Smithsonite Gemstone: Properties, Meanings, Value & More

smithsonite gemstoneSmithsonite gemstones occur in a spectacular array of vibrant, eye-pleasing colors. The most notable shade you’ll find is a bright, turquoise-blue reminiscent of tropical waters. 

Is the smithsonite rare? Yes and no — See, smithsonite occurs all over the world. Facetable crystals, on the other hand, are scarce. 

Ever felt overwhelmed by your emotions? Does stress get the better of you? The smithsonite stone meaning is one of clarity and peace of mind. Hello, sweet tranquility. 

What is smithsonite stone made of? Where can I get it? How much does it cost? To answer these questions and more, keep reading our Smithsonite Gemstone Guide! 

smithsonite gemstone

About Smithsonite Stone

Some gems go by more than one name. What is another word for smithsonite? The semi-precious gemstone is also known as zinc spar. 

Less-common pseudonyms for smithsonite include:

  • Aztec stone

  • Bonamite

  • Carbonate of zinc

  • Calamine (formerly)

Although smithsonite isn’t a traditional zodiac stone, some say it’s especially supportive for the Pisces and Virgo signs in astrology.

Like chromite, smithsonite also makes a special appearance in the mega-hit video game, “Final Fantasy XIV.” Players are encouraged to mine for smithsonite ore as they level up and progress in the game. Fancy a duel?

But how does one identify smithsonite anyway? Understanding its mineral traits is the best place to start. 

pink smithsonite gemstone cabochon

Smithsonite Specifications & Characteristics

Smithsonite is a zinc carbonate mineral commonly found in stalactites and globular, botryoidal (grape-like) masses (sometimes with a druzy surface). 

The mineral occurs in various colors and with inclusions of other minerals. Smithsonite can even pseudomorph into other minerals like calcite or fluorite.

As mentioned, smithsonite in crystallized form (rhombohedral shaped) is hard to come by — but not impossible

Here is an overview of smithsonite’s mineral data:

  • Formula: ZnCO3

  • Mineral family: Calcite Group

  • Mohs hardness: 4 to 4.5

  • Color: White, gray, yellow, green to apple-green, blue, pink, purple, bluish gray, and brown; colorless to faintly tinted in transmitted light.

  • Crystal structure: Trigonal

  • Luster: Vitreous to pearly

  • Transparency: Transparent to translucent

  • Refractive index: 1.62 to 1.85

  • Density: 4.42 to 4.44

  • Cleavage: {1011} Perfect

  • Tenacity: Brittle

  • Fracture: Subconchoidal

  • Streak: White

  • Luminescence: Fluorescent; Long UV=gray pale yellow.

  • Pleochroism: None

Smithsonite is actually one of two zinc-bearing minerals. So let’s take a peek at what sets them apart. 

Rough Raw Hemimorphite Specimen, Blue Mineral, Collector Mineral Specimen BPictured above: Hemimorphite

Smithsonite vs. Hemimorphite

Hemimorphite and smithsonite share some similarities. They’re both usually microcrystalline, translucent, and often intergrown in botryoidal crystal habits. This makes smithsonite easy to confuse with hemimorphite. 

In fact, up until two centuries ago, they used to be recognized as the same (more on that in a bit). However, the two minerals are very different. 

So how can you tell the difference between hemimorphite and smithsonite? First, smithsonite is a carbonate mineral with a trigonal crystal structure. Hemimorphite, on the other hand, is an orthorhombic silicate. They also differ in density and cleavage. 

You can always test the two minerals if you're still unsure which is which. 

Here’s what to do:

  • First, dip a small piece of the mineral into 10% hydrochloric acid.

  • If you observe CO2 bubbles, it's smithsonite.

  • If it dissolves into a gel-like consistency, it’s hemimorphite.

Now that you know how to identify smithsonite, you’ll want to keep an eye out for some of its siblings.

Smithsonite (cobalt-rich) from Tsumeb Mine, Otavi-Bergland District, OshikoPictured above: Cobalt-bearing smithsonite

Types of Smithsonite

There are few varieties of smithsonite you could come across. They are:

Cobalt-bearing Smithsonite

A variety of pink, co-bearing smithsonite from Baja California Sur, Mexico. 

