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Limonite gets its name from the Greek word “marshy lake” because it was found marshes. Limonite is a mineraloid that contains varied amounts of goethite and hematite. It is a result of weathering of hematite, magnetite, and pyrite. It is often found as a pseudomorph as it replaces other minerals.

Limonite Polished
Limonite Classification
Common Name Limonite
Species Limonite
Limonite Optical Properties
Transparency Opaque-Translucent
Limonite Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 4-5.5
Streak Brown
Specific Gravity 2.700-4.300
Toughness Poor
Luster Dull, Adamantine, Vitreous
Stability Brittle
Fracture Conchoidal, Uneven, fibrous
Cleavage Indeterminable
Limonite Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name Iron ore
Chemical Formula FeO(OH)·nH2O
Crystal System NA
Chemistry Classification Mineraloid

Limonite Colors

  • Black Limonite Black
  • Brown Limonite Brown
  • Yellow Limonite Yellow

Alternate Names

bog iron, brown iron, brown hematite and brown ocher

Countries of Origin

Cuba; United States of America (the); Luxembourg; Congo (the Democratic Republic of the); Russian Federation (the); Ukraine; Brazil; Italy; Australia; France; Germany; India


Limonite has been used as pigment since the Neolithic. It is still used today for yellow and brown pigments. There is evidence that Limonite has been mined for iron production since 2500 BCE and it used to be called “bog iron”. It is considered too impure for modern iron commercial mining.


Limonite can be very soft. Please take care when handling. Soluble in hydrochloric acid.

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Tim Matthews


Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.