Marcasite is an attractive mineral which is used to make wide variety of jewelry. It has an orthorhombic crystal structure and is physically and crystallographically distinct from pyrite although they have the same chemical formula. Marcasite can be difficult to distinguish from pyrite due to lack of existence of crystal habit. Marcasite is lighter and more brittle than pyrite and has a pale yellow to almost white color and a bright metallic luster. It can be formed as both primary and secondary mineral and it generally forms under low temperature and highly acidic conditions. As a primary mineral it occurs in sedimentary rocks such as shales, limestones and low grade coals. As a secondary mineral it forms by chemical alteration of a primary mineral such as pyrrhotite or chalcopyrite. It is commonly associated with dolomite, fluorite, pyrrhotite, pyrite, galena, sphalerite and calcite. Marcasite is inherently unstable under atmospheric conditions. It reacts more readily than pyrite under high humid conditions and produces iron sulfate and sulfuric acid as a result of disintegration. The disintegration of pyrite is known as “pyrite decay” and is a major problem for conservators involved in geological collections. Low humidity can prevent or slow down the reaction.
Marcasite can also form as pseudomorphs over other minerals and fossils which results in different shapes and forms. Marcasite is widespread and found in numerous geographic locations. Some of the place where it is fund is Joplin, Missouri; Grant County, Guanajuato, Mexico; Escale Pas de Calais, France; Wisconsin and Hardin County, Illinios, USA, Peru, China and Russia.
Marcasite is used to make sterling silver jewelry, as an ornamental stone and is also collected as a mineral specimen. Marcasite is quite desirable to make jewelry because it is quite affordable, has a glossy surface which has a beautiful shine and can be used in wide variety of jewelry pieces such as necklaces, earrings, brooches and rings. Jewelry decorated with marcasite has been gaining popularity over the years and is also used as a substitute for other precious metals.
The demand for jewelry and precious stones will be a major driving factor for marcasite industry. The affinity for precious metals and jewelry particularly from the emerging economies of the Asia Pacific and Middle East will increase the demand for marcasite. Rise in income levels, growing awareness, and changing lifestyles has lead to increase in demand for jewelry from China and India that has increased the production and consumption of marcasite.
The Asia Pacific, especially the emerging economies such as China and India are an important market for marcasite. The demand for marcasite is also growing to a lesser extent in Japan. In recent years the popularity of marcasite has grown in the major markets of Europe and Latin America. In India, marcasite has been traditionally used a part of brides outfit. The economic growth of Brazil has raised the purchasing power of the local population which has positively affected the consumption of jewelry. Marcasite has also been a major export of Thailand to the U.S. In addition, the growing per capita income of countries in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and UAE will further fuel this market.
Some of the players in this market are Calumet and Hecla Mining Company, Tintic Bonanza Mining Company, Montana Mining Company, BHP-Billiton, Rio Tinto and Anglo American among others.
Key geographies evaluated in this report are:
Key features of this report