The Lizardite stone is a form of Serpentine from the kaolinite family of silicates.
It forms at much lower temperatures than most other stones and is therefore very soft.
But it has a host of uses in the building and construction industries as well as making a stunning piece of jewelry.
Unearthed in the Lizard Peninsula around Cornwall, England by Jack Zussman and Eric James William Whittaker in 1955, this stone has worldwide distribution.
It’s found in many locations and has that unmistakable appearance of snake skin.
What Is Lizardite Stone?
A magnesium silicate hydroxide mineral, Lizardite is a form of Serpentine and is the most common variety in this family.
It’s also a member of the group of serpentine minerals with kaolinite.
Lizardite takes on a trigonal crystal system that forms as masses, plates and fibers along with prismatic crystals. It has the chemical formula Mg3(Si2O5)(OH)4.
The snake skin appearance of Lizardite forms via high magnesium veins which experience only lower temperatures.
Therefore, it compresses with other materials like pyrite, magnetite, chromium and others.
It’s not uncommon to find pyrite and magnetite contained within or near Lizardite deposits as well.
Where Do You Find Lizardite Stone?
Lizardite has a huge worldwide distribution, more than any other form of Serpentine.
The following is a list of the most well known places to date.
- Kennack Cove in Cornwall, England, UK
- Shetland Islands, Scotland, UK
- Woodsreef, New South Wales, Australia
- Quebec and British Columbia, Canada
- Minnesota and Montana in the USA
- New Zealand
- Lombardy, Val Trebbia, Val Sissone and Piacenza in Italy
- Yamaguchi and Fukuoka Prefectures in Japan
How Do You Identify Lizardite?
The colors of Lizardite make it immediately identifiable.
It’s usually lime green, but it can also be greenish blue, dark yellow, light yellow, brown or white.
Aside from the color, Lizardite has a waxy, resinous or greasy appearance with perfect cleavage.
You can use your fingernail to test the surface since it’s very fragile, sitting at 2.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness.
Translucent Snake Skin Appearance
Because it’s a variation of Serpentine, it will look like scales or skin of a snake or lizard.
It’s translucent, soft and may form a solid solution series with another mineral, népouite.
This can vary in proportion with nickel and magnesium.
Polymorphous Action of Lizardite
However, if it’s a polymorphous version of Enstatite, Olivine or Pyroxene, then it’s Bastite and will have a silky luster.
This occurs from the formation of hydrothermal alteration.
So, because Olivine often has too much iron to accommodate the soft Serpentine structure, it may occur as magnetite that changes to hematite.
This is what gives some Lizardite the red-like mottled look that adds to it looking like serpent skin.
The crystals bend easily and it has a hexagonal look that’s orthorhombic.
Are There Any Other Stones or Materials that Look Like Lizardite?
Because Lizardite is a form of Serpentine, you can easily mistake it for the other two forms in the family: Antigorite or Chrysotile.
They also have a similar chemical composition of Mg3Si2O5(OH)4.
All three have layered structures.
One layer has a pseudo-hexagonal network of linked silicate that all points in one direction.
This connects via a sheet layer of Brucite on only one side.
This is why it’s difficult to differentiate between them.
Chrysotile ; Antigorite versus Lizardite
Chrysotile has fibrous veins that appear silky and is an important source of asbestos.
But, Chrysotile will have a cylindrical or spiral curvature in its fibrous looking nature.
Antigorite will have a corrugated sheet structure that’s very different from Chrysotile or Lizardite.
The good thing is that Lizardite is the most common of the three and it doesn’t have any asbestos at all.
Therefore, when in doubt about which Serpentine form you have, you can safely assume it is Lizardite.
But only the highly trained eye will be able to decipher this scant distinction.
For What Do People Use Lizardite?
All forms of Serpentine, especially Lizardite, has a great many uses in the building and construction industry.
It has been a prized stone for architecture for many years.
It polishes to a beautiful luster for things like facing stones, mantles, wall tiles and window sills.
Therefore, it makes for great indoor cladding.
Heat-Resistance Makes for a Perfect Insulator
The fibrous veins Serpentine is notorious for are heat-resistant and don’t burn.
This makes for an ideal insulation substance. In this regard, the possibilities are endless.
It can grind and blend with other, stronger materials to create bricks, roofing, ovens, fire pits and other such applications.
Ideal for Gemstone Collections
But, it’s also a gorgeous gemstone and looks beautiful set in jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets.
Because of its softness, it’s an ideal material for sculpture and you can carve into it with great alacrity.
In this regard it’s very forgiving and you can fashion almost anything.
Potential to Reduce Carbon Emissions
Plus, it may have some promising use in reducing carbon emissions.
Since it’s a repository for carbon dioxide waste generated by burned fossil fuels, it can serve a dual purpose.
Not only will it resist burning, but, when mixed with water, can produce quartz and magnesium carbonate.
What Does a Lizardite Stone Mean?
Because the discovery of Lizardite only occurred within the last century, most people always classified it as Serpentine.
Therefore, the meaning to be will come from centuries of use from cultures around the world.
But this will impinge on how that culture values (or fears) snakes.
In general, though, the consensus is it can protect from snake bites and other forms of symbolic “venomous” danger.
Its workability lent itself to fashioning slabs into votive statues for offerings to deities and decorative household items.
Lizardite is an interesting member of the Serpentine family of minerals.
It’s heat-resistant, non-asbestos and has a great many practical applications.
Regardless, it’s a gorgeous stone that makes for beautiful architectural decoration or jewelry.
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