Hemimorphite Meaning and Properties

Hemimorphite History

The most unusual thing about hemimorphite is shown in its own name. Hemimorphite gets its name from the Greek words hemi ("half") and morph ("shape") because each end of a hemimorphite crystal has a different shape. One end of each crystal is rather blunt, dominated by a pedion (a single face), while the other is pointed and pyramidal. It is so unusual a behavior in crystal formation that its discoverers highlighted it.

Although it's been a common stone found in the upper layers of zinc deposits for hundreds of years, hemimorphite was only identified in the 19th century. Before that, it was frequently thought to be something more common: chrysocolla, turquoise, calamine, Smithsonite and more. In fact, it was James Smithson, mineralogist of the Smithsonian Institute, who first realized in 1803 that hemimorphite and Smithsonite were, in fact, two different minerals--even though they closely resemble each other and are frequently found together.

The zinc ore called calamine--originally ground to powder for use in calamine lotion--was composed of both hemimorphite and Smithsonite. Which means that sunburn sufferers were calming their itches with ground gemstone!

Hemimorphite received its official name in 1853 from German mineralogist Gustav Adolph Kenngott.

Hemimorphite Metaphysical Properties

Hemimorphite is thought to be a stone of empathy, promoting compassion in all interactions. It is also believed to aid in communication of feelings and the regulation of inner emotions. Practitioners advocate hemimorphite as a stone for detaching from self-ego and bringing about spiritual growth. In the physical realm, hemimorphite is thought to be able to alleviate hormonal headaches, lessen ulcer-related pain and promote weight loss.

While hemimorphite is not an official birthstone, it is closely associated with the zodiac sign of Libra. It is thought to be useful with the heart, third eye and crown chakras.

Hemimorphite Geological Properties

Hemimorphite is a mineral in two different, yet distinct, forms: crystalline or globular. They look like they should be two different gemstones, yet they are the same mineral. Hemimorphite is an important zinc ore, mined from parts of zinc ores for years under a range of names: electric calamine, kieselgalmei (or kieselgalmey), wagite and more.

Hemimorphite showcases bands of translucent blue and white, often mixed with dark matrix. It can often appear as colorless crystals, a pale teal, light brown or--more unusually--pink. This ore of zinc is also pyroelectric: when hemimorphite is heated, it generates an electrical charge.

With its perfect cleavage and low hardness, hemimorphite can be difficult to facet. It is most commonly cut en cabochon. So far, only Mexico has produced gemstone rough suitable for faceting, with quality specimens found in Durango and Chihuahua. The larger stones are very rare.

Hemimorphite can be found in many areas of the world, around or near zinc deposits, yet very few yield gemstone quality rough. Microcrystals and druzy are common. Significant deposits of the stone include Austria, Belgium, China, Congo, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Greece, Namibia, Romania and multiple locations within the United States.

Mineral Information Basic hydrous zinc silicate
Chemical Composition Zn4Si2O7(OH)2 · H2O
Color Colorless, white, pale blue, pale green, gray, brown
Hardness 4-1/2 to 5 (Mohs)
Specific Gravity 3.475
Refractive Index 1.614 - 1.636

Proper Care of Hemimorphite

Hemimorphite can be difficult to cut. Its perfect cleavage, resistance to a high polish and low hardness make it hard to facet into standard shapes. Hemimorphite druzy is a popular option, though that can be harder to clean. With a hardness lower than quartz (a component of standard dust), hemimorphite should be cleaned using warm water, a mild detergent and a soft brush. Store in a soft bag or place it inside a fabric-lined jewelry box to prevent hemimorphite from getting scratched or split by a careless impact. Absolutely avoid steam or ultrasonic cleaners. Keep away from household chemicals, detergents, perfumes and hairsprays. Remove hemimorphite jewelry before exercising, playing sports or performing household chores.

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

Designing with Hemimorphite

Hemimorphite is an uncommon gemstone material and is usually a collector's stone, not often used for jewelry. Its creamy blue and blue-green tones make it an attractive material for a range of styles. The blue colors can be highlighted with high-contrast materials such a sunstone, or brought into a medley of water colors when strung with amazonite, apatite, blue lace agate and similar stones. Hemimorphite looks elegant with white pearls or frosted quartz, accenting any white banding that may exist in the stones.

With roughly the same hardness as opal or turquoise and its perfect cleavage when struck, it is somewhat fragile for many jewelry forms--especially rings, bracelets and anklets. Hemimorphite should be limited to earrings, pendants, pins or brooches and any cabochons need to be set into well-protected mountings.

Shop for Hemimorphite Items

**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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