saf-ahyuh r

This gem was named in 1790 for William Withering, the English physician and naturalist that first described the mineral. This mineral is rarely faceted due to the scarcity of gem-quality rough and also because witherite dust (a primary component of rat poison) is toxic if inhaled. Cut gems are very small and are typically white or colorless.

Witherite Polished
Witherite Classification
Common Name Witherite
Species Witherite
Witherite Optical Properties
Transparency Transparent - Opaque
Dispersion Strength: Weak Fire
Refractive Index 1.529-1.677
Birefringence 0.148
Optic Character Biaxial
Optic Sign Negative
Polariscope Reaction Aggregate (AGG), Doubly Refractive (DR)
Fluorescence SWUV: Moderate bluish white or violet
LWUV: Strong bluish white
Pleochroism Unobservable
Witherite Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 3-3.5
Streak White
Specific Gravity 4.270-4.790
Toughness Poor
Inclusions Witherite has a sleepy appearance.
Luster Vitreous, Waxy, Resinous
Stability Poor
Fracture Uneven
Cleavage Good, in one direction, Poor, in two directions
Witherite Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name barium carbonate
Chemical Formula BaCO3
Crystal System Orthorhombic
Chemistry Classification Carbonate

Witherite Colors

  • Brown Witherite Brown
  • Yellow Witherite Yellow
  • Gray Witherite Gray
  • White Witherite White
  • Colorless Witherite Colorless
  • Green Witherite Green

Countries of Origin

United States of America (the)


Very soft and may be attacked by acids. Not suitable for jewelry.

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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.