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Subject:Tremolite or Serpentine?
Posted By: beadiste Tue, Mar 28, 2017 IP:

A friend and I are having a discussion about what type of stone was commonly used for inserts into those little deco-era cloisonne smoking sets - cigarette boxes, matchboxes, small round dishes for ashtrays...

I've thought that the white pieces are so-called "Soochow Jade," more accurately called bowenite serpentine. I could easily scratch the edge of the piece with a duck on a lily pad, using a large steel sewing needle; white scratch dust.

In the boxes pictured, the piece on the left is jade, the character stone seems to be smoked serpentine, but what about the whitish pieces? Serpentine, or can a case be made for tremolite?

Subject:Re: Tremolite or Serpentine?
Posted By: John R Wed, Mar 29, 2017

Tremolite has a specific gravity of about 2.9
Bowenite has a specific gravity of about 2.5
If you can separate the inserts you could test

Subject:Thank you, John
Posted By: beadiste Thu, Mar 30, 2017

Guessing the glue on these is some sort of old organic goop that could easily be dissolved to remove the stones ... but am not sure the pieces are worth that amount of effort. They're nifty, but not, I think, so valuable.

Do you use specific gravity liquids, btw, or the distilled water method?

Subject:Re: Thank you, John
Posted By: John R Fri, Mar 31, 2017

Here is a link to a post from last year that
shows my method.

Subject:Re: Thank you, John
Posted By: John R Wed, Apr 05, 2017

Remember all you're measuring is an element's desire to sink versus float.

Cork measures at 240 sg and lead ore measures at 7500. Thank the ancient alchemists for their attempt to identify the elements that could recreate gold. We now have a database that can help confirm the composition of minerals. An absolutely pure mineral example should easily fall within its known measurements. A mixed example such as a variegated mineral should be an average of the two.

Discovering the nature of the maker is an important element in proving authenticity.

Subject:Re: Tremolite or Serpentine?
Posted By: Ernest Wilhelm Wed, Mar 29, 2017

the white ones are usually made from Serpentine, while the brown ones are Serpentine dipped in a color bath, to make it look old.

Subject:Thank you, Ernest!
Posted By: beadiste Thu, Mar 30, 2017

If I remember correctly, serpentine would be consistent with the white dust when scratched with a steel point. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |