Marcasite Jewellery dates back to the ancient Greeks, although it was the Victorians who really popularised it. Especially beloved simply by Queen Victoria herself, it has been recently brought back into fashion by fans of vintage style jewellery. With its antique look and soft, gentle gleam, marcasite jewellery has a lovely dull, faded charm, reminiscent of bygone days and faded glamour. Marcasite jewelry is not actually made from the mineral marcasite itself, as this is too vulnerable and tends to crumble when worked well. Instead, it is made from small items of pyrite (fool’s gold) gemstones established into sterling silver.
Cheaper marcasite jewelry will have low quality pyrite shards simply glued onto the silver (some jewellers may even use stainless steel instead of 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 and 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 likes with the Victorians). Brooches, earrings plus pendants made in this style is often found at antique markets around the UNITED KINGDOM. Pyrite is quite a solid material, therefore pieces of jewellery made from marcasite have a wonderfully solid and expensive feel. It looks great as part of an overall vintage look, or as an impressive contrast to more modern styles of outfit.
Marcasite jewellery can be quite fragile and you are recommended not to use ultrasonic cleaners or chemical dips to clean it.
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Most of the time it can just be cleaned using a damp cloth – since it is just not 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.