Actinolite is a type of gemstone in the amphibole group that is a chain silicate. It is used primarily in ornamental carvings and jewelry. However, it also comes in an asbestos form as well. It’s found throughout the world yet is still considered fairly rare except in the nephrite form.
One of the most popular forms is called Cat’s Eye. When light hits the center of the domed stone, a slit will appear making the stone look just like a cat’s eye. The gemstone’s properties, metaphysical characteristics and other facts make it worth considering especially for those seeking something really unique.
General Information about Actinolite
Actinolite has been used for centuries by cultures that used it because it was so tough. It was often used to carve sculptures and for other tools that required a hard edge and could withstand hard work. Actinolite was also used in countries like China for ornamental and religious purposes.
The gem was named in 1794 by mineralogist Richard Kirwan. The name came from the Greek word “aktina” meaning “ray” and “lithos” meaning “stone” due to its thin, hairlike filaments. It was also referred to as “Thetis’ hair” who was the goddess of the sea.
In one form, it’s fibrous yet translucent nature made it unique when cut generating the appearance of what looked like a slit down the center when light hit it. As a result, it was nicknamed Cat’s Eye.
Properties of Actinolite
- Alternative Names: Cat’s Eye, Mountain Leather, Mountain Cork, Mountain Wood, Nephrite Jade, Smaragdite, Hexagonite, Byssolite, Axe Stone, Emerald Spar.
- Varieties: amianthus, asbestos, asbestos amphibole, byssolite, chatoyant, ferro-actinolite, Hotan jade, nephrite, smaragdite and uralite.
- Hardness: 5 – 6.
- Color: light to dark green, grayish green to black, yellowish green or colorless – white or gray when in asbestos.
- Transparency: translucent, rarely transparent.
- Luster: vitreous, silky to dull.
- Habit: Elongated prismatic crystals, bladed groups, columnar, fibrous, reticulated, radial and acicular. They also are found radiating in wheat sheaf formations, tough interlocking fibers and as thin hairlike masses that sometimes appear massive.
- Crystal System: monoclinic.
- Cleavage: prismatic perfect in 2 directions.
- Fracture: uneven, splintery.
- Tenacity: brittle with fibrous forms elastic.
Actinolite occurs naturally as bladed crystals, columnar forms that are kinked or bent, radiating fibrous to asbestiform or as granular to massive forms. It is most frequently found in metamorphic rocks, hydrothermal replacement deposits, igneous basal and in Serpentine deposits. In fibrous form, it is classified as one of the asbestos group.
It is said that Actinolite is often confused with other gemstones like minnesotaite, stilphnomeland and tremolite. It is one of the few gemstones that is found not only in many colors but different varieties as well. What makes it unique is the amount of iron it contains. Although the iron content will vary greatly between varieties, the more iron in a sample the darker the green color.
Metaphysical Details about Actinolite
Actinolite is associated with the heart chakra. It is the vessel that contains all the emotions and feelings a person has. In that capacity, it is used to balance the heart’s energies while also providing spiritual and physical healing. It brings harmony to relationships.
The mineral can also help an individual enhance their ability to be benevolent to all the world’s creatures. Due to its similarity to jade, it is also believed to carry the powers and energies of that stone as well. As a result, it is believed to repel negative thoughts while enhancing physical balance.
On a physical plane, Actinolite promotes the production of white blood cells. In that way, it improves the immune system while also aiding kidney and liver functions, reducing the effects of stress and balances metabolism. On a spiritual level, it helps individuals make connections with their spirit guides. It increases their ability to become more attuned to the energies of the universe and heightens insight. Most importantly, it traps chaos while remaining highly protective.
How to Wear It
Actinolite is hard to cut but easy to cleave. The power of the gemstone works best when it’s touching your body rather just being within your proximity like on a night table. It’s most likely you’ll find jewelry made of the Cat’s Eye form. Pendants, earrings, rings and bracelets will keep the energy near your heart which will maximize its effects. It works especially well when mixed with other gemstones.
Actinolite should not be worn when doing activities as it tends to be somewhat brittle. It must also be kept away from chemicals as it is extremely sensitive to corrosives.
Where Can We Find Actinolite Today?
Actinolite is found throughout the world but is primarily mined in Austria, Canada, Italy, Madagascar, Nambia, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Taiwan, Tanzania and the U.S. In fact, some of the most extensive deposits of the Nephrite form are mined in the Granit Mountains of Wyoming.
The asbestos form was originally mined in Australia but when it was found how dangerous it was to the human body, the way it was mined changed drastically. Today asbestos is found primarily in older homes and automobiles as well as in the lining of gaskets and brakes.
The dust from asbestos Actinolite can cause serious and irreversible lung disease when it’s inhaled. Originally, when mined, precautions were not taken and many miners developed long-term damage to their lungs during their time on the job. Some even died of lung cancer, which is known to be a consequence of inhaling asbestos dust. Fortunately, the asbestos form is not available to the general public.
Actinolite’s properties, metaphysical characteristics and background make it quite unique. It is one of the few gemstones that is believed to help individuals see how they are part of a larger universe. Beyond that, however, it’s a beautiful alternative if you’re seeking an affordable emerald or jade-like looking piece of jewelry.
Do you have a story you’d like to share about this gem? Feel free to leave it or any other thoughts you might have in the comments below.