Phenakite is a rare mineral, found as white or colorless tabular crystals or stubby prisms. Twinning is common and this is one of the properties that distinguishes it from rock crystal. The crystals are often rhombohedral and sometimes prismatic, showing wedge-shaped ends. Magnificent etching is apparent especially in specimens from Nigeria. Large clean stones are always sought by collectors but even smaller stones are in demand and relatively easy to sell.
Found in high-temperature pegmatite veins and in mica-schists associated with quartz, chrysoberyl, apatite and topaz, phenakite occurs as isolated crystals. Phenakite is a rare nesosilicate mineral consisting of beryllium orthosilicate, Be2SiO4. There is no cleavage, and its fracture is conchoidal. The specific gravity is 2.96. With a Mohs hardness of 7.5 – 8, phenakite is a relatively tough and durable gemstone.
Phenakite was first found in the early 19th century in the emerald mines of the Sverdlovskaya region in the eastern foothills of the Ural Mountains in Southern Russia. Later it was also found in other parts of the Urals. Today, it as been found on nearly every continent, but never in significant quantities.
Well defined crystals of Phenakite have also found in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado (USA). Other occurrences include; Kragero, Norway; Alsace province France; Mogok, Myanmar; Brazil, Switzerland, East Africa, Burma, Madagascar, Italy, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria.
The most important recent discoveries have been in Madagascar and Nigeria.
In Madagascar, the material was mined at the turn of the millennium from a single remote locality in Abalavato. A few years later, that deposit was covered by a landslide and since then, no substantial occurrences of Madagascar phenakites have been reported.
In Nigeria phenakite was discovered in the year 2008 by Tunde Jimba (Min.), the lead miner for Salistone Ventures. The stone was found at a depth of 45 feet and some large, clean, and impressive crystals were recovered. The Salistone Mine is located on the Jos Plateau, in Plateau State of Nigeria. The name "OKUTA-DIDAN" in Native Yoruba language, meaning "A shinning stone", was given to this gemstone and is often referenced as the mine name which it is not. This local name was given to phenakite because of its high transparency and reflectivity dissimilar to any other stones in the region. Production continues at a limited level and there is never much material on the market.
Phenakite is always sought for its metaphysical properties and has always been near the top of every empowering gemstone list. It is said to possess a host of remedial values. It is said to offer protective energy and to enhances one’s sense of the self. Phenakite supposedly gets rid of negative emotions. Despair, denial, a desire for revenge, or a death wish are said to be alleviated with phenakite. With this gemstone, our problems allegedly become our teachers enabling a path to the future.