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Working with Marcasite


#1

I have been asked numerous time to make jewelry pieces made of
Marcasite. I have never made jewelry from this material before.
Recently, I have located small pieces from Calif, but,they are in
nugget forms. I need to know who to break the nuggets down to a
powder to show the sparkle crystals that I see in so many Marcasite
jewelry pieces. also, would a person glue this material or is there a
process in the creativity of using it. I would appricate any
you can give me.

Thank you,
Camile


#2
     I have located small pieces from Calif, but,they are in
nugget forms. I need to know who to break the nuggets down to a
powder to show the sparkle crystals that I see in so many Marcasite
jewelry pieces. also, would a person glue this material or is there
 a process in the creativity of using it. I would appricate any
you can give me. 

Camille, Marcasite used in jewelry is usually not actually the
mineral marcasite, but usually just iron pyrite, which looks about
the same. The key thing to note is that these are not used as broken
little pieces. If you break the stuff down, either to small bits, or
a powder, you won’t have anything even remotely sparkly. Broken
surfaces are generally quite dull looking, so if just broken, it
won’t look like much. And powder? That’d be just a dark powder.
No sparkle at all. What you’ve seen are actually little "rose cut"
stones. Flat backs, with a few shallow facets on the crown, and a
beveled round girdle. They are actually cut stones, not just bits and
pieces. In the best marcasite jewelry, these are actually set,
usually “bead” set. In sterling, it’s not that hard to do, since the
silver is so soft. Much of what’s commercially seen though, is just
glued in, usually with super glues (cyanoacrylate) or epoxy. I
prefer the super glue type, since one can, if working quickly enough,
use the corner of a tissue to wick away most of the glue after the
piece is places, so you don’t get obvious glue residues all over.
You can buy the marcasite stones from various stone dealers,
especially those that deal mostly in commercial type stones. They
come in calibrated millimeter sizes, down to about a half millimeter
or so.

In setting them, buy yourself a set of “pearl drills”. These are
little spade point drills, made with an almost flat faced front edge,
except for a center spur. They look much like the larger wood boring
drills that are also flat faced, rather than twist drills, with a
center spur and flat front side wings. These drills produce a flat
bottomed hole with a center depression, used for setting in seed
pearls and marcasite, for the most part. The flat bottomed round
hole produced lets you just glue these things in easily, as you can
fit the hole so the marcasite just drops in enough so it’s beveled
girdle is in the hole, and the facetted top is above it. If you
choose to raise beads to hold them in, rather than glue, be a bit
careful. They’re fragile and somewhat easy to break, even in silver.

Peter Rowe


#3

Dear Camille, I don’t know about where you live, but in Australia,
marcasites are supplied from pyrites cut into simple flat-backed
facetted forms and sold in a range of metric sizes based on diameter.
These are purchased from jewellery supply houses or semi-precious gem
dealers. Out of fashion for quite a time, marcasites are now making a
comeback and astute buyers are picking up old pieces quite cheaply.
These older pieces can be quite dulled with age. If not too badly
worn or damaged, they can be restored beautifully with sodium
bicarbonate mixed into a creamy paste and brushed into the jewellery
with an old toothbrush or simply rubbed in with
your fingers, then washed in warm water.


#4

Camile, The great majority of marcasite jewelry on the market is mass
produced. In most cases the marcasites are glued in place. Some times
they are bead set, held in place with a bead of silver raised with a
graver. A number of stone dealers sell marcasite. It is usually round
with six triangular facets on the top.

Joel Schwalb
@Joel_Schwalb
www.schwalbstudio.com


#5
    I have been asked numerous time to make jewelry pieces made of
Marcasite. Recently, I have located small pieces from Calif,
but,they are in nugget forms. I need to know who to break the
nuggets down to a powder to show the sparkle crystals that I see in
so many Marcasite jewelry pieces. 
Bear in mind that most "marcasite" jewellery is actually pyrite

(and, in fact, some of it is merely cut steel). Marcasite and
pyrite are two extremely similar minerals. They can both be cut and
polished like any other gemstone.

In the rough, they occur in a wide range of forms: I suspect that

when you say ‘nuggets’ you are referring to something which is
frequently known as a ‘sand dollar’. These have a fibrous texture,
and they tend not to sparkle very much (although the Aztecs polished
flat faces on one side of them and used them as pocket mirrors,
because of their silvery, metallic lustre). You would probably have
more success with the crystalline forms (“fool’s gold”). I believe
that you can also get drusy forms, which might be what you refer to
when you say “sparkle crystals”. But bear in mind that people are
can now coat drusy minerals with metallic surface coatings, which can
make them golden or iridescent - is this what you are referring to?

-Michael.


#6
I have been asked numerous time to make jewelry pieces made of
Marcasite. I have never made jewelry from this material before.
Recently, I have located small pieces from Calif, but,they are in
nugget forms. I need to know who to break the nuggets down to a
powder to show the sparkle crystals that I see in so many
Marcasite jewelry pieces. also, would a person glue this material
or is there a process in the creativity of using it. 

Hi Camile, Marcasite is usually cut and facetted just like diamonds,
rubies etc and is mounted in the same type of settings. The only real
difference is that the individual stones are usually no more than
1/8" in diameter and many are used in close proximity to cover a
surface. I’ve never heard of the material just being ‘crushed up and
glued on’

Best wishes,
Ian
Ian W. Wright
Sheffield UK