Vanadinite is a crystalline gemstone that contains vanadium. No surprise there. You can see it in the root word. You may be surprised to know that vanadinite also contains lead and chlorine. Chemically, vanadinite is lead chlorovanadate, or Pb5(VO4)3Cl. Vanadinite is a favorite of rock hounds and gemstone jewelry lovers alike.
Blood-red hexagonal crystals constitute vanadinite’s most common form with the crystals ranging in size from very small to large. The smaller the crystals, the more glittery they look. When the crystals are large, they pile onto one another in cubic or geometric creations. This size distinction makes smaller crystalline specimens the favorite of jewelry makers and large specimens the centerpiece of rock collections.
The most stunning specimens of vanadinite crystals, both large and small, come from Morocco. Other sources of vanadinite include Mexico, Arizona, South Africa, and Argentina.
Vanadinite occurs most frequently in a deep blood-red color. The color can range from bright red to burnt orange to a reddish brown. But vanadinite also shows up in the distinctly non-red colors of gray, yellow, and colorless.
Vanadinite is formed by the oxidation of lead (Pb) minerals. As such, vanadinite is found in association with deposits of galena and lead sulfide. As an ore, vanadinite is a more important source of vanadium than it is of lead. Vanadium is used in the production of steel and steel alloys. Vanadium is also an important metal additive in titanium alloys, which are used in jet engines, airframes, and human prostheses such as artificial knee joints.
Handcrafted jewelry takes advantage of vanadinite’s glitter, deep red color, and special techniques such as wire wrapping in jewelry for fabrication or abstract wire wraps for designs featuring the center stone. Besides jewelry, other industries find use for the vanadium in vanadinite ores for metal-strengthening additives, especially in titanium alloys, the substance of light-weight metal eyeglass frames. Either way, vanadinite plays a role in high style and fashion.