Cinnabar Value, Price, and Jewelry Information
Magnificent red cinnabar is extremely soft and fragile, so faceted material is rare. It's cut primarily for collectors and carvings.
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Magnificent red cinnabar is extremely soft and fragile, so faceted material is rare. It’s cut primarily for collectors and carvings.
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Cinnabar carvings from China appear regularly on the market but aren't abundant. Be advised that people have used this material to make a red pigment since antiquity. Some so-called "cinnabar carvings" you may find are actually wood pieces painted with cinnabar lacquer.
Although commonly associated with the color red, specimens may range from brown to gray and even black.
Hunan Province, China yields the world's finest crystals. Crystalline cinnabar is very rare.
Other notable sources include:
- United States: Arkansas, California, Nevada, Texas, Utah.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina; Germany; Italy; Mexico; Peru; Russia; Serbia; Spain.
Cut specimens are extremely small, normally less than 3 carats. Some rough exists that might cut up to 50 carats. Fine transparent Chinese crystals are unlikely to be cut, since they're extremely valuable as mineral specimens.
Gem cutters can make cabochons up to several inches in size from massive cinnabar.
- Devonian Group (Calgary, Alberta, Canada): 2.68 (red, Mexico).
- Private Collections: 22.15, 13.91 (red, China); 19.87 (red pear shape, China).
Cinnabar contains mercury. Avoid inhaling dust or fumes and wash your hands after working with this material, especially massive specimens. See the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry profile on mercury for more information.
Since cinnabars have a hardness of 2, store any jewelry separately from other stones to avoid contact scratches. Clean only with a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.
Joel E. Arem, Ph.D., FGA
Dr. Joel E. Arem has more than 60 years of experience in the world of gems and minerals. After obtaining his Ph.D. in Mineralogy from Harvard University, he has published numerous books that are still among the most widely used references and guidebooks on crystals, gems and minerals in the world.
Co-founder and President of numerous organizations, Dr. Arem has enjoyed a lifelong career in mineralogy and gemology. He has been a Smithsonian scientist and Curator, a consultant to many well-known companies and institutions, and a prolific author and speaker. Although his main activities have been as a gem cutter and dealer, his focus has always been education. joelarem.com
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