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Cinnabar is the chief mineral composed of the element mercury, and is a very important ore mineral. Though most Cinnabar is massive and uninteresting in habit, several localities produce phenomenal and strikingly colored red crystals that stand out with beautiful contrast on top of a white matrix.

Cinnabar is occasionally associated with Native Mercury, in the form of small metallic blobs perched on top or within cavities of the Cinnabar. Since Cinnabar is composed from mercury which has various health hazards, it is recommended to wash hands after handling Cinnabar specimens.

Chemical Formula HgS
Composition Mercury sulfide
Color Bright red, violet-red, scarlet-red, brownish-red, and dark metallic-red.
Streak Red
Hardness 2 – 2.5
Crystal System Hexagonal
3D Crystal Atlas
(Click for animated model) 
Crystal Forms
and Aggregates
Crystals are usually in thick tabular form with modified faces. Crystals are often integrown or twinned in penetration twins. Also as elongated rhombohedrons, in six-pointed star-shaped twins, and in complex crystal forms. Also massive, granular, in veins, in small ball-shaped aggregates, encrusting, and globular. Crystals are often striated.
Transparency Transparent to opaque
Specific Gravity 8.0 – 8.1
Luster Adamantine, submetallic, dull
Cleavage 1,3
Fracture Uneven
Tenacity Brittle to slightly sectile
Other ID Marks Cinnabar crystals are birefringent, though transparent crystals are often too small or embedded in a matrix for this property to be properly observed.
In Group Sulfides; Simple Sulfides
Striking Features Color, heaviness, and low hardness.
Environment In volcanic, mercury-rich deposits usually associated with hot springs. Also in epithermal veins.
Rock Type Igneous, Metamorphic
Popularity (1-4) 2
Prevalence (1-3) 3
Demand (1-3) 1


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