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Fluorite Gemstone Information

About Fluorite - History and Introduction

Fluorite is considered to be one of most popular minerals in the world among gem and mineral collectors, second only to quartz. It is often referred to as 'the most colorful mineral in the world' owing to its variety of brilliant colors. Fluorite was first described in 1530 and was originally referred to as 'fluorospar'. The mineral was strongly noted for its effectiveness as a flux for aluminum and steel processing. Today, the term 'fluorospar' is primarily used for the industrial and chemical form of fluorite, while 'fluorite' is the term used in reference to the gem and mineral.

Fluorite Fluorescence
In 1852, the phenomenon of 'fluorescence' was named after fluorite, since it was one of the first fluorescent minerals studied. The element fluorine was also named after fluorite. Fluorine is an essential element in the chemical ion of fluoride. Fluorite is frequently fluorescent under ultraviolet UV light. The fluorescence is thought to be due to impurities of yttrium or other types of organic matter within the crystal lattice. The color of visible light emitted when a sample of fluorite is fluorescing appears to be highly dependent on where the specimen was collected. Fluorescent colors of fluorite are extremely variable, but the typical color is blue; other fluorescent colors include yellow, green, red, white and purple. Some specimens have the added effect of simultaneously exhibiting different colors under long and short wave UV light.

Fluorite Crystal Habits
Fluorite has several different crystal habits that always produce well-formed clean crystals. The cube is the most recognized habit of fluorite, followed secondly by the octahedron. The octahedral crystal is believed to form at higher temperatures than the cube. Fluorite has perfect octahedral cleavage which means that when cleaved, it can produce a perfect octahedron or diamond shape. Cleaved octahedrons are popular in rock shops all over the world, while natural uncleaved octahedrons are much harder to find.

Shop Fluorite Gemstones
Natural Fluorite
Identifying Fluorite Back to Top

Due to the many color variations of fluorite, it can resemble a variety of gemstones; however, it can be easily distinguished by its relatively low level of hardness. Some possibilities for confusion include calcite, but calcite is slightly softer and has a different crystal form. Quartz is much harder and lacks the cleavage of fluorite, while apatite is slightly harder and has a different crystal form. Another distinguishing characteristic of fluorite is its property of thermoluminescence; the ability to glow when heated. One variety of fluorite known as 'chlorophane' demonstrates this well and can display thermoluminescence even when held in the hand. The thermoluminescence is green to blue-green.

Fluorite Origin and Gemstone Sources Back to Top

Fluorite deposits are found in many locations around the world. Some of the most significant finds are located in Argentina, Austria, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar (Burma), Namibia, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.

The unique variety of 'chlorophane fluorite' is found in very limited quantities at Amelia Court House, Virginia; Franklin, New Jersey; the Bluebird Mine in Arizona, USA; Gilgit, Pakistan; Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec, Canada and at Nerchinsk in the Ural Mountains of Russia.

A purple-blue and white banded variety of fluorite known as 'Blue John' is mined from Castleton in Derbyshire, England. Only a very small quantity of Blue John is mined each year for gemstone and ornamental use.

China has recently become a source for a type of fluorite that has similar color and banding to 'Blue John' fluorite.

Buying Fluorite and Determining Fluorite Value Back to Top

Fluorite Color

Fluorite occurs in a range of colors from colorless to black. The hallmark fluorite color is purple, while other popular colors include blue, green and yellow. Rarer colors include colorless, pink, brown, black and reddish-orange. Intermediate pastels between the previously mentioned colors are also possible. Most fluorite is a single color, but a significant percentage of fluorite exhibits multiple colors arranged in bands or zones.

Fluorite Clarity and Luster

Fluorite has an attractive vitreous luster and gem-quality specimens should be free from inclusions visible to the eye. Gem grade fluorite typically occurs with excellent transparency, while lower-grade, industrial and commercial-use fluorite is often translucent.

Fluorite Cut and Shape

Most fluorite gemstones are cut from deeply colored stones, but they can also be cut from the less intensely colored materials. Fluorite is typically faceted as a gemstone only for collectors or display purposes. The most common shapes are traditional ovals, rounds and cushions, but fancier shapes can be found. Multicolored and banded fluorite is often shaped and polished as cabochons. Many collected fluorite stones are unworked and are traded in crystal form. Fluorite has a tendency to chip, and owing to its softness, gemstones must be cut very carefully.

