Posted on by Nevil Agrawal

Dazzling, sleek, and as green as its name suggests—serpentine is a family of more than 20 translucent to opaque minerals. Their shiny surface and calming color make it a sought-after gem for decorative items, architectural elements, cultural artifacts, and jewelry.

While not as well-known to average users, expert craftsmen, mineralogists, and jewelry makers are familiar with the serpentine stone. One could say it resembles nephrite jade, but the serpentine rock comes from an entirely different family.

An interesting thing about serpentine is that it includes a variety of viridian-colored stones. Each has its own special hue of green. Many of these stones can be used for decorative pieces or jewelry.

What is serpentine?


Serpentine’s chemical formula is hydrous magnesium iron phyllosilicate (Mg,Fe,Ni, Mn,Zn)2-3(Si,Al,Fe)2O5(OH)4. Some say that it was named by the German Catholic scholar and scientist—Georgius Agrigola. He was nicknamed ‘the father of mineralogy’ and gave this green, mottled stone its moniker after the Latin word ‘serpens,’ meaning snake.

It’s widely accepted that the group of minerals is named after a process called serpentinization. This is a process that occurs at low temperatures. Due to this, the famous fibrous or plate-like patterns are formed on these rocks. And these patterns resemble snake scales, hence the name.

The serpentine family of rocks includes many minerals to form three species of polymorphous rocks—antigorite, chrysolite, and lizardite. These gemstones have the same chemistry essentially but are structured differently. They have various properties, differing hardness, and many can be cut and polished.

Serpentine is a stone that has a long and colorful history across the world. In Punjab, there are tales of the ‘sang-i-yashm,’ in English, the ‘false jade.’ This stone was used by generations as a material to create the handles of swords and daggers.

At almost the other end of the world appears the ‘tangiwai,’ a form of serpentine that the Maori tribe of New Zealand used to carve ornaments and talismans from.

Where is serpentine found?


Serpentine is mostly found in areas where oceanic plates converge with the Earth’s mantle. There are many portions of the planet that have serpentine deposits.

Serpentine gemstones are found in various countries across the world. You can find them in the USA, Canada, the UK, Italy, Austria, Norway, and Northern Ireland.

They’re also found in Asian countries, such as India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Myanmar, and China. In South America, you can find serpentine rocks in Brazil.

Serpentine rocks are present in the African countries of South Africa, The Congo, and Madagascar. You’ll also find serpentine stones in the islands of Greece, New Zealand, and Australia.

Types of Serpentine:

  • Antigorite: This is the main category of serpentine. It’s hard and compact and forms in corrugated plates of fibers. It gets its name from Antigorio Valley, Piedmont, Italy. This gem can be confused with jade. It’s usually green but can also be found in hues of yellow, gray, black, and brown. Bowenite and Williamsite are two varieties of antigorite that are commonly found in the gem market. 
  • Bowenite: Due to its hardness, this is the most common variety of serpentine stone that you’ll find in the jewelry market. It’s a variety of antigorite that can be colored from blue-green to light green and then to yellow. Bowenite was named after a student of materials from Rhode Island called G.T Bowen. This serpentine stone is translucent to semi-translucent. It adorns various items of decoration and ornaments, such as knife handles. 

    • Williamsite: This is also a variety of antigorite that is translucent or semi-transparent. This stone was named in honor of the man who first discovered it—19th-century mineral collector L.W.Williams. It’s a very pretty variety of serpentine and looks like it’s either jade or chrysoprase. It isn’t, but it is often used to simulate both. This gem can be polished to a dull luster. It frequently has black or dark octahedral chromite or magnetite specks in it.
    • Verd-Antique: This variety of serpentine stone contains attractive veins of calcite, dolomite, magnesite, and other minerals. These colorful veins displayed across its dark green body have made it a popular decorative stone throughout history.
    • Chrysotile: This variety of serpentine stone has a lusciously lime green color. It is most commonly used for industrial purposes, as it’s an important source of asbestos. It gets its name from the Greek words ‘chrysos’ (golden) and ‘tilos’ (fibrous). This variety isn’t used in jewelry; neither does it have metaphysical properties.
    • Lizardite: This variety was first found in Cornwall, England, upon the Lizard Peninsula (the stone’s namesake). It is used to decorate objects and as beads for jewelry.
    • Ricolite: This banded rock contains a mixture of serpentine minerals and talc. The mixture of serpentine minerals is named after Rico, in New Mexico.
    • Connemara Marble: While this is not exactly serpentine, Connemara marble contains a large amount of serpentine minerals. This calcite marble is green in color. You can find this beauty in Western Ireland. Historically, mining for Connemara marble is one of the country’s oldest trades. In fact, many even call this green gem Ireland’s ‘unofficial national stone.’ They even have a visitor’s center devoted to it! Connemara marble has been carved into beautiful, decorative items for many years. It was once used as a medium of exchange.

