Hemimorphite | Meaning and Properties



hemimorphite mineral specimen



The History of Hemimorphite

Hemimorphite which is a zinc silicate and smithsonite which is a zinc carbonate were once believed to be the same mineral because of the similarity in their external appearance.  For this reason until the early 1800's both were known as calamine but the British chemist and mineralogist James Smithson then discovered that from a chemical and crystallography perspective they were both quite distinct hence were actually two different minerals.  The zinc carbonate was later renamed smithsonite after James Smithson and hemimorphite came from the Greek words "hēmi" meaning “half” and “morphē” meaning “form” which was a reference to the stone's hemimorphism.  A mineral that's hemimorphic has a different crystal habit at opposite ends of the same crystal.

The Roman author, naturalist and natural philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote about hemimorphite and referred to it as "galmei" whilst 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 before American clergyman and mineral dealer Ebenezer Seymour described it in 1868 following studies of samples from Romania.  The obsolete name calamine remained in use until the 1930's.



the mineral hemimorphite

  Hemimorphite. Photo by Ron Wolf - Flickr




More about Hemimorphite

Its brittleness, moderate hardness and maze of hairline fractures make faceting hemimorphite extremely difficult hence when used as a gemstone it tends to be cut as a cabochon.  The blue variety can sometimes be mistaken for the mineral turquoise and can also resemble another mineral from the Dominican Republic known as blue pectolite more commonly known as larimar.  Although in its purest form hemimorphite is white or colourless it can also be found in blue, green and grey.  The variation in colour is due to trace elements of copper and iron.  It grades 4½ to 5 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness and is known to occasionally fluoresce blue under shortwave ultraviolet light.

Hemimorphite can be found in several locations worldwide including the Belgian-German border, Poland, USA, North Africa, Thailand, Sardinia, Siberia, Austria, Namibia, Spain, Australia and England.  The finest North American specimens including colourless transparent gemmy crystals come from Mexico.

In crystal healing it's said to enhance self-esteem and self-respect, facilitate personal evolvement, protect against malice and bring joy and creativity into one's life.  Hemimorphite brings luck, a discerning mind and a charming manner and can encourage one to develop inner strengths and resources to live a happy and creative life and to contribute to the well-being of all humanity.




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