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Fluorite is considered to be one of most popular minerals in the world among gem and mineral collectors, second only to quartz. It is often referred to as 'the most colorful mineral in the world' owing to its variety of brilliant colors. Fluorite was first described in 1530 and was originally referred to as 'fluorspar'. The mineral was strongly noted for its effectiveness as a flux for aluminum and steel processing. Today, the term 'fluorspar' is primarily used for the industrial and chemical form of fluorite, while 'fluorite' is the term used in reference to the gem and mineral.
Fluorite Fluorescence In 1852, the phenomenon of 'fluorescence' was named after fluorite, since it was one of the first fluorescent minerals studied. The element fluorine was also named after fluorite. Fluorine is an essential element in the chemical ion of fluoride. Fluorite is frequently fluorescent under ultraviolet UV light. The fluorescence is thought to be due to impurities of yttrium or other types of organic matter within the crystal lattice. The color of visible light emitted when a sample of fluorite is fluorescing appears to be highly dependent on where the specimen was collected. Fluorescent colors of fluorite are extremely variable, but the typical color is blue; other fluorescent colors include yellow, green, red, white and purple. Some specimens have the added effect of simultaneously exhibiting different colors under long and short wave UV light.
Fluorite Crystal Habits Fluorite has several different crystal habits that always produce well-formed clean crystals. The cube is the most recognized habit of fluorite, followed secondly by the octahedron. The octahedral crystal is believed to form at higher temperatures than the cube. Fluorite has perfect octahedral cleavage which means that when cleaved, it can produce a perfect octahedron or diamond shape. Cleaved octahedrons are popular in rock shops all over the world, while natural uncleaved octahedrons are much harder to find.