Fluorite

July 23, 2020

Fluorite is a mineral that has shown us time and time again how useful and important it is to us, both chemically and sparkly speaking. Sometime referred to as fluorspar, fluorite is calcium fluoride, is an important source of fluorine and is used in many chemical, ceramic and metallurgical processes. From tooth paste to high-octane fuels there seems to be a multitude for uses for this resource aside from bling.

The word fluorite is from the latin word “fluere”, which means “to flow”. Considering that Fluorite is known to melt easily this translation is pretty close. In fact, ancient Romans, would use a variety of fluorite for making vases among other things.

A vitreous luster when polished but with a MOH hardness of just 4, caution must be taken when wearing fluorite jewellery to ensure minimal surface scratches. Transparent to opaque and found typically in yellow, green, purple and a range of banded varieties, fluorite may also be blue, brown, orange, red/pink and colourless. Each shade is caused by colour centers involving various elements. This colouring process occurs when there is a defect with the regular arrangement of atoms within the crystal lattice that creates a vacancy – either due to a misplaced ion (and an unpaired electron taking its vacancy) or due to the displacement of an electron.

Banded material typically forms in masses, displaying complex patterns that are a record of the subtle changes in the chemistry of the fluids from which the crystal form. This material is often carved into ornaments or cut into cabochons for jewellery. Specimens with exceptional clarity and colour are faceted into brilliant gemstones if not simply preserved in their natural form to showcase and admire.

A mineral that is widely collected and traded, fluorite has always had a presence in Made In Earth’s collection. Bunny Bedi, owner and designer at Made In Earth, has favoured large, lustrous faceted green fluorite.  

“Large, green, affordable faceted stones over 30 carats are hard to come by. Fluorite can have remarkable clarity and colour and available in sizes up to and over 100 carats in wide varying hues of green. Not without its own set of pitfalls, fluorite is tricky to set as extreme heat and pressure can destroy a stone in seconds.”

“I’ve always sourced fluorite from China and have recently obtained a grand collection of faceted stones in both green, blue and banded purple/green. They’ve piqued the interest of our regular clients who don’t often see this mineral in jewellery.” 

Do you even feel like even though you’re a cube on the outside you’ve always been an octahedron on the inside? Well, that’s exactly how it feels to be fluorite. 

Forming in some of the most wild and extraordinary crystal specimens of brightly coloured, lustrous geometric crystals, fluorite mostly expresses itself as cube; either singular, clusters or interoenetrant twins. Very rarely will an octahedron form in natural but oh, they sure do like to leave in this way. Fluorite exhibits perfect cleavage in 4 directions, parallel to octahedral faces. When a hard, fine point impacts the surface the material will naturally favour to split along these specific crystallographic planes of weakness. This is common practice for fluorite masses to produce small, interesting octahedral crystals.

A noteworthy mineral with a split personality fluorite has more to offer than meets the eye.


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