Adorn Answers ~ What is Marcasite Jewellery?
What is Marcasite Jewellery and how do we care for it? My love of vintage style can often be seen in the jewellery collections which I curate for Adorn. The epitome of 1920s style for me is our Marcasite collection. Enduringly popular, eye catching and glamorous, Marcasite is one of our favourite collections.
I’m often asked about Marcasite, it’s origins and history. If you’re as fascinated as we are with this unusual gemstone then read on to discover more…
Where is Marcasite found?
Taken from the Arabic marqashītā for pyrite, Marcasite is found throughout the world including
- Folkestone in England
- Kansas and Missouri in America
- Throughout Europe including Austria, Germany, France and Slovakia
Marcasite forms at low temperatures, especially in sedimentary environments such as clays, shale, coal beds, and in low temperature veins. It’s structure and relative softness (about 6- 6.5 on the mohs scale) means that although we use the term ‘Marcasite’ , the material in Marcasite jewellery is usually Pyrite. Pyrite is a gemstone that’s very similar in appearance to gold but can also be darker and metallic looking like the marcasite gemstone. When small pieces are set into silver jewellery, you get the famous marcasite jewellery style.
History and Famous People
Used in jewellery since the Inca Empire, Marcasite has a long and rich history. Incas used Marcasite in jewellery and ornaments. Large quantities of marcasite were found in their burial chambers. The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra is also rumoured to have worn Marcasite. Popularity in England soared in 1861 when Queen Victoria entered mourning. As she required her entire court to wear black and avoid opulent jewellery, Marcasite became popular as an understated alternative.
Fashion and Style
Much of our Marcasite collection is inspired by the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Butterfly and Dragonfly themes and the straight, clean lines of Art Deco give this collection true vintage style. We often team with Opalite or different colours of Cubic Zirconia to ‘lift’ the Marcasite and add colour to the designs which take their inspiration from nature. Marcasite really comes to life under low lights such as candle light and is perfect for wearing on an evening out to a bar or restaurant with subtle, low lights. My favourite tip when choosing Marcasite jewellery for a Christmas present is to encourage the recipient to open their gift underneath the Christmas Tree. The sparkle reflected from the fairy lights is truly beautiful.
Cleaning and Care
Marcasite is what I like to term a ‘delicate flower’ of the jewellery world and requires careful care and attention. As we often use a water based epoxy along with the Marcasite setting, if exposed to water this will dissolve and loosen your stones causing you to lose them. Marcasite jewellery is an adornment and should be treated as such. Your collection will look superb for a special day or evening out but we don’t recommend daily wear as this can cause your jewellery to be caught or knocked which will result in lost stones.
When wearing your Marcasite jewellery I recommend dressing and attending to your ablutions first, including your perfume and hairspray and then added your jewellery at the last moment. Like Pearls, Marcasite should always be the last thing on and the first thing off. Never use silver dip! This will cause irreversible damage to the silver and marcasite stones giving a brown, burnt appearance. A gentle wipe with a soft cloth is all that is required to keep your Marcasite jewellery looking beautiful. If you find that the silver setting needs to be cleaned, a silver cloth will work well. Don’t be tempted to use water, it won’t end well!
Speaking of water, always remove marcasite jewellery before participating in any activities involving water/liquids, such as hand washing, cleaning, bathing/showering, swimming, using jacuzzi’s/sauna’s/steam rooms etc. Our Marcasite is often set with water-based epoxy and this will come off if immersed in water and the stones may become loose. Detergents, oils, perfumes, make-up and hairspray all contain chemicals and can cause tarnishing and damage. As a precaution you could stop all housework… but maybe I’m just daydreaming. Marcasite should be worn for the intended lifestyle, draped on a chaise or fainting couch, being adored in a beautiful ballroom or posing for photographs in the walled gardens of your mansion (on a sunny day of course)
Gently wipe jewellery clean with a soft cloth when needed. Store in the original box or pouch to ensure your Marcasite jewellery doesn’t get caught or scraped by your other jewellery.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our exploration of Marcasite Jewellery. If you’d like to add a piece to you collection then do have a browse on our website.
Wishing you Joy and Sparkle
Laura Jo ✨✨