Valued highly in Ancient Rome for its brilliant dark shine, magnetic hematite decorated the jewelry, weapons, and armor of Roman citizens and soldiers. It was valued for its protective properties and thought to aid in attaining worldly goals. As a hard, metallic stone, hematite represented the strength of will to attain one’s desires. The combination of its dark color and shiny luster is eye-catching and attractive without being overwhelming.
Hematite’s name comes from the Greek word haima, which means blood – haimatites, in Ancient Greek, means “blood-red stone.” You may ask why that’s so, seeing as most of the hematite sold nowadays is polished, shiny, and of a dark grey color, and not blood red. That’s because hematite is a form of iron oxide, and in its original, unpolished form, many varieties of hematite have rust-red streaks. Ancient Greek warriors would rub hematite dust all over their bodies before battle to ward off injury. From 2500 to 500 BC, ancient cultures in the Near East, such as the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, used hematite to make cylindrical seals. These were rolled onto clay to leave impressions and functioned like signatures do today, and were also used to make decorative or protective amulets. This artistic tradition produced beautiful pieces of carved magnetic hematite seals – small or large cylinders with mythological figures, hieroglyphs, and humans carved into them, shining with a dark black luster.
Because of its association with blood, hematite was also worn as a protection against bleeding of all kinds. It was believed to be able to stop bleeding and prevent too much bleeding during childbirth, which was a common and lethal complication in the past. In the Middle Ages, farmers wore hematite as a talisman that was believed to protect their crops, and magicians and alchemists contended that hematite helped power their spells and alchemical experiments. Artists ground up hematite to use as a pigment or as a polish. At the dawn of time, the prehistoric man used hematite to make cave paintings. In modern times, hematite is still used as a metal polishing powder that is sometimes called “jeweler’s rouge.”
Hematite is opaque and hard, but it’s not the hardest of stones. Ranking at 5-6 on the Mohs hardness scale, hematite is harder than pure iron, but also more brittle. Hematite is magnetic and can be used together with magnets to produce desired results. It is found wherever iron is found, with the largest deposit being in Canada, around Lake Superior. But countries as diverse as Switzerland and Brazil have hematite deposits, and high-quality hematite, suitable for cutting, is extracted in places like Germany and Elba in Italy.
Magnetic hematite is an excellent addition to any stone enthusiast’s collection. With its rich cultural history and background, it is a symbol of the inventiveness and splendor of human achievement. Its deep, dark shine will delight artists, jewelers, and collectors alike. Its affordable price makes it an excellent entry into the world of stone and mineral collection. Order your magnetic hematite now and receive a beautiful, age-old connection to human history and culture!