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                           Mineral of the Month--November


                                        Elemental Bismuth


                                         Bismuth: On Growing A Crystal Wonder

                                     By Ken Casey



     On today’s excursion, we can set down our hard hats, and relax.  We are in for a special
treat.  Our trip today will take us into the world of growing Bismuth crystals!  Grab your
passports, though, as we are flying into western Canada to visit a special lab.  We will also
cover some normal and more exotic uses for this metallic element.  Before that, though, we
must study-up first on the geology, chemistry, science, and uses of Element 83, “Bismuth”.



    What is “bismuth”, you might ask.  Well, to begin with, it is a common element, found in
nature.  To us, it can be a marvelous, unpublicized miracle of nature and science, as you will
see.  Some collect Bismuth compounds formed in nature, whereas, others create unique
crystals in their own home labs.  Some even make jewelry from the peacock-colored “gems”.

     We will be interviewing such a hobbyist.  His name is Ken Keraiff, and he resides in
British Columbia, Canada. 

anilightbulb.gif (3266 bytes)      From aerospace and medicine to sporting goods and jewelry, we will visit the many uses of this heavy metal, which can improve our lives in more ways than inventor of the tungsten-filament light bulb, Thomas Edison, could have envisioned!

(Animated Tungsten-filament light bulb, Ken Casey ©2005)

     We will start with nature and science (mineralogy), and expand into everyday and futuristic
applications for our shiny friend.  As always, we cover lapidary and jewelry uses.



What’s In a Name?



alchemist_symbol_bismuth.GIF (1139 bytes)  

Bimuto (Italian, Portuguese, Spanish); Vismut (Swedish); Bismut (Czech)

(Left: Alchemist symbol for Bismuth)


    Today’s name of Element 83 is “Bismuth”.  It derives from several steps in the understanding
of its identity and form.  First called “weisse masse” (white mass) by German miners, in
common usage it elided to “wismat”.  Alchemists formalized it as “Bismat”, as Latin language
conventions prompted a substitution of a “W” for the “B”.[i]

     Modern German scholars colloquialized it as “Wismuth”.   From the German and Latin
derivations (“Bisemutum”), the Anglicized version is “Bismuth”.[ii]

     Bismuth, “…in allusion to its brittle nature, affirmed it to be a "bastard" or "half-metal". The
first clear description of Bismuth as a separate metal is from Georgius Agricola (1494-1555).”[iii]

     The ‘white mass’ was virtually indistinguishable from other white metals, such as lead and
tin, until Claude Geoffroy the Younger isolated it in 1753.[iv]

     Now it holds a unique identity to modern science.


dms_bismuth2.jpg (3055677 bytes) dms_bismuth3.jpg (2654991 bytes) dms_bismuth4.jpg (2872662 bytes)
Close-up Bismuth xtal, Angle #1 Bismuth xtal, Angle #2
Crystals grown by Ken Keraiff
Photos by Ken Casey ©2005


Chemistry & Science

     As an element, Bismuth is trivalent, and chemically unstable.  This quality of potential
bonding readiness causes this metal to draw with other nearby anions, such as Oxygen (O2),
to from bismuth oxide (BiO2).  Thus, the natural state of bismuth can display (from its
oxidized surface) a pleasing “peacock ore” color effect.  It is also one of the appealing
characteristics that lure collectors.

     Visually, it is difficult to identify bismuth from other white metals, such as tin, lead, and
arsenic, as these usually occur together in nature.  Chemically, it resembles both arsenic
and antimony. 

     Bismuth’s neighbors on the Periodic Table of Elements are: Lead and Polonium.  As a
chemistry student would learn that Lead is the final stage of atomic decay (measured by it’s
half-life), from other radioactive elements, so scientists suspected that Bismuth had some
radioactive properties.  In 2003, researchers at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale have
determined that one of this heavy metal isotopes (Bi-209) has measurable alpha particle
emission over billions of years.  The super-long half-life guided the scientists to suggest that
Bismuth is a relatively (atomically) stable element.   Thus, it is safe for metallurgy and
common uses.[v]

     Bismuth bonds with many other elements, including organic compounds.

     Bismuth oxychloride (cosmetics), Bismuth subnitrate (glazes, medicine), Bismuth
fluoride, and Bismuth salicyclate (anti-diahrreal), Bimanol (BiMn, supermagnets) are just a
few.  In fact, even a simple compound can yield astounding use potential.  One local source
on data of many of these compounds is MV Laboratories, Inc. of Frenchtown, New Jersey.

