Staurolite is also known as fairy stones, fairy crosses, fairy tears, cross stone, or baseler taufstein, which translates to baptismal stone. This name was given to the stone because of its use in baptisms in the area of Basel, Switzerland. The name staurolite derives from the Greek words stauros and lithos, or cross stone. This name comes from the fact that staurolite naturally occurs in a cross shape. For centuries, the stone has been prized as a good luck talisman, used in religious jewelry, carved into cameos, and worn as amulets. Today, many staurolite stones are the market are really other stones, carved into this famous cross-like shape. Staurolite can sometimes be mistaken for chiastolite, but its distinguishing property is its ability to scratch glass. Opaque specimen are used in jewelry more than the transparent stones, which are much more rare and usually cut only for collectors.
There are many legends about staurolite. In Brittany, staurolite was said to have fallen from the sky. In North America, the legend says that staurolite stones were the tears of the Cherokee tribe of Native North Americans, who, in the 1800’s, were following the trail of tears to reservations after they were forced to leave their ancestral lands. But the most widely known legend says that staurolite was formed from the tears the fairies shed when they heard the news of Christ’s death. The fairies’ tears crystallized to form the shape of a cross. These fairies lived in the Fairy Stone State Park in Patrick County Virginia. At least three presidents of the United States carried staurolite with them as good luck charms. Presidents Wilson and Harding carried them, and President Roosevelt wore one mounted as a watch charm.
Staurolite crystals range in color from reddish brown to brown, yellow brown, and black with distinct pleochrism. Staurolite rates a 7 to 7.5 on the hardness scale. It has a vitreous to resinous luster, and can be translucent to nearly opaque. It is usually given a step or baguette cut. Staurolite can be found in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, as well as in North Carolina, which is a major source of the gem. It can also be found in various locations around Brazil, England, France, Switzerland, Germany, the former USSR, Scotland, and the Middle East. Staurolite typically occurs in medium-grade schists and gneisses, often in association with garnet, kyanite and mica.
Staurolite is said to be particularly helpful in relieving stress, as it stops the wearer from overworking himself. The stone is also used to help those who suffer from depression and addictions. It is often used to help those who are trying to stop smoking, as it helps the wearer understand the reasons why he might be addicted to nicotine. With this understanding, the wearer becomes more grounded, and therefore more able to quit. Throughout history, staurolite has been used in white magic ceremonies, as it was thought to strengthen the power of rituals. It is also thought to be able to access the ancient wisdom of the Middle East. Staurolite has always been carried around to protect the wearer against disease, accidents, and overall negativity. Physically, staurolite is used to treat fevers, as well as cellular disorders and growth.