A piece of gem tugtupite from Greenland


A piece of gemmy tugtupite from Greenland under shortwave light


Chemical formula: Na4AlBeSi4O12Cl.  Hardness = 6.5, Density = 2.35

Perhaps the most famous mineral found in Greenland is tugtupite - and is certainly the main quest of those who travel to this remote area. Local villagers spend much of their free time in pursuit of this stone and many legends have risen around the tugtupite stone and its meaning.

Tutu - Inuit legend attributes tugtupite to “Tutu” - the reindeer girl. Tutu went to the mountains to give birth to her first child and during birth the miraculous life-giving bloods seeped into the mountain stones and created tugtupite. Thus it is known for life, romance and fertility.

Tugtupite is one of the world’s few deep red gemstones, sometimes translucent, and always brightly fluorescent. Often referred to as the "king of fluorescent minerals", it is known worldwide for its beauty under ultraviolet light. When exposed to UV light (or sunlight) the color deepens to a beautiful saturated red, sometimes to an almost grape color (a tenebrescent property). This color change can last for weeks, and is easily restored simply by exposure to sunlight. Heat and moisture also accentuate the color.

It was first discovered in 1957 close to the town of Narsaq and to-date has only been found in two other areas - Mt. St. Hilaire (Canada) and the Kola Peninsula (Russia).  Tugtupite at Kvanefjeld is scattered in irregular hydrothermal veins up to 50cm wide. 

Tugtupite varies in color from white, pink, to red and crimson.  Some blue/white specimens have been recorded.  The fluorescence is a brilliant red under short-wave ultraviolet light, and a salmon-red under longwave UV.  After exposure to UV (or exposure to sunlight) the red coloration is enhanced (tenebrescense).  Tugtupite occurs as irregular forms in whitish albite veins with grey-green lujavrite rock.  It can be found throughout the Ilimaussaq Complex, but the specimens from Kvanefjeld are the most sought after - as both jewelry rough and mineral specimens.  It is most often found associated with albite, analcime, beryllite, aegirine, neptunite, and pyrochlore.  Most often it is massive, very few well developed crystals have been found.

Tugtupite Variations - found in nearly every locale we visit in the Ilimaussaq Complex.  Sometimes it is the primary mineral (and those types are listed below) but often it is found as an accessory to other minerals, or is found in very small quantities, not justifying a "variety" page of tis own.

We have Tugtupite for sale here in our mineral shop!

Tugtupite under shortwave UV light


Tugtupite from the Kvanefjeld area is the most widely known fluorescent mineral from Ilimaussaq.  It is typically a bright gemmy red and is the source for the gem material used in making beautiful tugtupite cabochons.  A typical piece of gem tugtupite will be found in an analcime and lujavrite matrix, often along with aegirine crystals.  The natural color ranges from a light pink to a deep cherry red.  Under shortwave the red glow is unmistakable.  Commonly associated (fluorescent) minerals include chkalovite, beryllite, and sorensenite.

Taseq tugtupite displaying tenebrescence

Taseq Tugtupite

Found in veins towards the top of the slopes, this variety of tugtupite is quite different from that found on Kvanefjeld.  It consists of a coarse grained pink veining in massive crystals of analcime.  Often pieces are associated with aegirine (non FL) and what appears to be a spotty green fluorescent analcime (or remnants of chkalovite).  Many pieces have vugs where micro crystals of tugtupite can be found.  Daylight color ranges from a light pink to deep pink, This material is also usually quite phosphorescent.  It also usually shows a significant color change under midwave UV light.

Close up of pink tugtupite crystals

Tugtupite Crystals

One of our tour members in 2002 found a boulder of tugtupite on the eastern slopes.  When he cracked it open he found a cavity of wonderfully formed tugtupite crystals!  Since then, many pieces have been found with micro crystals but this piece was truly remarkable in size.  Although not a gemmy red, the tugtupite deepened in color to an intense pink.  A coating of what appears to be a uranyl activated green FL covered many areas on the specimens, along with a yellowish glow – perhaps from another associated (unknown) mineral.

Large piece of Tugtupite from Greenland

Kangerlussaq Tugtupite

A gem variety of tugtupite found in the Kangerlussaq Fjord area.  Usually associated with polylithionite, chkalovite, and sodalite.  Responses vary widely under different wavelengths and is very bright material.


Blue Tugtupite is an extreme rarity.

Few people have seen (or even know of) blue tugtupite. It's so rare that it is almost an urban legend. In the past 17 years we've been traveling to Greenland and dealing in the minerals we've only seen a couple of pieces. This is the best piece we have in our personal collection. It is from the same area the famous tugtupite mines are located on Kvanefjeld, Ilimaussaq Complex.

The pictures show it under white light and shortwave. Under UV it looks like any other piece of tugtupite - the typical bright cherry red SW and salmon LW. But the blue color in white light is simply amazing. There is an unsubstantiated rumor that exposure to UV will cause blue tugtupite to fade. We have not tested it and have no plans to. We also have not checked for tenebrescence.

The matrix on this piece is analcime.

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