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Earth Treasures: Pinolith Ornaments

By Chisom Ibemere

Pinolith is a rare metamorphic rock which was discovered first in the Austrian Alps in the 19th century.

Its name is coined from the combination of the Italian word “pino” meaning pine tree, and “lithos” meaning stone, as a result of its resemblance to the pattern of pine tree bark.

Pinolith basically occurs in the Austrian Alps, particularly in the Hochschwab region. It is found in the form of small deposits within the host rock known as gneiss.

While it is mainly found in Austria, small deposits of pinolith have also been reported in other parts of Europe and the United States.

Pinolith is primarily used as an ornamental stone due to its unique appearance. It is often cut into polished cabochons or used as a decorative stone in jewellery, such as pendants and beads. Pinolith’s eye-catching pattern, composed of white crystalline areas in a dark gray or black matrix, makes it sought after by collectors and lapidaries.

Pinolith is distinctive in its appearance having a white-to-gray crystalline areas contrasting against a dark gray or black background. It is a compact and fine-grained rock consisting of magnesite, dolomite, and graphite.

The crystalline inclusions mimic the appearance of pine tree bark, giving the stone its characteristic look. Pinolith has a hardness of approximately 4.5-5.5 on the Mohs scale, making it relatively soft compared to other gemstones.

Pinolith is limited in its occurrence and unique appearance and is considered a rare and valuable stone. Its exclusive source in the Austrian Alps adds to its scarcity and allure.

The global market for pinolith is niche, primarily catering to collectors, lapidaries, and individuals seeking distinctive and unusual gemstone jewelry. The value of pinolith can vary depending on factors such as size, quality of the pattern, and the demand in the market.


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