FLUORITE (var. “RAINBOW”)
HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Fluorite, pronounced FLOR-ite, has been known since antiquity. Its name stems from the Latin fluere, meaning “flow,” and alluding to its ability to reduce the melting temperature of metals in smelting processes. “Rainbow” fluorite is named for its distinctive, rainbow-like, multicolored banding patterns. The only important sources of “rainbow” fluorite are China, Russia, and England.
MINERALOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Fluorite [calcium fluoride, CaF2], crystallizes in the isometric system as well-formed cubes and less often as octahedrons; it also occurs in massive, granular, and botryoidal forms. It has a Mohs hardness of 4.0, perfect cleavage in four directions to form octahedrons, a specific gravity of 3.0-3.2, and is transparent to translucent. Pure fluorite is colorless or white, but impurities impart a wide range of pastel colors, notably lilacs and soft greens. Fluorite occurs in several mineralogical environments, including epithermal veins, hydrothermal replacement deposits, carbonatites, granite pegmatites, and contact metamorphic rocks. The “rainbow” variety forms when mineral solutions with continuously changing chemical compositions crystallize in sequential layers to create banding patterns of different colors and thicknesses.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: The “rainbow” variety of fluorite is a gemstone that is fashioned into cabochons for jewelry use; it is also a decorative stone that is carved into ornamental objects. Because individual fluorite colors are assigned specific metaphysical properties, multicolored “rainbow” fluorite is considered an especially powerful and useful stone.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: The “rainbow” variety of fluorite is widely collected for its unusual, multicolored, banded patterns.