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Hematite Balls
MFA# 14.1112
Cylinder seal
MFA# 93.1483


A metallic black-gray or dark red mineral primarily composed of iron oxide. Hematite is commonly found throughout the world. The primary source for hematite is a sedimentary deposit in the Lake Superior district in North America. Other deposits include Brazil (Minas Gerais), Venezuela (Cerro Bolívar) and Canada (Labrador, Quebec). Hematite physically occurs in many forms: specular ore (steel gray color, shiny crystals); micaceous hematite (gray, scaly flakes), Red ocher (soft, fine-grain, red powder); kidney ore (massive, gray botryoidal form), and pencil ore (gray, fibrous crystals). Because hematite has a high Iron content (70%), it is primarily used for smelting iron. Hematite has been used since ancient times as a red pigment in paints and glazes. It was also used for seals, beads, and small carvings since the early 3rd millineum. Hematite is still used as a paint pigment. It is also used in Jewelers' rouge for polishing glass. Hematite can be used to produce the sparkle in Aventurine ceramic glazes.

Maya vessel
MFA# 1972.1172

Synonyms and Related Terms

iron (III) oxide; haematite (Br.); Hämatit (Deut.); Blutstein (Deut.); Eisenglanz (Deut.); Specularit (Deut.); Iserin (Deut.); Roteisenstein (Deut.); Roteisenerz (Deut.); hematites (Esp.); hématite (Fr.); hematiet (Ned.); hemtyt (Pol); hematite (Port.); iron sesquioxide; red iron ore; bloodstone; iron oxide red; red iron oxide; ferric oxide, red ocher; black diamond; iron rose; kidney ore; martite; paint ore; specularite

Raman (MFA)

Hematite crystals, large (Forbes MFA 70) 50X resize.tif







Chemical structure



  • Noncombustible. No significant hazards.
  • Fisher Scientific: MSDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Trigonal crystal system with thick granular or tabular crystals
  • Cleavage = none
  • Fracture = uneven to splintery
  • Luster = metallic
  • Streak = dark red to cherry red
  • Fluorescence = inert
Composition Fe2O3
CAS 1309-37-1; 1317-60-8
Mohs Hardness 5.5 - 6.5
Melting Point 2849 C
Density 4.2-5.3 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 159.6922
Refractive Index 2.78; 3.01
Birefringence 0.280 (usually not detectable)


Properties of Common Abrasives

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • Mineralogy Database: Hematite
  • Gem Identification Lab Manual, Gemological Institute of America, 2016.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com Comment: hematite" [Accessed December 11, 2001].
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • C.W.Chesterman, K.E.Lowe, Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979
  • Wikipedia: Hematite (Accessed Sept. 7, 2005 and Jn 2023)
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Jack Odgen, Jewellery of the Ancient World, Rizzoli International Publications Inc., New York City, 1982
  • George Savage, Art and Antique Restorer's Handbook, Rockliff Publishing Corp, London, 1954
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • A.Lucas, J.R.Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and Industries, Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd., London, 4th edition, 1962
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=4.9-5.3