Geology Home Page physical geology historical geology planetary gems
Roger Weller, geology instructor
by Keriann Grisham
Photo Courtesy of Roger Weller/Cochise College and the National History Museum
Staurolite is a dull brown silicate mineral that is known to change. Its name comes from the Greek word, stauros that means cross, and lithos referring to the interlocking crystals it forms. This mineral rates a 7-7.5 on the Moh’s Scale of Hardness, and is recognized by its ability to form crystals in the shape of a cross.
The unique quality of
Staurolite is that it forms crystals, which cross each other at 60 and 90-degree
angles. The most familiar type is the 60-degree crystal, however, the 90-degree
crystals are the ones that people look for the most. Staurolite also goes by
another name called the “fairy stone”.
Drawings Courtesy of Roger Weller/Cochise College
Photo Courtesy of Roger Weller/Cochise College
Along with it being a collector’s item, it is also used to make necklaces. Some people also believe that this mineral is good luck charm, and that it has healing properties. Its no surprise that this mineral is highly coveted, as well as a shame to the fact that no ones interested in the 60 degree angle crystals, that don’t get much recognition at all.
It can be found in places like Virginia, Montana, Georgia and Russia. The best place to find staurolites, however, is in Patrick County, Virginia. This is because this state has a park open to the public were people may go hunting for free for this precious mineral. Staurolite also happens to be the official state mineral of Georgia.
Long ago people told a sad story to the Cherokee Indians. It was about this man full of kindness, wisdom, and who taught people the right path, which led to peace. They told them that although he taught of peace, he had enemies, which refused to listen to the message, resulting in the man being tortured and killed.
After the Indians heard this story they began to sing a song in honor of this man, whom they called The Son of The Creator. The animals came beside them, and the Indians cried, being filled with great sorrow. After they cried they noticed that their tears turned the stones beneath them into cross -shaped stones. The Cherokee always honored these rocks, and were thankful that they had been given this gift, allowing them to always remember the story of the man.