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Soapstone, also known as steatite, refers to compact masses of talc and other minerals known for their soapy or greasy texture. Due to its softness, it has been used since ancient times for carvings, ornaments and utensils.

Soapstone Polished
Soapstone Classification
Common Name Soapstone
Species Talc
Soapstone Optical Properties
Transparency Opaque-Semitranslucent
Dispersion Strength: None
Refractive Index 1.540-1.590
Birefringence 0.046-0.05
Optic Character Biaxial
Optic Sign Negative
Polariscope Reaction Aggregate (AGG)
Fluorescence SWUV: Inert to yellow, pink or greenish
LWUV: Inert to weak pink, yellow or greenish yellow
CCF Reaction None
Pleochroism None
Soapstone Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 1-2.5
Streak White
Specific Gravity 2.200-2.800 Typical:2.750
Toughness Poor
Inclusions Soapstone is often veined or mottled in appearance and are greasy or soapy to touch. Stones are very soft can be scratched with a fingernail and might show surface damage.
Luster Waxy, Dull, Pearly, Greasy
Fracture Uneven
Cleavage Perfect, in one direction
Soapstone Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name magnesium silicate hydroxide
Chemical Formula Mg3Si4O10(OH)2
Crystal System Monoclinic
Chemistry Classification Silicate

Soapstone Colors

  • Green Soapstone Green
  • Yellow Soapstone Yellow
  • White Soapstone White
  • Multi-color Soapstone Multi-color
  • Gray Soapstone Gray
  • Brown Soapstone Brown
  • Colorless Soapstone Colorless

Alternate Names

Steatite, Talc, Saponite

Countries of Origin

United States of America (the); Czechia; Madagascar; Kenya; Portugal; India; New Zealand; Canada; Austria; Unknown; Norway; China; Finland; Russian Federation (the); Brazil; Poland; Italy; Australia; France; Lithuania; Germany; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the)


Soapstone is easily scratched. If the soapstone has been heated it can obtain a mohs hardness between 5.5-6.5.

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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.