November 11, 2018 #ChileDiverse

Semi-precious stones from Chile

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Chile is the world's largest exporter of copper and one of the largest gold producers in Latin America. However, these are not the only minerals Chile has to offer. An important part are the Chilean gems, stones that when cut and polished can look like beautiful pieces of jewelry.

In South America, and specifically in Chile, there are several minerals that can be used to produce art and handicraft pieces, whether for decoration, architecture or jewelry, as well as other by-products.
According to Chilean goldsmith Soledad Ávila, the most important Chilean semiprecious stones are:

Lapis lazuli

Photos of semiprecious stones like lapis lazuli

It is the most attractive mineral for tourists visiting Chile, not only because it was declared a national stone in 1984, but also because there are only two deposits in the world: in Afghanistan, and the largest, Flor de Los Andes, which is located 3,600 meters above sea level, in the Andes Mountains, near Ovalle.
It is a semi-precious stone composed of at least 14 different minerals, including lazurite, which gives it its characteristic blue color, wallostonite and calcite, which produce its gray and white veins, and pyrite, which decorates it with its golden reflections.

But this mineral is not only used to produce gems. Flores de los Andes, a company that has been commercializing this mineral since 1990, also supplies the market with a lapis lazuli pigment, a by-product that is mainly used to make paints.

Cross stone

This curious stone from the south of Chile has the unique characteristic of, as its name says, generating the figure of a cross thanks to the black mineral inside. They are found in the Laraquete River, a locality located 57 kilometers south of Concepción and 20 kilometers north of Arauco.

There are two legends about this atypical stone. One says that each cross on the stone represents the soul of a Mapuche Indian who died in defense of his land, and that the hearts of the bodies lying on the slopes of the hills would have turned into stones, which were carried away by the river.
Another, more romantic, says that the cross stones would be petrified tears of a Christian maiden who mourned the loss of her beloved, an Indian chief of the area. However, geologists give a more scientific explanation to this peculiar and beautiful phenomenon.


Along with lapis lazuli, it has been considered Chile's national stone since 1993 and is found only in the town of Combarbalá, 500 kilometers north of Santiago, among the Andean mountains. In this small town almost everything revolves around the local stone, be it its extraction, the production of handicrafts and its commercialization.

The rock is extracted from subway mines and when it comes to light, its attractive colored veins can be appreciated. Its composition includes quartz, silica, clay and oxides of copper and silver.

It is a mineral of the sulfide group, composed of sulfur and iron. It is called "fool's gold" or "false gold" because of its resemblance to this metal. It is bright yellow (gold) with black veins. It is found in Chile, Peru and Brazil.

It is one of the most valued varieties of quartz due to its relative scarcity and its small amounts of nickel. It is light to dark green in color. Its deposits are located in Chile and Brazil.

Also known by the name of luvilite, from the Luvuluz deposits in the Central Alps of Europe, although in that continent it is practically extinct. It is a scarce and little known mineral; it has a violet, reddish violet or brownish yellow color and a vitreous luster, much more transparent and clearer than amethyst.

Also known as turritella agate, it is appreciated by goldsmiths for being an easy to work material, it is formed by a siliceous sedimentary layer, on a chalcedony base, which contains fossil shells of gastropods (like an elongated spiral-shaped snail with many swirls). There are deposits of this mineral both in Argentina and southern Chile.


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