Selenite Properties for Identification

This unusual crystal group from Australia illustrates both yellow and water-clear forms. Photo Courtesy Richard Gross

Selenite properties are on full display with a visit to most rock, metaphysical and museum gift shops. It’s most often found in wands, carved into towers, and can also be found in jewelry, especially as a pendant. Here’s more about this easy purchase and beautiful display piece.

Moon Crystal

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Selenite (CaSO4·2H2O) is the crystal form of gypsum.

Its name comes from the Greek word Selene which means “moon.” This is fitting as selenite is most commonly seen with a pearlescent white luster. Selenite does come in other color specimens including gray, yellow, brown, reddish-brown, and green. With a hardness of two on the Mohs scale, selenite crystals can be scratched with a fingernail.

For those with metaphysical beliefs, selenite is said to keep away negativity and aid in mental clarity. Selenite does not have to be cleansed or recharged as it doesn’t store energy. It can be used to cleanse other crystals.

Selenite Formation

Gypsum uses are many. It is a sulfate that forms where salty water evaporates such as in salt lakes and shallow seas. Selenite crystal forms vary from curved cave growths to platy clusters, to clear rhombic shapes. Selenite twins in a fishtail or spearhead shapes. Long, thin crystals can also be bent or twisted in spirals as seen in ram’s horn selenite. Desert rose rocks made of selenite are a combination of wind, water, and sand.

This is a platy crystal cluster of desert sand crystals from Mexico.
Photo Courtesy Richard Gross

What is mined in Mexico? The Naica mine in Chihuahua, Mexico is world-famous for the giant selenite crystals in its Cave of Crystals. Some of the crystals are bigger than telephone poles – exceeding 30 feet in length. The crystals formed in the hot calcium sulfate-rich waters of the cave. This is not unusual as selenite forms in many other caves in this fashion. The perfect cooling temperatures in the Cave of Crystals allowed them to grow to their massive size.

Countries of Origin

United States, Canada, Morocco, Brazil, Mexico, Madagascar, Australia, Spain, China, France, India

What is a Platy Crystal?

Selenite wands provide an easy way to observe platy crystal formations – they are long, thin, and appear flaky.

How to Care for Selenite

Because selenite is easily scratched, it’s best to store it away from harder crystals. Selenite can turn cloudy if exposed to heat. Also, be sure not to expose it to water or salt.

This story about selenite properties for identification previously appeared in Rock & Gem magazine. Click here to subscribe! Story by Richard Gross & Pam Freeman


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