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Hemimorphite Properties, Meaning, Facts and Photos

blue hemimorphite mineral

What is Hemimorphite?

Hemimorphite is a zinc silicate which is a chemical compound of zinc, silicon and oxygen atoms.   It was once believed to be the same mineral as Smithsonite which is a zinc carbonate.  Zinc carbonate is a compound of zinc, carbon and oxygen atoms.

The confusion was because of the similarity of the two minerals' external appearance.

Until the early 1800's both were known as 'calamine'.

The British chemist and mineralogist James Smithson then discovered from a chemical and crystallography perspective both were quite distinct.  It was then confirmed they were two different minerals.

The zinc carbonate was later renamed Smithsonite after James Smithson.  Hemimorphite came from the Greek words 'hēmi'' meaning 'half' and 'morphē' meaning 'form' in reference to the stone's hemimorphism.

A mineral that's hemimorphic has a different crystal habit at opposite ends of the same crystal.

Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote about hemimorphite and referred to it as 'galmei'.  Other ancient writers referred to it as cadmia which is an oxide of zinc.

The name 'calamine' came from the corrupted Greek word cadmia.  German geologist and mineralogist Gustav Kenngott [1818-1897] renamed it albeit unofficially, 'hemimorphite'.

American clergyman and mineral dealer Ebenezer Seymour described hemimorphite in 1868 following studies of samples from Romania.  The obsolete name 'calamine' remained in use until the 1930's. 

the mineral hemimorphite

Hemimorphite Crystal Properties

Hemimorphite has moderate hardness, is brittle and has a maze of hairline fractures.  These characteristics make it extremely difficult to cut.  For this reason when used as a gemstone it tends to be polished as a cabochon.

Blue hemimorphite can resemble the mineral turquoise or is sometimes mistaken for larimar.  This material has started being marketed as 'Chinese larimar'.

We are aware of people buying larimar from China only to then discover it's hemimorphite. 

Although in its purest form hemimorphite is white or colourless it can also be blue, green and grey.  The variation in colour is due to impurities of copper and iron.

Hemimorphite grades 4.5 to 5 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness.  It's known to occasionally fluoresce blue under shortwave ultraviolet light.

It can be found in several counries around the world including on the Belgian-German border, Poland, USA, North Africa, Thailand, Sardinia, Siberia, Austria, Namibia, Spain, Australia and England.

Some of the finest material which includes colourless and transparent gemmy crystals come from Mexico.

When used for its metaphysical healing properties hemimorphite enhances self-esteem and self-respect.  It facilitates personal evolvement, protects against malice and brings joy and creativity.

Hemimorphite brings luck and will encourage inner strength in order to live a happy and creative life.

Article Pictures

Our photos of the mineral hemimorphite are courtesy of Ron Wolf. Both are clickable and redirect to the original image.

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