Coming from the Greek enstates meaning « opponent », enstatite stone, first described in 1855 by Gustav Adolf Kenngott, a German mineralogist, takes its name from its infusibility (its resistance to the action of fire), a name recognized by the IMA (International Mineralogical Association). Already known in Antiquity, it has been discovered on archaeological sites, in particular in the form of sculptures of Egyptian scarabs. Although it is recognized as having an ancestral use, dating from the Greeks and Romans, these facts have never been supported by scientific or historical documents that can confirm it.
Described for the first time by the German chemist, apothecary and mineralogist Martin Heinrich Klaproth, another variety of the same family, called bronzite, owes its name to its bronze-like colour. The chemist’s detailed article, which appeared in 1807 in the Gehlens Journal (New General Journal of Chemistry, distributed in Germany) was later taken up and translated into French, in the December No. 132 of the same year in the Journal des Mines. Although this name is often used, it has never been recognized by the IMA. The term would be used to designate in fact a variety that is halfway between enstatite and another species of the same family, called hypersthene.
Often described as a partially altered ferrous enstatite variety due to a difference in chemical reaction during its formation, it is distinguished from others by its metallic, bronze-like appearance, whose colours range from green to brown, chestnut brown, gold, brass, speckled dark brown to almost black. Its metallic lustre can sometimes be silk-like or with a glass-like sheen. Enstatite’s colour can be opaque or translucent and ranges from white to grey, including all colours close to greenish-white, olive green, yellowish green or brown.
These two minerals sometimes give a glimpse of a star-shaped luminous reflection, also called asterism. This particular reflection with 6 branches for the one and 4 branches for the other also makes it possible to distinguish them from each other. Both minerals belong to the (ortho)pyroxene family and are magnesium silicates, which differ in their iron content, among other things. Enstatite stone would contain between 0 and 10% of it, bronzite between 10 and 30 %, while hypersthene would be composed of 30 to 50%. A large number of deposits can still be found today throughout the world, particularly under the earth’s crust at the mantle level, notably in Argentina, Canada, the USA, Europe, Asia, in some regions of the African continent such as South Africa, Madagascar or Tanzania, in Australia and New Zealand and as far as the Antarctic continent. A few samples of enstatite have even been found on the Moon, notably at the landing site of the Apollo 15 mission, and on certain so-called stony meteorites, such as chondrites and achondrites. In January 2004, a probe launched by NASA in 1999 during the Stardust mission collected similar samples by flying over the coma of the comet Wild2.
As the main component of asteroids found towards the interior of the asteroid belt between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter, this mineral is one of the few that can be observed on planets, stars and other celestial bodies outside our solar system. In particular, it has been observed around evolved stars and planetary nebulae such as NGC 6302, in the constellation of Scorpio, also called the Insect Nebula or Butterfly Nebula because of its complex shape.
Belonging to the silicate group and the inosilicate subgroup, enstatite is a member of the pyroxene family. It also shows traces of Fe, Co, Cr, Ca, Al, Mn, Ni, Ti, K and Na and its crystals can reach up to 40 cm. Its polymorphic condition allows it to exist in 3 different forms. Protoenstatite is a low temperature and high pressure polymorph which exists only for the magnesian pole, clinoenstatite and clinoferrosilite, which are monoclinic low temperature polymorphs. These monoclinic polymorphs exist in two opposite forms, high-temperature, high-clinoenstatite and high-clinoferrosilite, and low-temperature, low-clinoenstatite and low-clinoferrosilite*. Combined with ferrosilite, it forms a complete solid solution and its intermediate composition, also called hypersthene, is more commonly known as orthopyroxene. Together, it also forms what is known as an isomorphic series, with enstatite being the magnesian pole of the series and ferrosilite the ferrous pole.
Orthopyroxene crystals are also found in plutonic rocks, such as gabbros and diorite, and are the basic constituent of various types of rock, known as igneous or metamorphic rocks such as granulite. Identifiable in certain metamorphosed serpentines, they can then form phenocrystals, crystals visible to the naked eye, in volcanic rocks such as basalt, andesite or dacite. Enstatite stone, qis one of the main constituents of pyroxenites and peridotites in the mantle (the intermediate layer between the earth’s core and crust) and is formed during chemical reactions characteristic of such pressure and temperature conditions. A common mineral in some celestial bodies, whether or not belonging to our solar system, crystals have been observed in primitive meteorites, called chondrites, in the form of small spherical masses, chondrules, as well as in some other forms of differentiated meteorites such as achondrites.
Clinoenstatite or hypersthene, a greenish-brown variety, stands out from the others by its density of up to 3.5 and a refractive index of up to 1.74 where that of enstatite does not exceed 1.68. Deposits can be found in many countries, such as France at Moun Caou in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Prades in Ariège, but also in Burma, Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya, the United States, Mexico, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Canada.
An anchor stone, it helps to keep one’s feet on the ground and closest to the Here-and-Now, breathing calm and serenity into those who possess it. By bringing self-control, it helps to calm anger and nervous episodes. Of great use to impatient or nervous people, it helps to regain one’s calm in order to think with more discernment and respond more wisely to the problems we face in daily life. Not only does it encourage an open heart, it also facilitates friendly relationships and balances conflict situations by inviting compassion, forgiveness and respect for others, while helping to understand and express one’s own feelings and emotions. It can therefore be a great help for people who are obliged to live in a community or close to a group of people in conflict.
In addition, it helps to develop self-confidence, courage and determination and invites people to surpass themselves and to regain control over the actions that define our lives. Revitalizing, it also allows us to recharge our batteries with positive energy and to detach ourselves from what is negative.
In lithotherapy, this crystal would have, depending on its colour, beneficial properties on different parts of our body. The light brown one would favour a good digestive action and would relieve gastric problems, while darker coloured crystals would be a great help against foot cramps.
In addition to promoting intestinal comfort, this stone is also known to soothe menstrual problems such as PMS (premenstrual syndrome) or other physical and emotional symptoms that occur during the menstrual cycle. It would then be of great benefit to all women suffering from more or less significant disorders during this period.