites?

Unakites are interesting stones too.

Their attractive green and pink hues make them versatile.

It comes as no surprise that unakite is often a decorative piece.

But, its other uses may surprise you.

Unakite’s beauty makes it a unique and complex architectural and decorative stone.

Innovative builders often use them for flooring tiles and stair treads.

Sometimes it’s also used as a construction aggregate.

They crush it up and use the resulting material for gravel road surface and more.

Chances are, you’ve seen it in an architectural structure and not realized it. Its most prominent use is the beautiful trimming on the Smithsonian in Washington.

They also used them as floor tiles on the landing at the South entrance.

The Bottom Line

Epidote and unakite are alike because they’re deeply related on a fundamental level.

It’s almost as if one’s the offspring of the other.

They also have wonderful differences that set them apart in interesting ways.

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Epidote vs Unakite