Marcasite jewellery is often refers to silver jewellery decorated with Pyrite gemstones. Sterling Silver and marcasite have been proven to be the perfect march, because the dark coloration of marcasite and makes it blend in spectacularly without making it look like it was a cheap stone.
People, nowadays, often confuse the mineral marcasite with pyrite. The gemstone used in jewellery making is pyrite, however pyrite used as a gemstone is widely called as marcasite. The name marcasite in jewellery terminology stems from the Arabic word for Pyrite, Markaschatsa. In general, it is lighter and more brittle than pyrite, but it is never used as a gem in jewellery, because of its chemically unstable structure.
According to Archaeological record, the Incas are the first known civilisation to use marcasite jewellery. There are considerable amount of marcasite jewellery pieces found in Incan burial chambers throughout South America. There are also archaeology discoveries in ancient Greece of the use of marcasites in jewellery.
In the 1600’s, marcasite jewellery became increasingly popular due to the introducing of Sumptuary Laws which forbade the use of diamond by ordinary people but the most aristocratic. The law were later introduced to other parts of Europe, including England and France. Since marcasite is an excellent imitation of diamond, the injunctive gave a boost to its production in the Europe market. In the late 1700’s, the Swiss and Italians began to produce Marcasite for the European market.
In 18th and 19th century, silver jewellery with marcasite became very popular in Britain. The popularity reached its peak during the Queen Victoria’s reign, due to the Queen’s endearment to marcasite jewellery. She frequently wore beautiful marcasite jewellery I public as a substitute for diamonds. The lower cost of marcasite jewellery made it affordable to the masses. At the time, marcasites became the standard substitute to diamond. If it’s properly crafted, marcasites were as beautiful as diamonds.
Today, the jewellery with marcasite is as popular as ever. The combination of sterling silver and marcasite give the jewellery a special vintage look. The most popular marcasite designers are romantic Art nouveau styles and classic Art Deco styles. The most commonly seen cuttings are oval cut and trilliant cut. It’s no longer the poor relation of diamond.