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Hemimorphite is a zinc-containing silicate, which is one of the most important source ores for the metal. The mineral is named in reference to its unusual crystals, which are pointed at one end and somewhat flat at the other. However, most hemimorphite gemstones tend to be fashioned from its bright neon-blue microcrystalline masses into polished cabochons, beads and other rounded forms.

Hemimorphite was previously the rarer of two similar zinc-containing minerals known collectively as “calamine”. However, the British chemist and mineralogist James Smithson was able to differentiate them in 1803, and they later came to be known as hemimorphite and smithsonite. These two materials are still difficult to differentiate from each other visually, but the former is significantly less dense and will generate a pyroelectric voltage when heated.

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