HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Hematite served as the earliest red pigment. Mineralogists recognized it as a species in the late 1700s. Its name comes from the Greek haimatites, meaning “blood-like,” alluding to the red color of its earthy forms. Notable collecting localities are found in Morocco, England, Pakistan, Switzerland, China, and the United States (Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Utah, Georgia, New York).
MINERALOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Hematite [iron oxide, Fe2O3], pronounced HEE-muh-tite, is the most common iron-containing mineral. It crystallizes in the hexagonal system (trigonal subsystem) in massive, botryoidal, compact, and earthy forms, and less frequently as thick-to-thin, tabular crystals. It has a Mohs hardness of 5.5-6.5, no cleavage, a diagnostic deep-red streak, and a specific gravity of 4.9-5.3. Massive and compact forms are steel-gray-to-black in color and have a metallic luster; earthy forms are cherry-red to reddish-brown with a dull luster. Hematite is found in sedimentary deposits, carbonatites, disseminated replacement deposits, regional metamorphic rocks, and hydrothermal veins.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: Medieval physicians used hematite to treat circulatory, heart, and kidney disorders. Modern metaphysicists believe that hematite enhances energy, vitality, memory, and intellect; helps to tolerate stress; and aids overall healing. Hematite is the official state mineral of Alabama. As the primary ore of iron, hematite has yielded about 85 percent of all the iron ever mined. A silvery-gray, compact, crystalline form, called “specular hematite,” is fashioned into decorative objects and cabochons.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: The botryoidal, and crystalline forms of hematite are collected for their steel-gray color; bright metallic luster, and distinctive shapes.