HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Vanadinite, pronounced vah-NAY-dinn-ite, was recognized as a new mineral species in 1801 and named in 1838 for the essential element vanadium. Notable collecting localities are found in Morocco, Zambia, Namibia, Mexico, Australia, Chile, England, Austria, and the United States (Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, California).
MINERALOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Vanadinite [lead chlorovanadate, Pb5(VO4)3Cl] crystallizes in the hexagonal system as small, prismatic crystals with distinct, hexagonal cross sections that are sometimes hopper-shaped or hollow. Crystals are transparent to translucent; the color is usually orange-red, but can range to red or yellow-brown. Color zoning and multi-colored crystals are common. Vanadinite has a Mohs hardness of 2.8-3.0, no discernible cleavage, and a specific gravity of 6.7-7.1. It is an uncommon, secondary mineral that forms from the oxidation of primary sulfide minerals and usually occurs as vein, fracture, or vug fillings.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: Modern metaphysical practitioners believe that vanadinite helps bring emotional sensitivity to analytical minds, generally enhances sensitivity, helps to clear confusion and feelings of purposelessness, and assists in grounding and centering. Transparent vanadinite crystals are sometimes faceted into collectors’ gems to display their rich, orange-red color. Vanadinite was the only known source of vanadium until the 1870s, and was also once a minor ore of lead.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: Because of its bright color, rarity of good specimens, unusual chemistry, and interesting mineralogical associations, vanadinite is one of the most collectible of all minerals.