A plentiful, affordable, and colorful gem, fluorite is considered one of the two most popular collector's stones worldwide, second only to quartz. Fluorite also has wonderful clarity with no need for enhancements. This pretty stone has so many appealing features, it's no wonder that Roman historian Pliny the Elder named fluorite his "most precious substance."
|Fluorite is a relatively soft gem that can scratch easily, so it should be cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft brush or cloth. Avoid storing fluorite with other gems or jewelry that could scratch it and dull its surface. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners should also be avoided.|
|Occurring naturally in a full spectrum of colors, fluorite has been given the distinction of being the "most colorful mineral in the world." It is most commonly found in cool shades of blue, green, pink, and purple, but all colors are possible. In addition to the rainbow of appealing hues, recent discoveries have yielded color-change fluorite, which turns from green to purple. |
|Fluorite's hardness makes it more of a collector's stone than one best suited for mass-market jewelry, though it does nicely in jewelry, especially as large stones. Consequently, and because fluorite occurs naturally in well-formed cubic crystals in a wide range of colors, fluorite isn't often cut into faceted gemstones but is left in its unique, attractive specimen form for collectors. Fluorite specimens are valued on a variety of factors, including their unique aesthetic value and their color.|
Name Origin and Meaning
Fluorite's name comes from the Latin words fluo or fluere, meaning "to flow," because fluorite melts easily and is used as flux in the manufacture and refining of steel, aluminum, and lead.
Fluorite is so strongly fluorescent that it is the root of the word "fluoresce." Color-change fluorites have recently been discovered.
Among the many gem-related facts that modern gemology has been able to learn from Pliny the Elder is the record of young Roman Emperor Nero's $240,000 (in modern figures) purchase of a fine fluorite sometime in the first century A.D. Because it is quite soft, fluorite artifacts dating back to many years B.C. are rare. Fluorite carvings from that same time period have been uncovered in the ruins of Pompeii, but nothing older of any significance has been found.
Rare in the gem world, fluorite also has an American history; in a burial pit in Illinois near the Ohio River, archeologists discovered a fluorite carving from the Mississippi Moundbuilders era, dating between 900 and 1650 A.D.
One of the oldest and most famous deposits of fluorite in the world is the Blue John Cavern in Derbyshire, England, which produces a purplish-blue fluorite known as Blue John. The name comes from the French bleu et jaune, which translates to "blue and yellow," so named because of the characteristic yellow banding among the purplish-blue in this unique fluorite. While the English mines are nearly depleted, fluorite resembling the classic Blue John fluorite has been found recently in China, and other banded fluorites, like the one above, are very popular among collectors.
Fluorite is the state mineral of Illinois, and the American Fluorite Museum is housed in the former office of the Rosiclare Lead and Fluorspar Mining Company in Rosiclare, Ill. Though the mine closed in 1954, the Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky region was once one of the largest fluorspar mines in the United States. In nearby Marion, Kentucky, the world's largest and finest fluorite collection is on display at the Ben E. Clement Mineral Museum, named after the high school science teacher who amassed hundreds of fluorite and other mineral specimens over many years.