What is Marcasite Jewelry? Let’s rediscover it:
Marcasite jewelry refers to the distinct looking vintage type jewelry that people have loved for over a century now. These jewelry items usually have a pyrite stone set into an intricate silver design.
Here is a complete guide on Marcasite jewelry from Hong Factory, a leading manufacturer:
A short history of Marcasite
The Inca civilization were the first known users of marcasite and pyrite gemstones for ornamentation and marcasite jewelry have been found in their burial chambers. Pyrite was also used to decorate their plates and ceremonial mirrors. Across South America, evidence of the use of marcasite have been found and that is how it has also come to be known as ‘the gemstone of the Incas’.
The Ancient Greeks and Thracians also crafted some beautiful jewelry marcasite jewelry, and many of the rulers of the Middle Eastern civilizations (Cleopatra included) also had some exquisite pieces.
The rest of Europe started appreciating marcasite jewelry during the 18th and 19th centuries. Queen Victoria preferred it and made it popular among the majority of people who couldn’t afford more expensive stones.
Marcasite – the stone and the confusion
Marcasite is a brittle stone that is brass colored and has a metallic appearance. It is often also called pyrite and Fool’s Gold. Actually, marcasite has a low hardness level that makes it quite brittle and not suitable for all types of jewelry and that’s why pyrite is used. Pyrite has a similar appearance but is more suitable and durable.
The word marcasite is actually an Arabic word that means pyrite and that is why the name has stuck for pyrite jewelry.
The design evolution of marcasite jewelry
It was during the Victorian era that the romantic Art Nouveau designs of marcasite jewelry became popular. Soon, these were followed by Art Deco designs that were inspired by nature, both are still popular styles today.
The designers of the 1920s explored the world of shapes and geometry and they used large pieces of marcasite as centerpieces.
Modern designers don’t hold their imagination back and continue to produce some fine designs. Today, marcasite jewelry pieces can range from the more budget friendly to higher-end priced pieces made from silver and set with unusual semi-precious and precious stones.
Besides newly designed pieces, people also look out for some vintage pieces or even replicas of these.
Maintaining and cleaning marcasite jewelry
The nature of pyrite makes it a moderately soft and brittle stone and it is often set with other soft gemstones. Silver, usually used to set the stones, is also not the hardest of metals.
Therefore, cleaning of marcasite jewelry is usually done with a damp cloth with warm soapy water on it. One should never use powerful detergents or hard brushes on these jewelry items and they should always be removed when taking a bath or doing work that involves the use of chemical cleaners.
Telling the difference between marcasite pieces
Most vintage marcasite pieces are set in silver, but you will have to check for the silver hallmarks, because a lot of pieces in the 1950s and 1960s were set in steel. Look for the tiny distinct stamp that will indicate if they are silver, sterling silver and .935, .800, or .835. Newer pieces will be marked with .925, so if you see this on a piece you must know that its not old.
Who are the best suppliers of marcasite jewelry?
Across the internet you can compare prices and the quality of marcasite jewelry. If you are looking to buy wholesale manufactured marcasite jewelry then you need to look no further than Bangkok, Thailand and the Hong Factory.
Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok, is the site where the Hong Factory first opened its doors in 1971. Tunanhong Roipaeng (Mr. Hong), a jewelry craftsman and his new wife Ingon, a gemologist, the couple started taking custom orders for retailers, while also establishing their own private clientele.
“Over the first ten years, we and our team focused all our efforts on the production of our marcasite range of jewelry. With time we grew and had to expand our premises and our range, but our marcasite jewelry still remains as popular now as it was back then.” Mr. Hong
The Hong Factory produces more than 8,000 designs of jewelry, these include marcasite and trendier ranges. The cutting-edge technology and equipment ensure that very step of the manufacturing process of the more than 2 million pieces that they manufacture yearly are all free of defects and ready to become the next family heirloom.
Marcasite jewelry continues to charm lovers of beautiful jewelry pieces around the world today as much as it did a century ago.