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 'fluorspar'. The mineral was strongly noted for its effectiveness as a flux for aluminum and steel processing. Today, the term 'fluorspar' 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 Crystal Habits
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 Gemological Properties: Back to Top
Please refer to our Gemstone Glossary for details of gemology-related terms.
Fluorite: Varieties of Fluorite and Similar Gemstones Back to Top
There are several unofficial trade names for fluorite specimens that 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 that 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.
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 'fluorspar' by miners and is still called fluorspar 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 out of vessels carved from fluorite would help prevent drunkenness, which is similar to the beliefs attached to purple amethyst.
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
Fluorite 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: June-09-2014
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