Fluorite Treatment

Fluorite is typically unenhanced. However, some materials may have been enhanced through irradiation gamma rays to create interesting neon colors. Synthesized fluorite is also available in a variety of colors.

Fluorite Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Chemical Formula: CaF2 - Calcium fluoride
Crystal Structure: (Cubic) Cubes, octahedra
Color: Colorless and all colors
Hardness: 4
Refractive Index: 1.434
Density: 3.00 to 3.25
Cleavage: Perfect
Transparency: Transparent to translucent
Double Refraction or Birefringence: None
Luster: Vitreous
Fluorescence: Strong; blue-violet

Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.

Fluorite: Varieties of Fluorite and Similar Gemstones Back to Top
Apatite Gemstones
Natural Apatite

There are several unofficial trade names for fluorite specimens which may exhibit certain colors or patterns, or may have formed in very specific geological regions or conditions.

Some of the more popular and well-known varieties of fluorite include:

Antozonite - Fluorite which when fractured or cleaved, gives off a peculiar odor.

Blue John - A banded purple and white variety of fluorite from Derbyshire, England.

Chlorophane - A thermoluminescent variety of fluorite, which can emit a bright green to blue-green light when heated.

Yttrocerite - Fluorite in which cerium and yttrium elements partially replace the calcium in the chemical structure.

Yttrofluorite - Fluorite in which yttrium elements partially replace calcium in the chemical structure.

Other Similar Minerals

Apatite, calcite, pyrite, halite and quartz

Fluorite Mythology, Metaphysical and Crystal Healing Properties Back to Top

As a lesser-known gemstone, fluorite hasn't gained much fame or legend, other than being known as the most colorful mineral in the world. The word 'fluorite', derived from the Latin verb 'to flow', refers to fluorite's use as a flux in steel and aluminum processing. It was originally named 'fluorospar' by miners and is still called fluorospar to this day. Fluorite is also used as a source of fluorine for fluorinated water. Many people believe fluorite has a calming effect on the body. During the eighteenth century it was ground into powder and mixed with water to treat kidney disease. Ancient Romans believed that drinking alcoholic beverages from vessels carved from fluorite would help prevent drunkenness, which is similar to the beliefs attached to purple amethyst.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Traditional, Ceremonial and Mythological Gemstone Lore is collected from various resources and is not the sole opinion of SETT Co., Ltd. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed medical practitioner. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements of healing or astrological birthstone powers and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.
Fluorite Gemstone and Jewelry Design Ideas Back to Top

Due to fluorite's very low hardness and perfect cleavage, it is not used for mainstream gemstone jewelry, and it is generally cut only for gemstone and mineral collectors. However, despite being a softer collector's stone, fluorite is still quite suitable for protected jewelry such as pendants, brooches or earrings. Multicolor banded beads of fluorite are sometimes used in bracelets, but care should always be taken when wearing fluorite.

Fairly large fluorite gemstones can be found at very affordable prices. Typically, banded and multicolored fluorite is shaped and polished as cabochons. The distinct purple-blue and white banded 'Blue John' variety of fluorite is often used for ornamental carvings and was once popular for the making of goblets.

Note: Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight. Colored stones vary in size-to-weight ratio. Some stones are larger and others are smaller than diamond by weight in comparison.

Fluorite Gemstone Jewelry Care and Cleaning Back to Top

How to Clean your GemstonesFluorite gemstones are rather fragile compared to most gemstones and since they are considerably softer than quartz, simply wiping off dust can eventually cause them to lose polish and develop surface scratches. Caring for fluorite stones is comparable to that of precious opal. Avoid wearing fluorite jewelry when engaging in vigorous physical activity, such as exercise or sports, or household chores. When cleaning fluorite, use soapy water and a soft cloth. Be sure to rinse well to remove soapy residue.

As with most colored stones, avoid ultrasonic cleaners and steamers. Avoid the use of bleach and other harsh chemicals. When storing fluorite, wrap it in a soft cloth, or place it into a fabric-lined box. Always store fluorite separately from other types of gemstone and gemstone jewelry.

  • First Published: September-29-2006
  • Last Updated: January-22-2014
  • © 2005-2014 GemSelect.com all rights reserved.
    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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