Hematite is a naturally occurring mineral with the chemical formula Fe2O3. It is mined as an ore of iron and you’ll notice it’s quite heavy because of that iron content. It is commonly metallic steel gray to reddish brown.
You may notice that hematite jewelry is relatively inexpensive compared to other gemstone jewelry. There’s a very good reason for that – almost all hematite beads are imitation. This means that they look like the natural mineral, but they are man-made. This is also why you’ll see imitation hematite in so many more shapes than natural gemstones (including the rings in the necklace shown above). The larger bead companies that sell on-line are generally very good about providing information on synthetics, imitations and treatments and may use names like “hematine” and “hemalyke” to denote imitation hematite. Magnetic hematite is also an imitation gem. Imitation gemstones are not “bad” – they have a place in the gem world in providing beautiful and generally more affordable versions of rare gemstones. I love the look of hematite and often create and wear imitation hematite jewelry.
In the jewelry industry, ethical dealers tell customers when a gem is imitation, synthetic or has been treated in some way. This is called disclosure. However, when at bead shows, I’ve learned that some sellers are not as knowledgeable about their products as they should be and do not provide this information. So, when I buy beads, I ask lots of questions and consider the items carefully before purchasing. This does not mean that I have not been fooled! When buying at gem shows, it’s just not possible to have all the necessary equipment to do testing. I generally assume that any “hematite” beads that I buy are imitation and you probably should too!
Thanks for reading!