Proustite Value, Price, and Jewelry Information


proustite - faceted
Proustite: Germany (7.53). Photo © Joel E. Arem, PhD, FGA. Used with permission.

Proustite crystals have magnificent red colors and good brilliance. Although facetable, they're too soft for jewelry use but highly desired as collector's gems.

Proustite Value

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

Proustite Information

DataValue
NameProustite
Crystallography Hexagonal (R). Crystals prismatic, rhormbohedral; massive, compact.
Colors Deep red, scarlet to vermilion red.
Luster Adamantine to submetallic.
Fracture Conchoidal to uneven. Brittle.
Hardness 2-2.5.
Specific Gravity 5.51 - 5.64
Birefringence 0.296.
Cleavage Distinct 1 direction.
Dispersion Weak
Luminescence None.
Spectral Not diagnostic.
Transparency Opaque to translucent, some crystals transparent.
FormulaAg3AsS3
Pleochroism Strong in shades of red.
Optics o = 3.088; e = 2.792. Uniaxial (—).
EtymologyAfter Joseph L. Proust, the French chemist who identified this mineral.
OccurrenceLow-temperature ore deposits or the upper portions of vein deposits.
proustite - Czech Republic
“Proustite,” Jachymov, (St Joachimsthal), Krusne Hory Mtns (Erzgebirge), Karlovy Vary Region, Bohemia, Czech Republic. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Comments

One of the rarest of all the better-looking collector gems, faceted proustite can display deep red colors with a beautiful and distinctive metallic surface.

Identifying Characteristics

Proustites and xanthoconites are dimorphous. They share a chemical formula, but proustites have hexagonal (trigonal) crystal habits, while xanthoconites have monoclinic habits.

This mineral has been called “ruby silver” and is a source of ore for this metal. The presence of silver in proustite causes a photochromic effect. Exposure to light over time turns it black.

This material has a bright red streak. Please note: don’t conduct streak testing on finished gems. Test material in inconspicuous spots as a last resort only.

proustite - Chile
“Proustite with Calcite,” Chanarcillo, Chile. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

Sources

Chile produces the world’s finest proustite, particularly from the Dolores Mine in Chanarcillo. Deep red, often transparent crystals occur here in sizes up to 6 inches long and very thick. The occurrence here is unique. Most cuttable gem material comes from Chile

Freiberg, Germany also produces fine crystals. Other German localities sometimes yield very fine, large, cuttable crystals and, occasionally, transparent fragments.

Other notable gem sources include:

  • Cobalt district, Ontario, Canada: small crystals.
  • Batopilas, Chihuahua, Mexico: small crystals.
  • United States: California; Colorado; Idaho; Nevada.
  • Czech Republic; Peru; Sarrabus, Sardinia.

Stone Sizes

Faceters could cut gems weighing several hundred carats from crystals displayed in various museums and private collections. However, that likely won’t happen. The National History Museum in London holds some of the finest specimens known. The Smithsonian Institution holds a 9.9-ct red stone from Germany.

Care

Due to its photochromism, don’t display this gem material under strong light. Furthermore, the stone’s very low hardness makes it a very impractical choice for a jewelry piece. (A coin could scratch it). Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.

proustite - museum display
“Proustite,” Marienberg District, Erzgebirge, Saxony, Germany, crystals 3 cm in height. 19th century East European museums commonly used wax and wood display pedestals like the one shown here. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.