Magnesite figures prominently today in jewelry. This interesting mineral, sometimes mistaken for Turquoise, generates a lot of excitement among artists and fashion designers. If you enjoy jewelry, you’ll want to learn more about this fascinating rock. We are going to share with you everything you need to know about it.
The History of Magnesite
Today no one knows the name of the person who first discovered this stone. Deposits occur with great frequency in many parts of the world, including mountainous areas of Austria, Italy, Scandinavia, Russia, Canada, the United States, China and other places around the world.
Some Native American tribes placed a high value on this rock, in some cases even using it as a form of money. It played an important role as a beading material and source of wealth among the Pomo People of the Pacific Coast, for instance. Artists would obtain grey-white samples from White Buttes and fire them to create a variety of colorful banded pink and orange shades. Designers sometimes added additional minerals to obtain unique hues. Fashioned into cylindrical or spherical shapes, these prized beads functioned as a form of early currency among certain Native American communities in the region.
Magnesite contributes to a number of important modern industries. Taxidermists use it to create a paste to whiten the bones of dead animals for display purposes. It also sometimes contributes to commercial laxative formulations, and in a pure form functions as an antacid.
Magnesite serves as an important magnesium ore, too. When metallurgists learned to extract the metal magnesium in large quantities for commercial uses, Magnesite attained importance in the mining industry in many countries. More recently, in 2008 scientists reported the presence of Magnesite on the planet Mars.
Properties of Magnesite
What unique properties contribute to the versatility of this stone? An odorless mineral, Magnesite possesses the chemical formula of MgCO3, i.e. magnesium carbonate. It belongs to the calcite group and occurs naturally in an anhydrous salt form, but in some rare cases will form trigonal-rhombohedral crystals.
It does not possess the hardness of most brilliant gemstones. A fairly soft and malleable rock, this mineral ranks between 3.5 and 4.5 on the 10-point Moh’s Scale of Hardness. Perhaps for this reason, it does not lend itself to multi-faceting like harder corundums or diamonds, although it does furnish an excellent surface for beading.
Since most deposits also contain other elements, especially traces of iron and calcium, magnesium carbonate itself rarely occurs in a pure form. Some gem collectors prize it in white crystalline form. Enthusiasts can find it in various colors. In addition to completely transparent presentations, it frequently occurs in white, brown, light gray, pale yellow, light pink or even light green shades. The surface typically appears a bit dull. However, since this material remains porous, it will accept dyes more readily than some other types of stones. Jewelry-makers can color it in a wide range of brilliant hues. It will also sometimes change color when exposed to fire.
Rock hunters locate this material in sedimentary or metamorphic deposits, and can often identify it easily because it will fluoresce under ultraviolet light. Since dyed samples sometimes enter the jewelry trade incorrectly labeled as Turquoise, another gem favored in vintage Native American jewelry, this property proves very valuable in distinguishing these two minerals. Calcite also fluoresces, so distinguishing magnesium carbonate from Calcite proves more difficult.
According to popular lore, Magnesite harbors potent metaphysical values. Some people maintain it will enhance meditation and exert a mentally calming effect. Individuals seeking stronger psychic skills sometimes use the stone as an aid to enhance emotional sensitivity.
Sometimes described as a mineral promoting stronger “emotional balance”, this material maintains associations with the astrological sign of Aries and the Moon. In jewelry, magnesium carbonate reportedly furnishes believers in magic with protection against hostile psychic attacks or dangerous incorporeal radiations.
Examples of Famous Jewelry
Not surprisingly, given its fascinating properties, this stone has interested artists and bead makers since ancient times. Today, some excellent examples of Native American jewelry incorporate it into fine bracelets, necklaces and other adornments. Due to the softness of magnesium carbonate, however, it may not survive for extended periods of time in jewelry collections.
Few celebrated vintage items of jewelry manufactured from this material remain. Nonetheless, experts know it almost certainly played a significant role in many creative traditions. From India to China, Australia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the Western Hemisphere, both the widespread nature of its deposits and the ease of coloring and carving this soft mineral permitted its use by ancient jewelry makers (who frequently lacked extensive hardened metal work tools). While few early craftsmen could perform faceting on diamonds to make them sparkle, they could insert fired or dyed Magnesite into metal settings.
Many talented artisans have developed exceptionally lovely contemporary pieces. Today, customers aware of the softness of this stone can exercise precautions to protect items of Magnesite jewelry from damage through accidental bumps and scrapes. It offers a cost-effective alternative to some rare gems for beading and craft purposes.
For example, Kristine of Jewelry by Kristine created a unique beaded leather wrap by focusing upon pink Magnesite. Similarly, Catherine of ShadowDogDesigns often works in this medium, crafting exquisite earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. In the United States, Native American jewelry making traditions associated with this mineral continue today.
Magnesite, a beautiful and diverse mineral, currently provides distinctive contributions to the jewelry and fashion trades. It offers a striking addition to modern rings, bracelets, and necklaces. Owners must exercise care to protect this comparatively delicate material from harsh handling or corrosive substances. More easily damaged than Opal, this treasured mineral demands gentle handling.
Where It Is Found Today
Today, Magnesite occurs widely in every continent. Large deposits appear in China in Manchuria, and in Russia’s Ural Mountains. Turkey also produces magnesium carbonate.
Please take action and share your views about Magnesite by providing comments at the end of this article. Unique and very lovely, Magnesite can enrich your life!