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Hematite

Hematite is an important ore of iron and its blood red color (in the powdered form) lends itself well to use as a pigment. Hematite gets its name from a Greek word meaning blood-like because of the color of its powder. Ancient superstition held that large deposits of hematite formed from battles that were fought and the subsequent blood that flowed into the ground. Crystals of Hematite are considered rare and are sought after by collectors as are fine Kidney Ore specimens.

Hematite is sometimes used in jewelry, either as black reflective stones or as a jewelry piece itself (such as a ring). Some jewelry is marketed as "magnetic hematite". I believe that is more likely another iron oxide, magnetite.

The "not really a true mineral" known as Limonite is a mixture of hematite, Goethite, and possibly other similar hydrated oxides and hydroxides. Hematite is a primary component of ordinary rust, but the porosity, softness, and flakiness of rust is likely due to goethite.

The beautiful iridescent coating sometimes found on hematite is due to Turgite, still another "not really a" mineral composed of a mixture of hematite and goethite and sometimes described as being a hydrated hematite.


 

Physical Characteristics


Color is steel or silver gray to black in some forms and red to brown in earthy forms. Sometimes tarnished with iridescent colors when in a hydrated form (called Turgite).

 Luster is metallic or dull in earthy and oolitic forms.

Transparency: Crystals are opaque.

Crystal System is trigonal; bar 3 2/m

Crystal Habits include tabular crystals of varying thickness sometimes twinned, micaceous (specular), botryoidally and massive. Also earthy or oolitic.

Cleavage is absent. However, there is a parting on two planes.

Fracture is uneven.

Hardness is 5 - 6

Specific Gravity is 5.3 (slightly above average for metallic minerals)

Streak is blood red to brownish red for earthy forms.

Associated Minerals include jasper (a variety of quartz) in banded iron formations (BIF or Tiger Iron), dipyramidal quartz, rutile, and pyrite among others.

Notable Occurrences especially nice specimens come from England, Mexico, Brazil, Australia and the Lake Superior region. 

Uses of Hematite

One of the key historical uses was as pigment. Historical evidence suggests that ancient Egyptians used hematite as a coloring agent in pottery to give them a brown or red shade. Later on, it was used as a pigment component in various types of paints. In modern times, it is no longer used as a coloring agent as the pigment is far more expensive than other pigments that are available today. 

Ornamental use of hematite began in the Victorian era in between 1837 and 1901. It was used as gemstone in rings, bracelets, earrings and necklace. Even today black polished hematite beads are widely used for making costume jewelry. It is often referred to as black diamond because it is

 

Favorite for many women. Gem collectors and mineral collectors consider it as a good collectible stone as quite often it has magnetite, quartz calcite and pyrite in them. Polished black hematite can be carved into attractive figurines which can be used as decorative items in homes. Small-sized figurines made out of hematite are used as pendants and brooches as well. 

Hematite is often referred to as natural ore of iron. This is because mining of this ore started quite early when other ores of iron were not known. It supplies us with a large amount of iron as its iron content is as high as 66 percent. Usually, any iron ore is processed first to get rid of all its impurities before it is fed into the blast furnace for making iron. Just because the concentration of iron in hematite is so high, it can be directly put into the blast furnace for making iron. More than 90 percent of iron extracted from hematite is being used for production of steel which is an important building material that adds strength to the structure. Besides, there are numerous other applications of steel.