Magnesite

Magnesite is often regarded as a nuisance stone. It shares this unfortunate position with Howlite, as they are both often dyed to create a fake Turquoise, which is either missold to consumers, or branded as Turqurenite in an attempt to confuse.

Magnesite itself is an unusual stone with some interesting formations – to tell the truth, it often reminds me of the heads of cauliflower. It is chalky white and not a particularly decorative stone until it is dyed.

It is rather useful to keep a piece around to quickly show people how Turquoise can be faked, though.

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Appearance, Uses and History

Magnesite is primarily used to produce magnesium oxide, which is used as a refractory material, particularly in the steel industry.

It is often carved and dyed for jewellery usage, particularly in blue and green tones, intended to resemble Turquoise.

Research is currently being undertaken into trying to lock carbon dioxide into Magnesite in order to offset the greenhouse gas damage to our environment.


Locales

Magnesite can be found in Australia, Austria, Brazil (some very nice crystalline specimens), China, Czechia, Greece, India, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, and the USA.

However, many of these countries may mine the mineral purely for industrial use, and not many specimens may enter the collectors market.


Mineralogy

Chemistry
A Magnesium carbonate mineral with the chemical formula MgCO3.
Colours and Variations
Commonly white/colourless, sometimes with a faint hue of pink, yellow, brown. However, it readily accepts dyes and this gives an extremely bright stone.
Streak
White
Luster
Vitreous
Fracture
Conchoidal
Transparency
When crystalline, translucent to transparent.
However, most Magnesite in jewellery use is in opaque nuggets.
Crystal habit
Usually massive/nodular. Can occur as prismatic crystals.
Mohs hardness
3.5- 4.5
Specific Gravity
3.0 – 3.2
Fluorescence
Sometimes a pale green or pale blue.
Easiest testing method
Can be difficult to distinguish from Howlite, especially when cut. Dilute acid testing may be an option.
Common Treatments
Often dyed bright colours, or dyed to resemble turquoise.

Photos of Magnesite

Magnesite nodule from Bernartice, Czech Republic

Photos of dyed Magnesite


Hazards and Warnings

Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.

When cutting or polishing rocks, minerals, shells, etc, all work should be done wet to minimise the dust, and a suitable respirator or extraction system should be used.


Translations

Arabic:

Hindi:

  • मैग्नेसाइट

Portuguese:

  • Magnesita

Bengali:

  • ম্যাগনেসাইট

Indonesian:

Punjabi:

English:

  • magnesite

Italian:

Russian:

  • Магнезит

French:

  • Magnésite

Japanese:

  • 菱苦土鉱

Spanish:

  • Baldissérita
  • Giobertita
  • Magnesianita
  • Magnesita
  • Roubschita

German:

  • Baldissérit
  • Giobertit
  • Magnesianit
  • Mesitit
  • Roubschit

Korean:

  • 마그네사이트

Thai:

Gujurati:

Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:

  • 菱镁矿

Urdu:


Further Reading / External Links