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Do you know what we call marcasite is actually not made from marcasite? But why? What is the origin of marcasite in the jewelry industry? If you want to find the answer to these questions, this article is for you. Let’s discuss them all below.
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Marcasite is made out of brittle and brassy colored metallic stones called pyrite, also known as Fool’s Gold.
Pyrite is a gemstone that’s very similar looking to gold but can also be darker and metallic looking like the marcasite gemstone. The tiny pieces of marcasite are used in silver jewelry to create iconic jewelry.
Marcasite, a granular stone, has a brittle nature and relatively low hardness of 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. It makes them unsuitable in the jewelry industry. When making jewelry, the marcasite tends to crumble into fine dust easily.
Therefore, most marcasite jewelry is made out of pyrite. These are considered the prime candidate in making jewelry because of their durability.
Pyrite got its name to be ‘Fool’s Gold’ because of its resemblance in appearance and physical properties with gold. Pyrite and marcasite have different crystal habits meaning that pyrite is much more stable for jewelry use.
So why is this called marcasite jewelry if it is made out of pyrite?
Almost up to the 19th century, marcasite and pyrite were viewed as the same gemstone. The word ‘marcasite’ is derived from an Arabic word called ‘marqashītā’ meaning pyrite. In most marcasite jewelry, pyrite is usually the main component rather than marcasite itself. It is to increase the durability and quality of the jewelry piece. Fool’s Gold looks as spectacular as marcasite. Both pyrite and marcasite are chemically iron sulfide but share different crystal structures resulting in varying physical properties. It is known as polymorphism.
In general, pyrite is more stable and less brittle than marcasite. Marcasite may also produce sulfuric acid when exposed to moisture. It is the reason why pyrite is used instead of real marcasite in ‘marcasite’ jewelry. Marcasite jewelry is made by setting small pieces of faceted pyrite into silver. Properly-cut marcasite jewelry pieces reflect light at different angles from their different facets to give sparkle and an attractive look.
The pyrite is formed under various environmental conditions. It is common in hydrothermal veins and also produced by magma or stalactite growth.
Iron pyrite, also referred to as “fairy’s Gold” is derived from a Greek phrase meaning “stone which strikes fire.”
In the earlier stages, marcasite was considered invaluable because of its characteristics and commonness. Many research also indicates their uses in the mirrors and dyes. Later during the Civilizations of Chica, Greece, South Africa, and Egypt, people started using them in necklaces, rings, etc. These are commonly used in the jewelry industry because of their classy and distinctive look.
Marcasite jewelry became popular since the Incas civilization. In the Incas civilization, the jewelry pieces were found in larger amounts in archaeological findings dating between 1100 to 1500 in the burial sites. Therefore, marcasite has also got its name as ‘The gemstone of the Incas.’
However, the Ancient Greeks weren’t the only ones to introduce marcasite jewelry. The Thracians north are also believed to have created some of the oldest marcasite jewelry pieces in Europe. The ancient empires in the Middle East also have a rich history with marcasite jewelry.
The period between the late 1830s and 1900s was under Queen Victoria’s rule. It is when the interest in marcasite jewelry was ignited. The 18th and 19th centuries were called the ‘Golden Age of marcasite’ in Europe after Queen Victoria wanted the entire court to wear black concerning the death of Prince Albert. The queen adhered to the etiquettes of a widow( which was strict during that period) and dressed up in black wearing marcasite. Following her choice, many people started choosing marcasite as a fashionable attire.
The Art Deco movement was famous in Europe and America. Modernized fashion marcasite jewelry became widespread during this era. New techniques were in use to blend vivid color combinations for a stark contrast.
Art Nouveau designers promoted marcasite jewelry in the early nineteenth century throughout the Victorian era. Very soon, the Art Deco designers introduced nature-inspired marcasite jewelry pieces such as flowers, butterflies, etc. These became highly popular because of their charm and beauty.
The 1920s is when unique designs of marcasite jewelry began to popularize in the market. These stones were widely used as centerpieces for stylish and angular designs.
However, the Art Deco movement was interrupted shortly by World War 2. It is the point when the demand for sulfur increased as it was considered an integral part of the success of the industrial revolution. The government was looking for ways to extract sulfur. As we all know, iron pyrite again gained all the attention.
Thailand is one of the largest producers of modern marcasite jewelry in silver. Therefore, when you are about to upgrade your jewelry collection, Thailand is the best choice. Safasilver is a genuine and reputed Jewelry manufacturer in Thailand that sells wholesale marcasite jewelry all over the world. We also take wholesale orders and offer free shipping on orders above $299.