Marcasite Jewellery dates back to the ancient Greeks, although it was the Victorians who actually popularised it. Especially beloved by Queen Victoria herself, it has recently been brought back into fashion by fans of vintage style jewellery.
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With its antique look and soft, mild gleam, marcasite jewellery has a beautiful dull, faded charm, reminiscent of days gone by and faded glamour. Marcasite jewellery is not actually made from the mineral marcasite itself, as this is too fragile and tends to crumble when proved helpful. Instead, it is made from small pieces of pyrite (fool’s gold) gemstones fixed into sterling silver.
Cheaper marcasite jewellery will have low quality pyrite shards just glued onto the silver (some jewellers may even use stainless steel rather than silver), but this means that the pyrite stones can be easily dislodged. Higher quality items will have cut stones expertly set into the metal with small pins. Depending on how it is cut and the quality of the stone, pyrite has a colour somewhere between bronze plus gunmetal, with an iridescent shine. This kind of jewellery is commonly made into Art Deco style designs or to make jewelry that mimicks natural forms (dragonflies and flowers were particular favourites with the Victorians). Brooches, earrings plus pendants made in this style is frequently found at antique markets around the UK. Pyrite is quite a solid material, so pieces of jewellery made from marcasite possess a wonderfully solid and expensive feel. It looks great as part of an overall vintage look, or as a striking contrast to more modern styles of dress.
Marcasite jewellery can be quite fragile and then you¡¯re recommended not to use ultrasonic cleaners or chemical dips to clean it. Most of the time it can just be cleaned having a damp cloth – since it is not really meant to be a highly reflective, shiny piece of jewellery it does not matter too much if the sterling silver tarnishes a little bit. When the tarnish gets too much, you can just gently shine it with a silver polishing towel to restore its look.