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>> Group(s) : amphiboles
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Actinolite belongs to the amphibole group, discovered in 1794 by the mineralogist Kirwan. The name actinolite is derived from the Greek "aktis", meaning "beam" or "ray" and "lithos", meaning "stone"; referring to the mineral's radiating fibrous nature.
The name "actinolite" was given by René Just Haüy.
The actinolite is a constitutuent of green schist, along with chlorite it gives them their green color. The compact fibrous actinolite is one of the components of the nephrite (one type of Jade).
The apple green to emerald green gem variety is called smaragdite, its Mohs' hardness is 6,5.
The term "amiante" refers to fibrous varieties called "asbestiforms", such as the byssolite,and the chrysotile which is a magnesium silicate mineral without iron nor calcium.
When actinolite forms very thin, green hairlike filaments inclusions in quartz, they are referred to as "Thetis' hair ", who was the goddess of the sea.

Exploited sites

Major sources are France (Isere and Orezza Valley - Piedipartino Stazzona in Corsica for smaragdite), Austria (Zillertal), Switzerland (Zermatt) and Norway.
The gem variety is found in Madagascar, Tanzania and Canada.

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Use in jewelry

Transparent actinolite is rare and is faceted for gem collectors.
Translucent smaragdite is often cut into cabochon.

Daily care and precautions

Sensible to acids, must be kept far from chemical products. Fibrous Actinolite, called asbestos, must never be inhaled because its microcrystals cause lung cancer.

Looking alike stones

epidote , jade , serpentine , tremolite

Historical healing properties

Component of jade, in the nephrite variety, its proprieties are nearly the same, actinolite would be related to kidneys and to the bladder. It would be laid over the chakra root and the heart one. It is considered to have calming properties, it would balance the emotional and the physical, providing serenity, and it would help in eliminating.

Chemical characteristics

iron magnesium inosilicate

Physical characteristics

Main color : green

Other colors : white, brown, grey, colourless

Color of streak : white

Luster : silky

Hardness : 5.5 to 6.5

Density : 3.02 to 3.50

Cleavage : perfect

Fracture : uneven

Optical properties

Transparency : transparent, translucent

often transparent in small crystals

Refractive Index : 1.614 - 1.654

Double refraction : 0.020

Definite, biaxial (-)

visible double refraction : yes

Pleochroism : weak

Number of colors : 3

Yellow-green, light green, bluish green

Absorption spectrum : 503 - 431

Fluorescence : none

Inclusions : it constitutes inclusions in quartz


Rare as elongated and prismatic crystals, often as fibrous and radiating aggregates


Crystal system : monoclinic

Other informations

Astrological sign : Aquarius

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it provides serenity.