Hematite is a form of iron oxide. In some parts of the world, Hematite is called “bloodstone” because the iron oxide dust given off by the stone when it is cut will instantly rust and turn water red, making it look like blood. In fact, the name Hematite comes from the Greek word for blood. It is a gray metallic material, an ore of iron which is easily detected with a magnet. It’s called Bloodstone because when it is ground into a powder and wetted, it turns the water bright blood red. This poisonous oxidization is what some people have attributed to the historic Nile turning red. There were massive deposits of Hematite in the tributaries above Egypt. When an earthquake dislodged a deposit, it ran into the water, turning it red and deadly to the inhabitants downstream. Hematite has also been called “Black Alaskan Diamond” although it is neither black nor a Diamond. However, “bloodstone” in North America refers to a dark green mineral with flecks of red in it (named because these red flecks look to some like splatters of blood).
This type of iron oxide occurs in hexagonal crystals, making it suitable for cutting and creation of jewellery. Interestingly, hematite is the only metal ore used in jewellery. It is an opaque black or grey stone, which appears very metallic and shiny. Hematite is magnetic, which is caused by heating the stone and this property was exploited as the earliest compasses used for navigation.
Hematite has been used in the past as an amulet against bleeding in ancient times, and as mourning jewellery in the Victorian era. Today, it is often used in signet rings and men’s jewellery. Very small faceted hematite stones are also common to add extra sparkle to a piece, but when they are used in this way they are called “marcasite“. Hematite is a fairly inexpensive stone, which can add a lot of sparkle even on a limited budget.
We stock a wide variety of Hemetite and Marcasite set in Sterling Silver.