Red Muscovite (also known as Red Mica or Isinglass) exhibits a vibrant, shimmering color in hues ranging from red to brown and violet. The name Muscovite is derived from “Moscow-glass”, because of its use in medieval Russia as a cheap window material. Mica name comes from the Latin “micare,” which means “to shine or glitter.” Mica had been mined by ancient Hindus as early as 2000 BC, and valued by them as an ornament or glass replacement. Cherokee Indians also used it for graves ornaments and as trading currency, distributing it over a large North American area.
Crystals and plates of muscovite are usually found in metamorphic rocks, particularly in gneisses and schists. Granites, fine grained sediments, and siliceous rocks are also a source of mica.
A silicate mineral containing potassium and aluminum, mica is one of the most common minerals found on earth. This material is able to form thin, transparent, yet durable sheets/plates due to its perfect cleavage. Having a low iron content, Muscovite is an ideal electrical and thermal insulator. It has a hardness of 2-2.5 on Mohs scale, a pearly lustre and an elastic tenacity factor. It is possible to split all micas into optically flat films because they all form six-sided crystals with cleavage parallel to the direction of the large surfaces. Microcrystals of mica often form inside other stones and give them a glistening appearance.
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Mica crystals were believed to contain lightning flashes in ancient Hindu culture.
Sisiutl was a two-headed sea serpent in Kwakiutl culture on the Pacific coast of North America. The shiny mica found on beaches were thought to be the scales shed from the serpent’s body.