Dry Bone Ore

A variety of massive or botryoidal smithsonite with a dull, dry appearance.


A Cu-bearing variety of smithsonite from Chihuahua, Mexico.


A ferroan (iron-bearing) variety of smithsonite. 

Turkey-Fat Ore

An old name for a botryoidal variety of smithsonite colored bright yellow due to cadmium sulfide inclusions. 

Now onto smithsonite’s etymology. 

orange smithsonite crystal

Smithsonite Meaning & History

We mentioned earlier that smithsonite didn’t exist until a few hundred years ago. That’s because, historically, smithsonite was discovered with hemimorphite (under the name ‘calamine’) before being classified separately. 

In 1832, French mineralogist François Sulpice Beudant differentiated smithsonite by naming it after James Smithson. Smithson was a British mineralogist and benefactor of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

So technically, smithsonite was discovered (as calamine) in 1747 by Johan Gottschalk Wallerius. The name ‘calamine’ derives from lapis calaminaris, a Latin corruption of the Greek cadmia (καδμία), the old name for zinc ores in general. It drew inspiration from the Belgian town of Kelmis, whose French name is "La Calamine" and is home to a zinc mine.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, industries used calamine to manufacture brass for batteries, wire combs, and solders (metal joints). At one point, vets and doctors even used it in the medicinal and veterinary industries to absorb moisture from irritated and weeping skin.

Speaking of healing, let’s see how smithsonite stacks up to other gems in terms of metaphysical abilities.

blue smithsonite healing crystal

Smithsonite Healing Properties

Almost every gem has properties allowing you to use them as healing stones to aid your mental, physical, or spiritual wellness. Smithsonite supports all three!

Physical Healing

Stress and worry are known to manifest as tension within your physical body. Smithsonite can relieve tension and loosen you up physically. As a result, it eases pain, soothes body aches, and restores your nerves. 

Some other physical benefits smithsonite can provide include:

  • Healing reproductive organs

  • Boosting physical energy

  • Easing osteoporosis

  • Clearing the sinuses

Emotionally, what is smithsonite used for?

Emotional Healing

With regards to your emotions, smithsonite is believed to mirror its tension-soothing abilities and calm the mind. So if you’ve ever felt like you were at your breaking point or on the verge of an emotional breakdown, smithsonite regenerates you, delivering the solace you seek.

This stone is thought to bring out your “inner child” and inspire feelings of joy and compassion. It can bring harmony, release fear, and heal emotional traumas. Talk about a natural stress-reliever! 

Chakra Healing

Like many gems, smithsonite can also be used as a chakra stone to balance one or more of your chakras (or energy centers along the body). 

Smithsonite is attuned to all seven chakras — aligning all your energy centers.

yellow smithsonite gemstone faceted

Smithsonite Gemstone Properties

Like all gems, smithsonite for sale has to be graded before it makes it to market. Experts assess specific characteristics to determine the gems’ values. 

Smithsonite is appraised by color, cut, clarity, and weight. 


Smithsonite comes in a beautiful assortment of head-turning hues. They result from impurities such as copper, cobalt, cadmium, or iron.

The main ones you’ll come across are variations of sea foam-green or ocean-blue. 

Rarer and more expensive colors include pale to mint green, jade green, pink, yellow, and colorless to almost colorless.

Chatoyant smithsonite is rare, sought-after, and highly valued. 


Smithsonite is often cut into collector gems and used as an ornamental stone. 

You’ll commonly find smithsonite sold in its rough (or uncut) form, which is also the most affordable way to buy it. 

Because the mineral is relatively soft, it takes skilled lapidaries and jewelry-makers to work with the gem. 

As discussed, facetable smithsonite specimens are incredibly rare. However, high dispersion makes properly faceted gems one-of-a-kind collector’s pieces. 

Smithsonite cut en cabochon is less expensive but equally appealing. 


When smithsonite is colorless, it’s not quite as translucent or brilliant enough to be used as a diamond alternative, but it makes for a beautiful gem nonetheless. 

Specimens often form with inclusions of other gems like azurite, malachite, or willemite, to highlight a few.  

