Sodalite tiger carving. Image by the Guangzhou Mineralbiz Craftz Trading Co., for sale at http://www.tjskl.org.cn
We have all seen sodalite at one time or another or owned a piece in our childhood rock collections, with its creamy white swirls and rich blues. It can bear a striking resemblance to lapis lazuli, but sodalite is more of a royal blue and usually does not contain pyrite.
Sodalite is named for the presence of sodium, but it is actually 40% oxygen, with the rest as roughly equal parts sodium, aluminum, and silicon, topped with a dash of chlorine (Na8(Al6Si6O24)Cl2). We usually see it as opaque blue stones, but when it forms crystals it is often milky white or clear. There are also green, yellow, and pink specimens. Sodalite tends to be highly fluorescent, glowing bright orange or red under ultraviolet light. Hackmanite is a fun and rare form of sodalite with a pale white or purple hue that temporarily becomes richer after exposure to ultraviolet light (or the reverse, depending on where it is from), a phenomenon called tenebrescence.
Hackmanite before, during, and after exposure to short wave UV light. Image by and item for sale at http://www.thebeautyintherocks.com/hackmanite-2-13-ct.html
Sodalite was first discovered in Greenland in 1811, but only gained popularity as a gemstone when large deposits were found in Ontario, Canada in 1891. Today China, India and Brazil are also major exporters of sodalite. When it is found it is usually as huge boulders, meaning you can even have a sodalite countertop in your home if you desire. At around 6 Mohs and a with tendency to have natural fracture lines, sodalite should be treated a little more gently in jewelry. The darker, more uniform stones tend to be the most valuable.
Sodalite cabochons. Image by and items for sale at http://www.jewelrysupply.com/
Blue stones are always associated with clarity of the mind and higher thinking, with sodalite being no exception. It is said to boost confidence, intuition, and self-esteem, as well as get the creative juices flowing.