The term Marcasite is actually a jewelry trade name because of the confusion between marcasite and white iron pyrite, and the term is applied to the small and faceted stones that are inlayed in Sterling silver. The bright metallic luster of this opaque crystal, once faceted is a nice complement when paired with silver.
In the Victorian era, marcasite silver pendants, as well as other marcasite jewelry was very popular. Marcasite was prized due to its smoky black hue, as marcasite having a sparkle similar to that of diamonds. The classic Victorian design has stood the test of time and should be a standard addition to every modern woman’s jewelry wardrobe.
A professional gem cutter facets the marcasite in order to catch the light. Often marcasite is set with a bit of jewelers cement in the setting base, prior to being placed in the silver setting in order to keep it securely in place. With a good setting however you will never see the glue and this is something to look out for while shopping for a quality Marcasite Silver pendant. If you do come across this, the craftsmanship is sub-par and best to be avoided.
You may notice while shopping for marcasite silver pendants, that similar pieces may have slight colored differences, that can range from a brassy yellow with a greenish tint, a deep smoky Silver – black, with a unique multicolor hue, which is most common and is actually a form of tarnish caused by oxidation.
When you’re choosing a marcasite silver pendant, it is a good idea to check the setting, to see if the stones are loose. Most modern marcasite pieces are made to look as though they are antique, so it can be difficult to judge if the marcasite is set in real silver.
To make sure that your marcasite silver pendant is genuine, turn the piece over and look for the silver stamp. A genuine silver setting will have some kind of “hallmark ‘stamped somewhere on the setting. Most reputable jewelers will point this out for you or will not have a problem with you asking where it is. What you’re looking for is, a stamp that says either .925 or some form of the word Sterling silver.
Some jewelry manufacturing companies have their own unique imprint and this may be the only stamp visible. Marcasite silver pendants that may come from other countries, such as England, the hallmark may be a picture or a symbol and this is an acceptable mark for genuine Sterling silver that your jeweler can verify.
Once you have chosen your marcasite silver pendant, keeping it beautiful is relatively simple but there are a few precautions to take in order to protect your piece. A random occurrence with marcasite is a condition known as “pyrite decay “and although it only affects certain pyrite specimens, it is something to keep an eye out for. Pyrite decay is when the stone slowly disintegrates into a white powder over time. Although it is not that common in faceted stones, if this does occur, it is best to take the piece to a jeweler and have the affected stone removed, to prevent it from spreading to surrounding stones.
If your piece needs to be cleaned, it is best to use a soft jewelers cloth, instead of immersing your marcasite silver pendant into commercial cleaners, as this can damage not only the marcasite, but could act as a solvent to the jewelry cement and you could lose a stone. If your marcasite silver pendant needs a deep cleaning, it is best to take it into the jewelers. Ensuring that your beautiful marcasite silver pendant will last a lifetime.