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Chemical composition Ca2(Mg,Al)6(Si,Al,B)6O20
Crystal system Triclinic
Habit Tabular/Granular
Cleavage None
Fracture Sub-concoidal, uneven
Hardness 6-7
Optic nature Biaxial (+) or (-)
Refractive index 1.701-1.706
Birefringence .005
Specific gravity 3.42-3.52
Lustre Vitreous
Pleochroism Strong

X: pale yellow, yellow-green to blue-green
Y: almost colorless, pale yellow, blue-green, blue
Z: pale blue to dark blue

Serendibite from Kolonne,Sri Lanka
Photo courtesy of

Faceted Sri Lankan Serendibites
Microscopic features:
Isolated twin lamellae, partially healed fissure, fracture, tiny mineral inclusions, polysynthetic twinning
Photo courtesy Mr. George Bosshart, research gemologist from Horgen-Zurich, Switzerland


Serendibite was discovered at Gangapitiya, near Ambakotte, Sri Lanka, in 1902 by G.T. Prior and A.K. Coomaraswamy. Prior and Coomaraswamy named the mineral ‘serendibite,’ which is derived from ‘serendib,’ an old Arabic term for Sri Lanka.

Serendibite is rarely found as facet-grade material. Before the 2005 discovery of serendibite in Mogok, Myanmar, there were only 3 known faceted serendibites, which were from the original Sri Lankan find. The serendibite from Sri Lanka and Myanmar is believed to be the only sources for facet-grade material. Sri Lankan Serendibite was an attractive greenish or violet-blue, while the stones from Myanmar are dark black.

In the second half of the 1990’s, gem-quality serendibite was discovered from secondary deposits in the Ratnapura area of Sri Lanka.

The rare gem material, serendibite, is characterized with regard to gemological, chemical, and spectroscopic properties. Spectroscopic features such as US-Vis-NIR and infrared ranges, as well as Raman and photoluminescence data, are considered more for identification of serendibite.

Serendibite may be confused with sapphirine and zoisite due to similarity in color and almost identical properties but refractive indices, twinning, and spectra can be used to separate these gem materials.

The distinction from sapphirine and the known low-bearing, gem-quality serendibite can be made by careful measurement of refractive indices, with sapphirine having a higher refractive index of 1.700. Higher contents of iron in serendibite may cause misleading refractive index readings and may require further gemological examinations such as spectroscopy and microscopy.

The optical properties and specific gravity of serendibite and zoisite may completely overlap. The color of the chromium and chromium-bearing Tanzanian zoisite is quite similar to serendibite. A distinction may be made on the basis of the lamellar or polysynthetic twinning of gem-quality and non-gem quality serendibite samples from various locations.

Geological occurrence:

It “occurs in skarns, affected by boron metasomatism, along the contact between carbonate rocks and granite, tonalite, or granulite.”

Geological distribution: Sri Lanka: Gangapitiya, near Ambakotte Myanmar: Mogok USA: near Johnsburg, Warren Co., Amity, near Warwick, Orange Co., and Russell, St. Lawrence Co., New York; and in the New City quarry, 3km south of Riverside, Riverside Co., California Canada: Melville Peninsula, Northwest Territories Russia: Tayozhnoye iron deposit Tanzania: 550 km south of Yakutsk, Yakutia, from the Handeni district Madagascar: Ianapera and Ihosy

Chemical composition

Combination of calcium, magnesium, aluminum, silicon, boron and oxygen


Black Serendibite, Mogok
Photo courtesy of House of Onyx
Grayish blue-green to deep blue, black, green, or brown; in transmitted light, nearly colorless to pale yellow-green or blue

UV fluorescence:

Long wave: Inert
Short wave: Inert

References and Additional Information

  • “Serendibite from Sri Lanka,” by Karl Schmetzer, George Bosshart, Heinz-Jurgen Burnhardt, Edward J. Gubelin, and Christopher P. Smith, Gems & Gemology, Volume 38, Number 1, pp. 73-79, © 2002 Gemological Institute of America

Kind permission granted for resources by:

  • Speer, Dr. J. Alexander, Executive Director, Mineralogical Society of America, 3635 Concorde Pkwy Suite 500, Chantilly, VA, 20151-1125, USA, Handbook of Mineralogy

  • Prior, G.T., M.A., F.G.S., and Coomaraswamy, A.K., B.Sc., F.G.S., F.L.S. (1902) Serendibite, a new borosilicate from Ceylon

  • Mineral Data Publishing (2001, Version 1.2), “Serendibite”