Hemimorphite | Meaning and Properties
Some 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 minerals 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.
Hemimorphite. Photo; Ron Wolf - Flickr
A Few More Facts About Hemimorphite
Its moderate hardness and maze of hairline fractures along with the fact that hemimorphite is very brittle makes faceting the stone extremely difficult. For this reason when used as a gemstone it's almost always shaped 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.
Hemimorphite 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 on the Belgian-German border, Poland, USA, North Africa, Thailand, Sardinia, Siberia, Austria, Namibia, Spain, Australia and England. Some of the world's finest material which includes colourless and transparent gemmy crystals come from Mexico.
In crystal healing hemimorphite is used to enhance self-esteem and self-respect, to facilitate personal evolvement, protect against malice and bring joy and creativity into one's life. It 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.
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