Hematite is a metallic-looking gemstone that has an intriguing look when set into jewelry. It’s been used for thousands of years in a variety of ways, from decoration to pigmentation. Although hematite isn’t a mainstream gemstone, it’s a collector’s favorite due to its unique appearance. There’s no other gemstone that looks quite like hematite.
If you’re thinking of adding hematite to your jewelry collection, here’s what you need to know before you buy.
What is Hematite?
Hematite is an extremely common mineral, found abundantly on the surface and shallow crust of the earth. If you pick up a reddish or brownish rock, chances are it contains hematite which gives it its color.
Although hematite appears black or silver when polished, it’s distinctly red in color if powdered. The very word hematite, which comes from the Greek word for blood, is a reference to the reddish nature of hematite.
Hematite is dense and heavy. The iron concentration in the stone is extremely high, making it the most important source of iron ore. It also has a very high refractive index (2.9), which is much higher than that of even diamonds (2.4) and moissanite (2.6). This is what gives the stone its unique, metallic luster.
This gemstone is sourced from a variety of locations, including Brazil, England, Italy, China, Bangladesh, New Zealand and in several states of the US.
What’s more, hematite is a rock that’s out of this world… literally. Scientists have found that this mineral exists in abundant quantities on Mars, which is what gives the Martian rocks their characteristic red color and makes the planet appear red at night. The nickname Red Planet for Mars springs from this fact, which occurs due to hematite.
Hematite has been used for several thousands of years in a number of forms, including as jewelry, pigments and ornaments. Today, this mineral continues to be used in a variety of ways.
Color, Clarity & Luster of Hematite
Hematite is typically black to gray in color when polished. However, as we mentioned above, in certain other forms, hematite is a rust-red color. In the use of jewelry, it is blackish gray with a metallic luster.
Hematite is always opaque, and does not allow light to pass through. When polished, it appears very metallic and is somewhat similar to silver in look. Sometimes, it’s easy to confuse hematite as being a metal rather than a gemstone.
Choosing Hematite Cut
Because hematite contains no cleavage and is very compact and dense, it can be cut into a variety of shapes. Hematite is typically cut en cabochon to bring out its luster and smoothness. However, faceting hematite adds texture and depth to the stone and enhances its brilliance.
Synthetic, Treated and Imitation Hematite
Hematite is commonly untreated and unenhanced and is sold in its natural form. However, sometimes, cheap imitations can be passed off as hematite.
Hematine (a.k.a Hemalyke or Hemalike) vs. Hematite
You may have seen bracelets made of magnetic metallic-looking beads that are sold as natural hematite. These in fact are imitation, synthetic versions which are easier and cheaper to produce. Hematine can be made into a variety of shapes and cuts and is very affordable.
Hematine is identical in appearance to hematite and it is nearly impossible to tell them apart simply by looking. However, one distinguishing factor is that hematine is highly magnetic whereas the magnetism of hematite is much weaker and often non-existent.
If you are looking for authentic hematite jewelry, always buy from a trusted source and ask the vendor whether it is hematine.
Hematite in Jewelry
From the second half of the 19th century, hematite as a gemstone rose to popularity, and, along with onyx, was commonly used for mourning jewelry. Hematite went out of fashion for a while, but with the return of all things vintage, it has cycled back into the public eye.
Hematite can be used to create jewelry catering to a range of styles, whether sophisticated or casual, modern or vintage, bohemian or hippie.
Hematite can be made into all types of jewelry, mainly necklaces, bracelets and earrings. It can also be used in rings, but should be placed in protective settings as hematite can scratch easily, and due to its reflective, smooth surface, scratches are easily seen.
For the classiest look, hematite set in yellow gold really stands out. The gold softens the metallic black color of the gemstone and complements it.
Hematite is also ideal for male jewelry, especially men’s rings, studs and accessories such as cuff links.
While generally hematite jewelry is affordable, the quality of craftsmanship, materials used and designer’s name can elevate the cost of hematite jewelry to hundreds of dollars.
Cleaning and Caring for Hematite
Hematite has a hardness rating of 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale. It is relatively soft and, as mentioned above, can easily be scratched. It is also rather brittle and can tend to fracture if dealt a hard blow.
The best way to clean hematite jewelry is with mild liquid soap and warm water. Always use a soft cloth or brush and avoid abrasive equipment, ultrasonic cleaners and chemicals.
Always take hematite jewelry off when engaging in activities such as swimming, playing sports, gardening, cleaning or washing dishes and make sure that your hematite jewelry doesn’t come into contact with household detergents and chemicals, including hairspray, cosmetics or perfumes.
Store hematite jewelry separately, in a cloth pouch or fabric-lined jewelry box to avoid being scratched by other gemstones and metals.
Hematite Meaning and Symbolism
Simply holding a hematite is believed to have a calming, grounding and healing effect, partly due to is density, weight as well as high iron content. It is connected to the element earth and is said to have an earthy energy. It is thought to assist in dispelling negativity and aid in logical and organized thinking, which then leads to creativity.
For those easily distracted, hematite provides a grounding force and helps to enhance focus. It helps you to reduce unwanted drama in relationships, assisting in promoting healthy and wholesome romantic relationships.
In terms of physical health, hematite has been used as a medicinal stone for thousands of years. It is believed to be an excellent healing stone as it is thought to support circulation and cleanse the blood. It can also alleviate mental stress and anxiety.
*Disclaimer: Jewelry Shopping Guide does not guarantee or validate any of the claims related to the metaphysical and alternative healing powers of this or any other gemstone. This information should in no way be used as a substitute for medical advice.
Where to Buy Hematite Jewelry
Hematite is a minor gemstone and not used in mainstream jewelry. It may be difficult to find it at your local jewelers.
We recommend Amazon, as there is a wide variety of hematite jewelry there to suit every budget and jewelry style. Etsy is also an excellent platform, if you’re after a wider range of hematite jewelry such as vintage, artisan and antique styles.
If hematite prices are extremely cheap, it is likely that the jewelry is in fact hematine. Do your due diligence and vet the retailer’s after sales policies (especially returns policies) and trustworthiness before you buy. Always ask about the origin and quality of the stone.