MinEmeralds Library


Parisite History and Etymology

After the process of independence in Colombia and the Battle of Boyaca on August 7, 1819, the formation of a new government was initiated, and a few years later the Emerald mines of Muzo were reopened, as they were closed by order of the Spanish crown, its exploitation was privatized in 1924 under a first agreement and then in 1828 José Paris kept the mines exploitation and settled an agreement of 5% estate share; this agreement was extended until 1848.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Lavinio de Medici Spada was born in Italy in 1801 who later became an official Vatican and vast scholar, mineralogist, naturalist, and poet, Prefect of Arms for both popes, Gregory XVI and Pius IX. The story of JJ Paris and Spada, crossed in favor of the parisite, when in 1845 Paris sent Spada a set of minerals from the mines of Muzo. In this group of minerals Spada discovered calcium fluoride and the cerium trigonal crystal system, mineral that ultimately ended up being called parisite (Ce), referring to the miner JJ Paris.


The parisite, since its discovery in the mines of Muzo, has been closely related to the exploitation of emeralds. Colombian parisite specimens are still found in hydrothermal deposits of emeralds, where they are collected as secondary minerals within the main exploitation process.

Parisite Characteristics and Properties

Mineral Type Group V Carbonates (Nitrates)
Brown, brownish yellow, grayish yellow, yellow
4.5 Mohs
Specific Gravity
4.33 - 4.42
Splintery, Sub-Conchoidal
Crystal System
Doubly-terminated pyramidal crystals
Chemical Formula
Optical Properties
Uniaxial (+)
Transparent to translucent
Vitreous to resinous
Refractive Index
1.671 – 1.772
0.081 – 0.101
Weak; O = pale yellow; E = golden yellow

Parisite False Names

The most crystalline specimens of the parisite can be confused with brown varieties of sphalerite, cassiterite, sinhalite, synchysite-(Ce), and vesuvianite.


It is a collectors mineral for its rarity, and the specimens associated with emeralds on albite or calcite formations are highly appreciated as those with a well-formed crystal habit, and normally within the mining process are very difficult to find. The parisite can also be cut when presented in translucent crystals but its hardness is low and therefore it is not frequently seen in jewelry pieces.

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