Meerschaum / Sepiolite

Meerschaum, also called sepiolite, is an extremely fine-grained, soft, light rock. Found as compact, opaque masses by having an earthy or chalky appearance, it might be white or grey having a yellowish or reddish tinge. Easily fashioned and frequently intricately carved, meerschaum continues to be utilized in Turkey for bowls for tobacco pipes. With use, the smoke changes the white stone for an attractive yellow color.

Today the most crucial source is Eskischehir in Turkey. Other localities include Czechoslovakia, Spain, Greece and United States.

Light and porous enough to float on water, meerschaum derives its name in the German for sea foam.

Meerschaum Pictures

Hand carved meerschaum egg

Meerschaum Properties

Chemical Composition: 
Hydrated magnesium silicate
Crystal System / Forms: 
Monoclinic
Hardness: 
2.5
Specific Gravity: 
1.50
Lustre: 
Dull to greasy.
Refractive Index / Birefringence: 
1.51 - 1.53 / None.
Geological Occurrence: 
Turkey, Czechoslovakia, Spain, Greece and United States
Cuts & Uses: 
Bead, Cameo