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Serpentine

>> Group(s) : silicates
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Serpentine, or rather the serpentines, is a group of over 20 minerals quite difficult to differentiate the one from the other, the best known of whom are : antigorite, chrysotile and lizardite. These Phyllosilicates are weathering products of magnesium silicates.
The Ophite, sometimes called "ophite jade" or "serpentine jade", which is a rock, from the Greek "ophis", meaning snake, because the appearance resembles the skin of a snake, consists of three minerals: Antigorite, (named after the Antigorio valley in Italy), massive, scaly or platy, going from light green to dark green or yellow to yellow-green, of 3.5 hardness and density of 2.55; Chrysotile, from the Greek "khruso", for gold, and " tilos ", for fiber, due to the color of its fibers, which can be fully and very fine fibrous (which is asbestos) and Lizardite.

The bowenite is a variety of green apple serpentine, covered with clear veins.
The connemara is a mixture of serpentine and marble.
The williamsite is olive green with black inclusions.
Verdite is the green variety imbued with fuchsite, which is often translucent and cabochon cut.

Exploited sites

They are very numerous, they are found in France in lands made of basic rocks or igneous and of metamorphic pyroxenites. Deposits are very common worldwide.

See pictures of the mines / other pictures

Use in jewelry

The Maoris, in the absence of nephrite (jade), have longtime used a translucent green antigorite for pendants in the shape of little men (the "Tikis").
The serpentine is used as an ornamental stone under many trade names, including the famous "antique green". It has often been called "Jade from..." followed by the name of the place where it was found, because it resembles jade, but this usage is prohibited as likely to mislead the purchaser.
Its main use being to replace the jade!
The antigorite and chrysotile can be "shimmering".

Daily care and precautions

The serpentines are in general quite strong and solid.

Looking alike stones

grossular , jade

Historical healing properties

It would be a protective stone. It would have the property to protect against the bite of venomous animals and also against physical aggressions, hence its use by people living in risky areas (major cities, railways and subways, war sites, dangerous countries ...) .

Imitations and treatments

It can be dyed or heat treated.

Chemical characteristics
(Mg,Fe)3[Si2O5](OH)4

magnesium phyllosilicate

Physical characteristics

Main color : green

Other colors : brown, yellow

dark green veined from yellowish to brown

Color of streak : white

Luster : greasy, silky

Hardness : 2.5 to 5.5

Density : 2.40 to 2.70

Cleavage : indistinct

Fracture : conchoidal, splintery

Optical properties

Transparency : translucent, opaque

translucent in thin slices

Refractive Index : 1.555 - 1.575

Double refraction : 0.008

Weak

visible double refraction : no

Dispersion : aucune

Pleochroism : absent

Number of colors : 1

Absorption spectrum : 492 - 464

For bowenite

Fluorescence : variable

Green, yellow

Crystals

Microcrystalline masses

cristaux

Crystal system : monoclinic

Other informations

Astrological sign : Gemini, Virgo, Capricorn

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Correspondance
astrological
  • Gemini Gemini
  • Virgo Virgo
  • Capricorn Capricorn

Promotes openness.