polished mangesite spherepolished mangesite sphere

Magnesite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Transparent, gem-quality magnesite is rare and beautiful, with colors ranging from colorless, white, and gray to a yellowish brown.

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HomeGemstonesMagnesite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information

Transparent, gem-quality magnesite is rare and beautiful, with colors ranging from colorless, white, and gray to a yellowish brown.

polished mangesite sphere
Polished magnesite sphere. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and TimeLine Auctions Ltd.

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Magnesite Value

Magnesite - Brazil
Magnesite: Brazil (134.5 cts). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Does Magnesite Make a Good Jewelry Stone?

With perfect cleavage and a hardness of just 3.5 to 4.5, magnesites are very susceptible to fractures and scratches. These gems require protective settings for any jewelry use. Magnesite's physical properties also make it relatively difficult to cut, so faceted pieces are rarely seen. Cabochons are more common.

Is Magnesite Toxic?

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has guidelines for exposure to this mineral. As a powder, magnesite can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Gem cutters should take appropriate precautions when working with this material. See our article on lapidary health hazards for safety tips. However, normal jewelry wear should pose no health risks.

Identifying Magnesites

Even in small stones, magnesite's strong birefringence is obvious. Larger faceted gems have a sleepy or "fuzzy" look, due to the doubling of back facets as seen through the table facet.

Other notable magnesite characteristics are:

  • Effervescence in warm acids. (Please note: acid testing is a destructive technique. Don't use this test on a finished gemstone).
  • Blue, green, or white luminescence under shortwave (SW) ultraviolet light. Green phosphorescence is not uncommon.

Do Magnesites Receive Gem Enhancements?

Magnesite accepts dye treatments very well due to its porousness. Since cabochon or bead shapes are common, dyed specimens are sometimes sold as turquoise. If the material is disclosed as treated or a turquoise simulant, this is an acceptable practice. If not, buyer beware.

Magnesite - dyed
Dyed, stabilized magnesites. A great deal of this material has been sold recently at Tucson gem shows. Stones courtesy of Stone Group Labs. © Bear Williams, Stone Group Labs. Used with permission.

Where is Magnesite Found?

Facetable crystals come only from Brazil. Brumado, Bahia produces large, magnificent rhomb-shaped crystals, often transparent and colorless.

Other notable crystal sources include the following:

  • Algeria; Austria, India; Korea; Norway; South Africa; Zaire.

Stone Sizes

The Smithsonian Institution holds the largest known cut magnesite, a 390-carat cushion-step gem from Brazilian material. However, most gem-quality material occurs in sizes under 10-15 carats.

How to Care for Magnesite Jewelry

Due to magnesite's very low hardness, store gems and jewelry made from this material in a box or cloth bag, away from other gems. Harder gems could scratch them.

Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more care recommendations.

magnesite - earrings
Red teardrop earrings with red dyed magnesite bead. Jewelry and photo by Lannie Armstrong. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

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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