Cinnabar is a beautiful red mineral that just happens to be one of the only important ores of mercury. It’s bold red color has inspired people to use it as pigments for paint and also carvings into jewelry for thousands of years.

People still use it as jewelry and I always educate clients who wish to purchase a piece of Cinnabar jewelry from me about it’s toxicity.

Cinnabar pendant with handknotted hemp by my friend Joanna Ballard. Available. Message me for more info

Cinnabar is a mercury sulfide which means this mineral is made up of mercury and sulfur. In many cases with jewelry, pure cinnabar is not used. According to Ross-Simmons, Cinnabar jewelry is really wood that been stained with cinnabar pigment and sealed under several layers of lacquer.

Even though that style is safe, I always recommend that you never wear cinnabar next to your skin. If it’s a bracelet, make sure the metal it is set in is completely separating skin contact from the mineral. Pendants over your clothing. etc.

If you are just getting started with lapidary, I am sure your instructor will educate you about toxic  minerals, but always wear a mask and gloves when handling pure cinnabar. Breathing in the dust could be fatal. For those of you who like to make a gem elixir, please do not use cinnabar at all. Even when using the indirect method. Better safe than sorry.

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About the Author


Johnna Sabri is a mineral, gem and crystal collector and wire artist. She loves experimenting with different styles of wrapping and collecting gems and minerals. Her work has been modeled by GA State University students in one of their annual fashion shows.

Johnna has also served customers all around the world including Dubai, Finland, The Philippines, Australia, Canada, the UK, China, and Hong Kong as well as people in every US state.

She learned her craft from Grammy winning guitarist, Daryl Adonis Thompson, son of Eli “Lucky” Thompson, the saxophonist who played with Dizzy Gillespie and Isaac Hayes. Daryl was well known in the Little 5 Points Atlanta community as a master at his craft. Read more on Johnna here