Saturday, August 10, 2013

Gemstone of the Week: Fluorite

(Fluorite image found on gemselect.com)

Fluorite is an under-appreciated gemstone.  While a fairly commonly occurring gemstone, it is still an absolutely gorgeous stone.  Fluorite was discovered in 1529 and was given its name in 1797 by Carlo Antonio Galeani Napione.  Its name comes from the Latin word fluere meaning 'to flow.'  This may sound like a rather strange thing to name the stone, however, there is actually a very logical reason for it.  Fluorite was named for its use as a flux in iron smelting; its purpose was to decrease the viscosity of slag (a glassy man-made byproduct of smelting).  Fluorite is a fairly soft stone only having a hardness 4.  However, despite this relative softness, it is still frequently used in the creation of jewelry.   I've seen it used in just about every type of jewelry, however, it would be best suited to low-impact pieces such as necklaces, pendants, and earrings rather than high-impact risk pieces such as rings or bracelets.  Although the sample pictured above is a beautiful teal coloured gemstone, Fluorite actually comes in a very wide variety of colours.  It may be purple, lilac, blue, green, golden-yellow, colourless, pink, brown, champagne, red, white, black, orange, and is frequently found as a colour-zoned gem (having sections of more than one colour; commonly occur as bands).  Fluorite is also an examples of a gemstone that fluoresces under UV light.  (In fact the word 'fluorescent' derives its name from the gemstone Fluorite because of this trait).  Fluorite has a vitreous or dull luster and may be transparent to sub-translucent. As mentioned earlier, Fluorite is a very widespread gemstone.  It may be found in: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antarctica, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burma(Myanmar), Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada (nearly every province), Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire),  Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Honduras, Guinea, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea (North and South), Kyrgyzstan, Loas, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Niger, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the U.S. (in just about every state), Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and even the moon.

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