Gem Profile- Magnesite
by Judy Ellis
Magnesite is magnesium carbonate and is naturally a whiteish color with brown or cream matrix (lines running through it). Some vendors have labeled magnesite as white buffalo turquoise or chalk turquoise, but magnesite isn't related to turquoise at all - it doesn't contain copper. (Note: some authentic turquoise is also called chalk turquoise - more on that in a later gem profile.)
As you can see from the lovely jewelry featured in this article, while magnesite is naturally fairly colorless, it takes a dye phenomenally well. Dyed magnesite is one of the most popluar ways to wear turquoise-looking jewelry at a fraction of the price. There's nothing wrong with using dyed turquoise magnesite in your jewelry - just make sure your customer understands what they're buying.


Gina Smith created this turquoise magnesite necklace and earring set with copper wire
and
Marcia Hooten wrapped this Magnesite Square Necklace in sterling silver wire.
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Magnesite - , General Education, , Turquoise Magnesite donut necklace
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Magnesite - , General Education, , Magnesite square bead necklace
Magnesite may also be heat-treated - possibly to stabilize the dye? - but any magnesite jewelry material that has a turquoise color, or lime or pink as well, has been dyed. Magnesite that has been dyed often has a tiny amount of white dots on the surface.


A sampling of dyed Magnesite Beads
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Magnesite - , General Education, , A sampling of dyed Magnesite Beads
In magnesite that is intended to imitate turquoise, some bead manufacturers may employ a "crazing" method. Remember the craze effect on your aunt's teacups? Same idea: quickly heating and cooling the stones, possibly with dye, so that there's even more "turquoise matrix" to appreciate. Again, there is nothing wrong with using treated magnesite, as long as all parties involved are aware!


Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Magnesite - , General Education, , Magnesite cabs
Magnesite can be found all over the world, including the United States, Austria, and Brazil. It's best used in pendants and earrings, and I'd recommend against using it in rings and bracelets that would be bumped often.

Natural magnesite is soluble in saltwater, so be sure not to wear your magnesite jewelry swimming! Magnesite is also fairly soft and scratchable, rating a 3.5 - 4.5 on Moh's scale. This is softer than real turquoise, which has a hardness of 5-6. If your magnesite is dyed, to protect the color, it's recommended you clean the jewelry with a cloth rather than dipping it in a cleaner or cleaning solution.

Metaphysically speaking, magnesite is prized for aiding in meditation. It is said to relax and soothe the mind, allowing a deeper experience. It is also said to open the heart chakra, help one to learn to love oneself, and raise self-esteem. A natural remedy for restless sleep is to place a piece of magnesite under your pillow - provided you don't have the sensitivity of a princess...!


Linda Barton wrapped this turquoise magnesite stone in copper wire, and hung it on a necklace with copper and real turquoise beads.
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Magnesite - , General Education, , Turquoise Magnesite
Raw magnesite is often fluorescent - so if you go black-light bowling or to a fun Halloween party, this might be a fun jewelry piece to wear. However, before you make a special piece, test your magnesite under a black light, because the way that it's been cabbed or finished may have altered how it fluoresces.
Resources & Recommended Reading

Magnesite on Wikipedia
Magnesite Healing Properties: www.healing-crystals-for-you.com
Magnesite on Mindat
Turquoise on Wikipedia

Materials

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  • Category: General Education
  • Technique(s): General Education