Marcasite Meaning and Properties

Marcasite History

The metallic shine of marcasite has been valued by numerous civilizations since antiquity. Marcasite is named for the Medieval Latin term "marcasita," a derivative of the Arabic word "markaschatsa," meaning "fire stone." This term isn't in reference to marcasite's beautiful metallic shine. Marcasite can actually spark when struck with iron or flint.

The Ancient Incans, Greeks and Egyptians all valued marcasite. It was not uncommon to see Cleopatra herself adorned in marcasite gemstones. Marcasite was especially popular in the 18th and 19th centuries of Edwardian jewelry when it was most commonly cut into tiny stones and set in sterling silver. The Art Nouveau period and The Gilded Age weren't shy about using marcasite, often creating jewelry with tiny marcasite gems alongside pearls, diamonds or brightly colored gems. A resurgence of interest in vintage jewelry brought marcasite to heightened popularity again during the 1990s and on.

Marcasite Metaphysical Properties

Marcasite is said to be a gemstone used for powerful meditation. Marcasite gems aid in introspection and tend to resonate more strongly with higher, more spiritual chakras. According to many beliefs, marcasite is a talisman associated with wisdom, courage and expression.

Metaphysical properties of marcasite also suggest it is a stone that inspires creativity when it comes to the arts and architecture. The stone helps fight intellectual fatigue, making it a favorite for students who are studying for big tests.

Marcasite Geological Properties

Marcasite is iron sulfide with an orthorhombic crystal structure. It is not uncommon for marcasite to be confused for pyrite. Pyrite is iron sulfide with a cubic crystal structure. So while these stones have the same chemical formula with short bonding distances between sulfur atoms, the structures differ in how exactly they bond. Marcasite is also less common than pyrite and tends to weigh slightly less.

Mineral Information Iron sulfide
Chemical Composition FeS2
Color Grey-black with a black matrix
Hardness 6 to 6-1/2 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 4.8 - 5.2
Refractive Index Over 1.81

Proper Care of Marcasite

Marcasite is a gemstone that requires a little more attention to care and cleaning than others. Marcasite gems can tarnish when exposed to high humidity, so it's best to not submerge the stone in water or use steam cleaners and boiling methods. Harsh chemicals can dull the shine of marcasite. To clean marcasite, gently wipe with a very soft, damp cloth. Dry with a clean, soft and absorbent cloth that does not contain rouge or other impregnations. Ensure the stone and surrounding settings is completely dry. It is best to store marcasite jewelry in low-humidity conditions alongside an anti-tarnish strip.

To learn more about marcasite and other gemstones, order your copy of Walter Schumann's revised and expanded edition of Gemstones of the World.

Designing with Marcasite

Most commonly, marcasite is combined with polished or antiqued sterling silver for a sophisticated air. Black gemstones such as onyx, jet and spinel are favorites for pairing with marcasite gemstones. The silvery glint of marcasite creates heightened drama alongside these black-colored gems. Harkening back to the Gilded Age, marcasite is also a favorite to use in conjunction with pearls of all colors from bright white to creamy pastels as well as darker hues like Bordeaux.

View design inspirations featuring marcasite in the Gallery of Designs

Shop for Marcasite Items

Additional Resources ...

**Please note that all metaphysical or healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads® does not guarantee the validity of any of these statements.

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