Carat Weight

Smithsonite can occur in small or massive formations, but specimens rarely exceed 800 grams. 

However, well-formed crystals aren’t as common, garnering them higher prices. 


Smithsonite isn’t usually treated or enhanced in any way, but some botryoidal aggregates are surface-oiled to enhance luster.

But before smithsonite ever makes it across a gemologist’s desk, it must be extracted. Let’s see how smithsonite is formed!

smithsonite rough specimen with botryoidal habit

Smithsonite Formation & Sources

Smithsonite is a secondary mineral in rocks surrounding many significant zinc deposits. 

They usually occur at the surface or shallow depths, making it one of the earliest zinc minerals discovered. Why? Smithsonite on the surface means there’s a major zinc deposit just underneath. 

Most smithsonite is a consequence of weathering. The zinc is freed from the deposit’s primary mineral, usually sphalerite. When zinc ore oxidizes with carbon dioxide, it also forms smithsonite. In this case, it’s a secondary mineral occurring as fracture filling and botryoidal coatings on country rock. Smithsonite, formed from redeposited zinc, is a perfect example of a secondary mineral.

Quality crystals of smithsonite are rare. Botryoidal coatings on rocks and fractures are more common. Smithsonite also commonly occurs as dry-bone ore, an impure and friable variety of smithsonite with a honeycomb-like structure.

Geographically, where is smithsonite found?

Mining Locations

Smithsonite occurs all over the world.

Notable deposits are in Greece, Australia, South Africa, Mexico, and the USA.

blue smithsonite crystal raw

Smithsonite Price & Value

Smithsonite is a reasonably common mineral that occurs worldwide, making it quite affordable compared to rarer gems on the market. 

Smithsonite rough, the most affordable, generally retails for about $0.09 to $0.14 per carat. Higher quality specimens start at around $0.77 per carat.

Faceted smithsonite comes in a variety of gemstone shapes and fancy cuts. They typically start at around $23 to $54 per carat. Exceptional gems can sell for as much as $325 per carat.

Smithsonite cabochons are also widely available, costing between $0.70 to $1.00 per carat. Higher-quality cabochons can retail for as much as $30 per carat.

Prices for smithsonite jewelry vary depending on the alloys and additional gems used. However, general prices are as follows:

  • Rings average between $20 to $100; however, some have fetched prices well over $1100. 

  • Pendants and necklaces vary from $20 to $60 for low to mid-quality pieces. Higher-end ones can cost anywhere between $260 to $400. 

  • Breaded bracelets generally go for about $35 to $60. 

Carved smithsonite also varies in price depending on size, gem quality, and intricacy of the design, but prices generally teeter between $12 to $200.

After you splurge on a smithsonite crystal of your own, you’ll want to learn how to maintain its beauty and energy for years to come. So how do you clean smithsonite?

Smithsonite Care and Maintenance

Every crystal requires special gemstone care to ensure they maintain their appearance and healing abilities. 

To clean your smithsonite, use soapy water, a good rinse, and a gentle cloth or soft-bristled brush. Let it dry completely before storing it in a cool, dry place.

Smithsonite is quite fragile, so protective settings in jewelry are encouraged. Always remove your smithsonite jewelry before doing anything too rigorous or prone to impact. 

Keep your smithsonite safe by avoiding:

  • Acid or harsh chemicals

  • High heat

  • Ultrasonic cleaners

  • Steam cleaners

  • Abrasive minerals

Follow these simple steps, and your smithsonite will stay gorgeous forever! 

Find Solace with Smithsonite

There isn’t a more perfect time to make use of smithsonite’s soothing energies and therapeutic vibrations than right now. Its calming vibes will make you forget about rising gas prices, political tensions, and work pressures — shifting your perspective to focus on the things that bring you joy.

In addition to its transformative energies, smithsonite makes a unique and vibrant addition to any crystal collection. Its cotton candy colors will bring a smile to anyone who lays eyes on this eclectic crystal. 

Life is hard enough — why not try your luck with a natural pick-me-up that’s as pretty as it is restorative? 

Buy smithsonite gemstones today!

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