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Marcasite Gemstone

Marcasite boasts a natural ability to reflect light,  and  due  to  its  brilliant  lustre,  jewellery  designers  often  use  it  as  a  replacement  for Diamond  accents.  The  name  is  derived  from the Arabic word for Pyrite, for which it is often  mistaken, so much so that experts within the field of gemmology still discuss the issue at length.

As a  pseudomorphic  gem,  the  atoms  replace themselves with other minerals so effectively they  can change their whole identity (pseudomorph is a Latin word meaning “false shape”).  Often the effect with Marcasite is noticeable on the surface of the gemstone as a thin skin of iron, which in turn creates a beautiful iridescent sheen.

It  is  also  interesting  that  Marcasites  with  an iridescent  oxide  coating  have  been  known  to  shine longer without polishing than non-coated  Marcasites. Perhaps the gem is trying to protect  itself when it pseudomorphs; in the same way an  oyster or mollusc will when alien particles get  into the shell - just a thought! 

Marcasite was a popular gem in Victorian times  and today tends to be associated with antique  jewellery.  This  type  of  retro  antique  design  is  once  again  becoming  fashionable  and  the  demands for such pieces are only set to increase.

The gem is mined in several locations around the  globe and a deposit of Marcasite with an intense  lustre has been mined in the Swiss Alps since the  late 1800’s. It has a rating of up to 6.5 on the  Mohs scale and is therefore a reliable, durable  gemstone that can last when worn on a frequent  basis.

When  it  comes  to  origin,  Switzerland  is  to  Marcasite what Ceylon and Cashmere (Kashmir)  are to Sapphire. No other origin yet discovered  can match Swiss Marcasite in terms of surface  cleanliness and lustre. Whilst Thailand may be  the largest producer in the world of Marcasite  jewellery, the quality of Marcasite mined within  its own borders is nowhere near comparable with those unearthed in Switzerland.

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The above two pieces from Jewels of Valais

featuring genuine Swiss Marcasite.