Hematite gets its name from the Greek word 'hamatitis', which means blood-red, after the color of the mineral in its powdered form. Hematite is dense and hard, it is the most important ore of iron because of its high iron content and its abundance.
The mineral occurs in various habits: steel-gray crystals and coarse-grained varieties with a brilliant metallic luster are known as specular hematite; thin, scaly forms make up micaceous hematite; and crystals in petal-like arrangements are called iron roses. It also occurs as short, black, rhombohedral crystals and may have an iridescent tarnish. The soft, fine-grained, and earthy form of hematite is used as a pigment.
Hematite has a long history of use as a pigment. As a gemstone, this material is often carved but very rarely faceted. Despite its association with blood and the color red, hematite’s color can range from black and metallic gray to brownish red in thin slivers or crystals.
For jewelry purposes, gem cutters often make cameos, intaglios, carvings, beads, or cabochons from hematite. Although reasonably tough with a hardness between 5 and 6.5, hematites are also brittle. Avoid mechanical cleaning such as steam or ultrasonic processes. Instead, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water for cleaning. Consult gemstone jewelry cleaning guidelines for more recommendations.