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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday's Gem - Serpentine

I have a special fondness for today’s gem (technically mineral) Serpentine.  Serpentine is a metamorphic rock that is very plentiful in California so much so that it is the actual State Mineral.  The reason why I like it so much is that it brings back fond memories of Terry’s and my first real rock-hounding expedition together. 

We drove at least 100 miles climbed to over 5,000 feet for an amazing rock-hounding experience.  Unfortunately since was very novice at that time we didn’t realize that the maps I bought and all the research I did on the site was not going to guarantee that we would actually find what we were looking for.  We wandered the mountains for several hours in 104 degree temperatures only picking up pretty specimens of Serpentine.  The site was supposed to be a treasure trove of abandoned mines with the possibility of garnet and other wonderful semiprecious gems and minerals, but Terry and I could only see green.

So we enjoyed our hike to the point of dehydration and decided that we better take a few of the specimens we found of Serpentine and call it a day.  The good thing was that we did not have any Serpentine in our collection since we just came from Wisconsin and so we still, to this day, have a large piece of our finds on display. 
A Couple of better specimens we found
Since Serpentine contains a mixture of magnetite, magnesite, talc along with other minerals such as asbestos the grades of the rock can vary quite a bit.  Some of the Serpentine we have found can only be used for display; it is much too soft and fragile to be used for anything else.  This type of Serpentine is called Crysotile (Fibrous.)  But some Serpentine can be a very durable beautiful green that will be wonderful for cabochons, beads, and carved collectibles, this is the Antigorite (scaly) Serpentine.  The color can vary from green to a yellowish green and even have a grey tone or be white.
A wonderful example of carved Serpentine from ArtFire Shop WaialuaPlantation at http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/waialuaplantation/4327787
Serpentine can be broke down into 3 more categories; Common (which is what we had found) Precious (which I wish we had found,) and Chrysotile Asbestos (which has industrial uses and not typically something I would want in my house.)  Precious Serpentine looks a little like Jade when it has been polished or made into jewelry.  But it should never be mistaken for Jade because there is a definite difference the look and in the value of the pieces.  I think every woman should have jewelry that is made from both, but that is just me.

This great ring was found on ArtFire at The Wild Tangent at http://www.artfire.com/ext/shop/product_view/thewildtangent/3719668
Metaphysically travelers used Serpentine as a stone for protection.  Often it was traders traveling from town to town or sailors that would wear Serpentine.  Native Americans wore it to protect them from any natural dangers while Roman’s used it to keep away hidden threats.  It has also been thought to be used in ancient cultures to help the dead with their travels from this world to the next.  It can also be used to protect the home from negative outsides forces such as intruders.  Overall Serpentine is the stone (metaphysically speaking) for most of us in this day and age; we are always on the move.
(for more information on Serpentine you can find references on my information page http://butterflyintheattic.blogspot.com/p/information-and-referrences.html)

Here are some great picks from ArtFire using Serpentine:

2 comments:

Meredithbea said...

You did a really great job with research. Loved your story!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for including my stone in your blog! Love reading it.