Serpentine | Gemopedia

Serpentine is well known to the world's mineralogists and gemologists, but is much less familiar to the general public. The marbled look of this green stone makes it ideal as an ornamental material, and it has been carved into a wide array of decorative objects throughout history. Although serpentine has a similar appearance to jade, it is a different, unrelated series of minerals.
Alternate
Names
Antigorite, Bowenite, Williamsite, Verd-Antique, Bastite, Chrysotile
Colors
Green To Greenish Yellow, White, Brown, Black

Serpentine Classification

Common Name

Serpentine

Species

Serpentine

Variety

Colors

Green To Greenish Yellow, White, Brown, Black

Alternate Names

Antigorite, Bowenite, Williamsite, Verd-Antique, Bastite, Chrysotile

Gemstone Groups

Key Separations

refractive index, magnification, spectrum and possibly appearance and surface condition

Comments

Misnomers: new jade, Soochow jade, Styrian jadeAntigorite is a hard compact variety of serpantine that occurs in pleated masses. Bastite is a silky or shiny pseudomorph of serpentine with the crystal shape of enstatite. Bowenite is the apple green variety of Antigorite that is translucent light to medium green to yellow green and sometimes spotted. Chrysotile is the fibrous variety of serpentine. Williamsite is the oil green variety of Antigorite. It is semitransparent to translucent intense green often with black inclusions. Verd-antique is dark green serpentinite breccia that is mottled in appearance with white calcite or dolomite veins.

Serpentine Optical Properties

Transparency

Semitransparent - Opaque

Refractive Index

1.56-1.57
Tolerance:(+0.004/-0.070)

Birefringence

Optic Character

NA

Optic Sign

NA

Polariscope Reaction

Aggregate (AGG)

Fluorescence

SWUV: Inert to weak blue
LWUV: Inert to weak green

CCF Reaction

Pleochroism

None

Dispersion

Comments

Serpentine Chemistry & Crystallography

Chemical Name

hydrous magnesium iron phyllosilicate

Chemical Formula

(Mg,Fe,Ni)3Si2O5(OH)4

Synthesis

Crystal System

Monoclinic

Classification

Silicate

Nature

Natural

Crystallinity

Microcrystalline

Comments

Serpentine Characteristic Physical Properties

Hardness

2.5-5

Streak

White

Specific Gravity

2.44-2.8 Range:0.23/-0.13 Typical:2.57

Toughness

Poor

Inclusions

Stones often have black inclusions of chromite or magnetite octahedra, color is usually spotty with white veining or moss-like inclusions. Stones will not take a good polish and often show scratches due to low mohs hardness.

Luster

Waxy

Stability

Fracture

Granular, Uneven

Cleavage

None

Comments

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