Smithsonite Mineral Specimen
HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Smithsonite, pronounced SMITH-son-ite, was recognized as a mineral species in 1832 and named for British chemist and mineralogist James Smithson, the benefactor-founder of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Smithsonite is collected in Greece, Germany, Namibia, Zambia, Russia, Spain, Austria, England, and the United States (New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Tennessee).
MINERALOLOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Smithsonite [zinc carbonate, ZnCO3] crystallizes in the hexagonal system, most often in botryoidal, reniform, stalactitic, incrusting, granular, massive, and compact forms; crystals are rare. It has a Mohs hardness of 4.0-4.5, perfect cleavage in three directions, an uneven fracture, a pearly-to-waxy luster, and a specific gravity of 4.3-4.5. It is usually translucent with colors ranging from white and green to pink, purple, brown, yellow, and blue. Smithsonite is a secondary mineral that occurs mainly in the oxidized zones of zinc-rich, hydrothermal replacement deposits in association with galena, azurite, and cerussite.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: Smithsonite is a minor ore of zinc. Massive forms are sometimes fashioned into cabochons for wear in pendants. To metaphysical practitioners, smithsonite is a stone of rebirth that increases clairvoyant abilities, aids in communicating with spirits, eases the trauma of emotional wounds, and promotes relaxation and tranquility.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: Smithsonite is widely collected, especially in its botryoidal forms and in green and purple colors.