Marcasite jewellery usually refers to silver jewellery inlaid with small stones made of Pyrite. Pyrite is a naturally occurring mineral which can be commonly found in a variety of geological formations. Due to its brassy yellow colour it has been mistakenly mixed with gold, and hence its second name: 'Fools Gold'. However, it is quite different from gold as it is much lighter and stronger, and as such more resistant to scratches.
Marcasite itself is another naturally occurring mineral very similar to Pyrite in colour and properties. The difference is that Marcasite is more difficult to shape as it is softer and often crumbles into dust. The name Marcasite in jewellery terminology stems from the Arabic word for Pyrite, Markaschatsa.
Early traces of Marcasite jewellery have been found in ancient Greece and the burial grounds of the Inca people in Latin America. Cleopatra was also reported to wear Marcasite in order to preserve her beauty. Silver jewellery decorated with Marcasite was extremely popular in 18th and 19th century Britain, reaching its peak in popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria in England in the second half of 19th century. The Queen wore beautiful Marcasite jewellery as a substitute for diamonds, which were much more expensive.
Marcasite Jewellery today
The most common precious metal used with Marcasite is sterling silver. Due to the contrast between the two metallic grey shades, the combination is very striking and it gives a special vintage look to silver jewellery. Nowadays Marcasite earrings, rings, pendants, and brooches are present on the market at very affordable prices and they have their own antique charm liked by people of all ages.
Normally when used in jewellery the mineral is cut in a triangle or oval shape and can have a different colour - ranging from dark green to metallic grey (most common in jewellery).
The best tip for keeping jewellery decorated with Marcasite clean and fresh looking is to wipe it with a soft cotton cloth, which can be dry or slightly damp. Steamers or ultrasonic cleaners should be avoided, neither should it be soaked in water. As with Sterling silver jewellery in general, taking good care will make Marcasite jewellery more beautiful and more vintage with time.
All in all, Marcasite jewellery does make perfect vintage jewellery, it is a stunning value for money, it is beautiful, chic, elegant, stylish, and, what is more, it is said to have healing properties such as fending off negative energy.