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Pietersite Properties, Facts and Photos

close up shot of the mineral pietersite

What is Pietersite?

Pietersite is a relatively new mineral discovered in Namibia in 1962 by Sid Pieters, after whom it was later named.

Formed from layers of sand or silt cemented together by quartz, pietersite is a chalcedony with embedded fibres of other minerals.

Known for its vibrant swirling patterns, pietersite can occur in various colours but gold, brown, and blue are the most common. The finest material can be slightly chatoyant.

This optical phenomenon can be seen in several minerals but is best known for its presence in tigers eye. In tigers eye, chatoyance occurs in bands, while in pietersite it tends to be random or 'chaotic.'

Pietersite is often described as a mix of hawks eye (which is blue tigers eye) and brown tigers eye. However, from a geological perspective, this isn't correct because tigers eye is quartz, and pietersite is chalcedony. Chalcedony is a type of quartz with a microcrystalline structure.
close-up shot of the mineral pietersiteWhile pietersite and tigers eye do share many similarities, pietersite formed under very different geological conditions.

The main source for mining pietersite is near the small town of Kuruman in Namibia, not far from the border with South Africa. Tigers eye, manganese, and ores of iron are also mined there. Kuruman has the richest deposits of crocidolite in the world. The mineral crocidolite is also known as blue asbestos.

In recent years, there has been some concern regarding the presence of asbestos in pietersite and tigers eye. The danger from asbestos comes when microscopic fibres break away and become airborne and are then breathed in. In pietersite and tigers eye this isn't possible because the crocidolite is encapsulated deep within the quartz.

In 1966, pietersite was discovered in China. It was mined during the 1970s and 80s, but due to flooding, the mines closed and have never reopened.  

In 1996, it was reported that pietersite from Kuruman was becoming scarce because the mines were nearing depletion.

When used for its healing properties pietersite is said to be beneficial for exhaustion, headaches and absorption of nutrients. It provides creative ideas to help resolve stagnant situations and can help resolve conflicts. 

Pietersite is quite a hard material that grades 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.

Both images in our article, which are courtesy of Captain Tenneal, are close-up shots of pietersite. They're clickable and redirect to the original photo. 

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