      The four Cs of Serpentine


      Color: Serpentine stones come in a variety of colors—mostly in different varieties of green. You will also find stones that come in varieties of white, yellow, gray, brown, and black. Some do have blue coloring as well. Most have some kind of inclusion, giving it a veined or spotty appearance. The color is usually spotted with black. You can see white veining or inclusions that have a moss-like appearance.

      Clarity: Serpentine tends to vary from semi-transparent to opaque. It’s very rarely translucent. This makes it a lovely gem that reflects the beauty of the wearer upon its emerald-tinted surface. It’s a lustrous stone. The shine can be described as waxy, resinous, and silky. Serpentine stones frequently include black specks of chromite or magnetite octahedra. 

      Cut: Serpentine is a soft stone with a Mohs hardness that ranges from 2.5 to 5. The hardest variety is Bowenite. It’s easy to cut. Williamsite is translucent enough to be faceted. It has a granular and uneven fracture. It is never found in crystal form and is usually flaky or found in masses of fibers. This stone is usually cut into beads, cabochons or carved into decorative objects or practical items. It’s commonly shaped into ovals and rounds. Most serpentine stones are cut with very high domes.

      Carat: Serpentine stones should not be bought according to carat weight. These stones vary in their size-to-weight ratio. Some stones can be larger and others smaller.


      How to take care of serpentine?


      Serpentine is very soft and scratches easily. It’s also slippery to touch. Be extra mindful of how you keep this gem.

      Serpentine is sensitive to sudden changes in temperature and strong chemicals such as acid and ultrasonic cleaners. To clean the serpentine, use warm water and a soft cloth.

      Handle serpentine stones as gently as possible. If you wear serpentine jewelry or accessories, always remove them before exercising, playing sports, or doing any household chore.

      Store it away from other jewelry. The best thing to do would be to wrap individual stones in a soft cloth and keep them inside a box with soft fabric lining it.

      Serpentine uses
      • Most varieties of serpentine are used for sculptures and jewelry.
      • While many types of serpentine stones are too soft to be made into jewelry, there are some varieties that can be fashioned into gorgeous earrings, pins, brooches, and pendants.
      • You shouldn’t craft serpentine into rings unless you intend to keep them in a well-protected environment. Serpentine rock scratches very easily.
      • But the serpentine gemstone has a silky luster that few other gemstones have. Due to this, many turn it into sought-after jewelry for both men and women.
      • Aside from jewelry, serpentine is excellent for carvings and ornaments.
      • Serpentine is also used as an alternative to jade.

      Serpentine meaning and it’s healing properties


      • The serpentine stone meaning is thought to mean serpent, referring to this family of minerals with green coloring.
      • For many centuries, serpentine has been used both as an ornament and as a healing stone.
      • In ancient times, it was thought that serpentine protects against evil sorcery and even diseases.
      • It was used as an offering to the gods for their protection and blessings. You could say serpentine’s meaning became synonymous with protection.
      • Physically, serpentine is thought to ease pains and ailments of the kidney, stomach, and stress-related illnesses.
      • Many craftspeople use serpentine rocks as a material for utensils and crockery to have healing properties for diabetic people.
      • In ancient times, serpentine was thought to be an antidote against poisonous snake-bites.
      Serpentine metaphysical properties and chakra connection


      “I am filled with fresh and healing energy.” – Self-affirmation mantra while meditating with serpentine.

      • The serpentine gemstone is linked to growing material wealth and attracting money.
      • People wear serpentine jewelry to achieve their ambitions. This stone helps them stimulate their careers.
      • The serpentine gemstone protects you from psychic attacks.
      • Serpentine is a strong meditation stone. It’s believed to have powers that guide its wearer towards inner peace.
      • Serpentine stimulates the crown chakra the most, although it can be used to cleanse other chakra blockages too.
      • Many use the serpentine rock to arouse their kundalini energy.

      Serpentine birthstone


      The serpentine gemstone resonates the most with Geminis. They can be worn as pendants so that they can stimulate your heart chakra. Those born under Gemini can wear serpentine to stimulate cell growth and to boost their energy levels.

      The light green serpentine can also help Geminis maintain a healthy heart and aid in calcium absorption.

      You can combine serpentine with many other stones to benefit even more. A few are jet, stichtite, Tibetan tektite, moldavite, or red jasper.


      Where should you buy serpentine?


      You should buy serpentine gems only from trusted sources. Many may try to sell you fake stones or inferior quality gemstones. A few precautions you could take is to select an outlet that has excellent customer reviews. Also, look for sellers who have a refund policy.

      If you’d like to reach out to an established retailer of precious and semi-precious gems, do contact us. We possess premium quality natural serpentine gemstones in a variety of cuts and colors.