Hematite is a mineral with a composed of iron oxide, incorporating a hexagonal crystal system. Its name comes from the Greek word for blood; this may its color when found in powdered form, or the fact that there are sometimes red-rust streaks or spots that can be seen in it. Most Hematite you will see has what may be called a metallic gray color, as it has been highly polished. Yet 'metallic gray' hardly describes the luminous appearance of this stone. It is like a mirror or a silvery dark lake, mercurial; this is one of my all-time favorite stones. There are several varieties; these include bloodstone, kidney ore, iron rose, specularite, rainbow hematite, titano-hematite, and paint ore. It is harder than raw iron, though more brittle, and is sometimes referred to as a black diamond. Interestingly, even though the polished stone is metallic and shiny, if you were to cut it into very thin plates, it would appear red and transparent. Watch out for a very common imitation (often this is all you can find!) -- hematine. Hematine is a synthetic form and is a lower cost, but it is not authentic. It is made from ground hematite or artificial iron oxide powder, then mixed with resin and molded into beads. To determine the 'real thing', you can streak the mineral on the back of a porcelain tile or porcelain plate. Hematite will streak red (if it is the fake stuff, it will streak gray). You can also test it with a magnet. Hematite is not attracted to a magnet and the Hematine sort of fake is attracted. There is one reason you might want to use the imitation -- the magnetized Hematine can be used in magnetic therapy jewelry (read more about this fascinating subject at: http://www.dandbjewelryonline.com/.
For those who subscribe to the notion that there are spiritual aspects to beads, Hematite is thought to be among the most effective stones for grounding oneself in the body and the physical world, counteracting 'spaciness' and confusion. Many carry or wear Hematite to help bring their dreams into reality, by helping them learn the difference between a true vision and a fantasy. The stone harmonizes with other grounding stones (like Moss Agate or Smoky Quartz), as well as Herkimer Quartz 'Diamonds', another one of my all-time favorites (more on that later).
Hematite beads look great with swarovski crystal or fire-polished beads. The example shown here is one I found on Etsy.com (from 'Moonlight Symphony'). Lovely!