Hemimorphite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


hemimorphite - faceted
Faceted Hemimorphite:
Mexico (0.75). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Massive hemimorphite can have a very delicate, blue color. However, it's seldom cut because not very much has appeared on the market.

Hemimorphite Value

The International Gem Society (IGS) has a list of businesses offering gemstone appraisal services.

Hemimorphite Information

DataValue
NameHemimorphite
Crystallography Orthorhombic. Crystals tabular and thin, striated; fan-shaped aggregates.
Colors White, colorless, pale blue, greenish, gray, yellowish, brown.
Luster Vitreous, silky; dull.
Fracture Even to subconchoidal. Brittle.
Hardness 4.5-5
Specific Gravity 3.4-3.5
Birefringence 0.022
Cleavage Perfect 1 direction.
Luminescence Weak blueish fluorescence under SW UV.
Spectral Not diagnostic.
Transparency Transparent to opaque
FormulaZn4Si2O7(OH)2· H2O
Pleochroism None
Optics a = 1.614; β = 1.617; γ = 1.636. Biaxial (+), 2V= 46°.
EtymologyFrom the Greek hemi and morphe, meaning “half-form,” in allusion to its crystal form.
OccurrenceA secondary mineral in the oxide zones of ore deposits.
hemimorphite- Zacatecas, Mexico
Hemimorphite: Zacatecas, Mexico (~ 3 inches high). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Comments

Hemimorphite is very rare as a faceted gemstone. So far, only Mexico has produced suitable material. However, gem cutters have cut cabochons from material found in many locations.

In the early 19th century, the British mineralogist James Smithson discovered that the zinc ore then known as calamine was composed of hemimorphite and smithsonite. These minerals, along with hydrozincite, are, in fact, distinct minerals despite their external similarities.

Identifying Characteristics

As crystals, hemimorphites show different terminations at each end. Hence the name hemimorphite, since each end or “half” takes a different “form.”

This gem exhibits the pyroelectric effect. When heated, it generates an electrical charge.

hemimorphite - Saint Eulalia, Mexico
“Hemimorphite,” Santa Eulalia Dist., Serdan, Chihuahua, Mexico. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Synthetics

No known synthetics. However, gemologists have identified artificial simulants, such as partially devitrified glass. (The process of devitrification produces crystals in normally amorphous glass).

Natural gems such as smithsonite, chrysocolla, and turquoise may also resemble hemimorphite. However, these gems possess very different properties and should be distinguished easily. Chrysocolla’s and turquoise’s specific gravities differ significantly from hemimorphite’s. Smithsonite’s specific gravity and optic sign also differ from those of its former partner in calamine.

Sources

In Mexico, Mapimi, Durango and Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua produce crystals up to several inches in length. Some of these are transparent and yield stones up to approximately 7 – 10 carats. Blue crusts are also found. Other Mexican locations produce beautiful gems as well.

This mineral is found in various localities worldwide. Other notable gem-quality sources include:

  • United States: southwestern states.
  • China; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Republic of the Congo; Italy.

Stone Sizes

Gem cutters have cut cabochons up to several inches in length from massive blue material. They’ve also faceted colorless material from Mexico into gems from 1 – 3 carats in size. Larger stones are very rare.

  • Devonian Group (Calgary, Alberta, Canada): 1.90 (colorless, Mexico).

Care

Due to their relatively low hardness, store these gems separately from other harder, more common jewelry stones, such as quartz. For cleaning, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water only. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

hemimorphite - Arizona
“Hemimorphite,” 79 Mine (79th Mine; Seventy-Nine Mine; Seventy-Nine property; McHur prospect), Chilito, Hayden area, Banner District, Dripping Spring Mts, Gila Co., Arizona, USA. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.