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Smithsonite is named for James Smithson, the English founder of the Smithsonian Institution who first identified the mineral. Although it rarely forms crystals, smithsonite is most commonly found as botryoidal or stalactitic masses or as honeycombed aggregates. A member of the calcite group of minerals, smithsonite is prized for its variety of crystal forms. Smithsonite comes in a wide variety of colors depending on the impurities present. The presence of copper gives smithsonite its green to blue coloring. Trace amounts of cobalt are responsible for pink to purple hues while cadmium makes smithsonite yellow, and iron gives it a brown to reddish-brown color.

Smithsonite Polished
Smithsonite Classification
Common Name Smithsonite
Species Smithsonite
Smithsonite Optical Properties
Transparency Translucent-Transparent
Dispersion Strength: Strong Fire Value: 0.037
Refractive Index Over The Limit 1.621-1.849
Birefringence 0.225-0.228
Optic Character Uniaxial
Optic Sign Negative
Polariscope Reaction Aggregate (AGG), Doubly Refractive (DR)
Fluorescence SWUV: inert to strong green or red
LWUV: inert to strong white to yellowish white
CCF Reaction None
Pleochroism Unobservable
Smithsonite Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 4-4.5
Streak White
Specific Gravity 4.000-4.650 Typical:4.300
Toughness Poor
Luster Vitreous, Pearly
Fracture Uneven, Splintery, conchoidal
Cleavage Perfect, in three directions, good
Smithsonite Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name zinc cabonate
Chemical Formula ZnCO3
Crystal System Trigonal
Chemistry Classification Carbonate

Smithsonite Colors

  • Pink Smithsonite Pink
  • Yellow Smithsonite Yellow
  • White Smithsonite White
  • Purple Smithsonite Purple
  • Multi-color Smithsonite Multi-color
  • Green Smithsonite Green
  • Brown Smithsonite Brown
  • Blue Smithsonite Blue
  • Red Smithsonite Red
  • Gray Smithsonite Gray

Alternate Names


Countries of Origin

Greece; Austria; United States of America (the); Unknown; Namibia; Italy; Mexico; Australia; Germany; Spain

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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.