This mineral is better known as coil. This name occurred due to the fact that outwardly the texture of the stone resembles the color of snake, in particular in Latin. Serpens also means “serpent”. Noble serpentinite is characterized by color of different spots of gray, yellow, dark green and brown. Veins of calcite or dolomite can add shades of white.
Features of noble serpentinite
Noble serpentinite is a metamorphic rock – that is, it is formed in the process of changing rocks under the influence of pressure and temperature. The structure of this mineral can be fine- or coarse-grained, diverse columnar, foliaceous or very dense. Noble serpentinite may contain inclusions of olivine, sometimes – garnet, pyroxene, talc, magnetite, chromite and other minerals. The surface of noble serpentinite is smooth to the touch. Another feature of this stone is a low resistance to external factors.
Texture of noble serpentinite
Noble serpentinites may have different textures, which allows them to be divided into several groups. For example, the texture of knotty serpentinite is represented by black and green shades, silver-gray small spots still can complement the pattern, broken veins and “chains” of magnetite inclusions can also occur. Leopard-spotted coils are also called “swamp coils”. If such a stone is not processed, the pattern on it is weak, but streaks and spots of magnetite can be observed on the dark background. Spotted and striped (“striate”) texture is represented by gray and green shades, but the pattern can still be mixed with light gray or yellowish thin calcite veins or inclusions of silver black magnetite. Stones with vein-spotted pattern differ in shades of light green, and the pattern is characterized by numerous branching thin veins of white calcite that seem to cut the surface through.
Depending on the color of the mineral, noble serpentine can be identified by different names:
• rhycolite – a banded variety of the mineral, with yellow-green texture;
• bowenite has a fine-grained translucent texture;
• williamsite – samples are bright green;
• porcellophite – greenish, opaque porcelain-serpentinite;
• rethynolite – a honey-yellow mineral with resinous luster;
• nephrytoids are also referred to as noble serpentinites of “dirty”-green color (although this mineral is better known to us as jade);
• ophicaltcite is a transitional rock, which is formed as a result of serpentinization of marble, the texture is characterized by shades of green.
Deposits of noble serpentinite
The main deposits of noble serpentinite nowadays are Cornwall Peninsula, Scotland, Germany (Tsёblits), Austria (Salzburg), Poland and Switzerland. But noble serpentinite is mined within other territories, where it is also given unique names:
• On Kola Peninsula dense green noble serpentinite, including samples of black color with green veins ophite, is extracted, this stone is called the stone Pechenga ophite
• In Karelia the mineral is known in Kozhnozerskiy variant of ornamental serpophite
• In the North Caucasus yellow noble serpentine is called Karachaite, Labite or Adygeite
• In Kazakhstan the rare samples of pink serpentinite (the color was due to the inclusion stichtite) were found
• In Finland (near Lappeenranta) the samples of banded serpentinite with veins of calcite were found – it was called the zebra stone
• To the west of Ireland (near Galway) serpentized konnemar marble is mined, it is called konamara or Irish green marble
• In Italy, antique serpentine, or “Verde Antique”, which is a antigorite serpentinite, has been popular , since ancient times
• In Greece (Kasambala, near Fessalonika) in ancient times, Thessaly stone (or Thessalian breccias) was mined, it was a serpentine with branching veins of calcite and breccia fragments
• In New Zealand, a translucent nephrite-like serpentinite is known, it is called tangivaite
• In West Australia translucent dark green or bluish serpentine is known as pilbar jade
• In India, green translucent bowenite remains popular (this stone is so durable that in Punjab they even made knives from it)
• In China, green noble serpentine is called Imperial or, succinctly, “yu-yen”
• Thin-foliacious, greenish-white or bluish-green serpentinite in New Jersey is called marmolite
Noble serpentinite has some similarities to onyx marble, some jades and other partially greenstone rocks. Pseudophyte that is composed by fine flaky chlorite (in Austria it is called Styrian jade) resembles it as well. Furthermore, verdite – the stone with green texture, red and yellow stripes, and fuchsite – which is formed by chrome mica, are noteworthy as well.
Usage of noble serpentinite
Noble serpentinite is known as one of the first materials used for carving cylinder seals. In the East, this stone was used to simulate the more expensive ones – nephritis and jade. 400 years ago noble serpentinite was known as “the chemist’s stone” because pharmaceutic ware was made of it, and then – they began to grind delicate items. The coil is highly decorative, so it is used for exclusive countertops, lining of fireplaces, making various accessories and decorative interior items and souvenirs. For example, noble serpentinite is found in the works of masters of “Faberge” factory, and in Germany, in “Green Vault“ Museum of Dresden one can see the vase 15.5 cm high (German master 1500) made of this stone. Polished slabs and blocks can be used for interior decoration of the interiors – but note that such design projects are unique. Noble serpentinite is also present in the Florentine mosaic.