     Elementally, Bismuth has the strongest of all elements a property, called the Hall Effect,
which refers to its electrical conductivity potential.

     Combinations of these, when melted and forged together, become alloys.  Two known
uses are as Lipwitz’s alloy and Woods metal (both made of Bismuth, lead, tin, cadmium),
the latter being used in building fire protection sprinkler heads.[vi]

     We will see later some of the advanced uses of this native metal.


Geology, Occurrences & Mining


     Here are some pictures of naturally occurring Bismuth found at:
Glendale Community College’s Earth Science Image Archive.




    According to Dr. Ken Rubin, Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology and
Geophysics, University of Hawaii, Bismuth proliferates in volcanism.     

     Bismuth forms mainly into hydrothermal deposits after having been dissolved in magmatic
groundwater.  It then lies into matrix rock cracks.  Its highly charged or massive ions group
with other nearby metals to form an associated complex.   That is why we find it along with
Stibnite (Sb2S3) and sulfur minerals as Bismuthite (Bi2S3).    Other chalcophiles occurs as
well, such as Lead, Copper, Zinc, and Mercury. 

     The grander scale tectonic activity of plate subduction zone volcanoes generally holds the
bulk of Earth’s Bismuth.  It has been discovered as a constituent in volcanic outgassing.  We
know, because:

     “Bismuth shares geochemical affinities with other heavy main group elements in
group 5 (Sb, As), as well as the group 4 elements Sn and Pb. Its halogenated
compounds are fairly volatile (as are halogenated compounds of Pb and Po) and it
is released fairly effectively to the gas phase during volcanic eruptions (with an
efficiency of degassing of about 20%). It has a number of short-lived radioactive
isotopes that occur naturally due to the decay of naturally-occuring U. One such
isotope, 210Bi, has been used to examine processes occuring in volcanic aerosols,
along with 210Po and 210Pb.”[vii]




     Bismuth can occurs in many environments.  Either in hydrothermal veins and replacement
deposits associated with other metals, or with quartz and cassiterite in granite pegmatites, this
heavy metal appears globally.  Iron and Tellurium are common impurities.

     As a component of the usually mined heavy metal complex, including Acanthite (Ag2S), this
trigonal mineral is unusually associated with
Erythrite, or Co3(AsO4)2·8H2O.   According to the
Bismuth data page at, there are 697 world locales in the database to date. 

     “Notable Natural Occurrences include Australia; San Baldomero and La Paz, Bolivia; Devon,
England; Germany and South Dakota, Colorado and California, USA.”[viii]


Locales & Mines


     Traditionally, Bismuth was not the major product desired mining operations.  As a lowly
by-product, its use was overshadowed by the more profitable gold and silver, with which it is
normally associated.  A veritable foundry paradise, however, awaited those who could find uses
for the various other metals found within these ore bodies.    Lead bears the closest periodic
relationship to Bismuth by general deposition geologically.

     Copper, lead, zinc, cobalt, nickel, tin, uranium, and arsenic were among its more common
fellow gangue-mates, until modern times. 

     Two major ores are: Bismite (Bi2O3) and Bismuthinite (Bi2S3).

     Native or oxidized iridescent hopper crystals are extremely rare in nature.  The best are
grown from 99.99% nearly pure metal.

     Earth is not the only known planetary body in our solar system with measurable amounts
of Bismuth.  The weather on the planet Venus exhibits heavy metal rain.  NASA’s 1989 Magellan
probe data has borne out this “Bismuth cycle”, as this author terms it.  Dr. Raymond E. Ardvison
and his fellow researchers discovered this anomaly in 1995.   Laura Schaefer, research assistant
in the Planetary Chemistry Laboratory at Washington University, St. Louis, adds that, “When we
looked at the chemistry, we found the best candidates were actually lead and bismuth sulfides.”[ix]

     Who knows, perhaps our grandchildren will use giant mining bucket scoops to collect 'Bismuth
rain' from Venus’ atmosphere for a slingshot trip back to Earth!

dms_bismuth5.jpg (2972362 bytes)

Lab-grown Bismuth Crystal by Ken Keraiff
Photo by Ken Casey ©2005



     As uses for Bismuth determine its worth, Bismuth geology underlies the location of its mines.  Discovered in economic quantities on six continents, today’s active mining brings us affordable
material for all of industry’s projects.

     Modern supplies derive from Peru, Mexico, China, United States, Bolivia, Canada, and
Australia.  As a metal, a secondary scrap recycling market thrives around the world, so less is
wasted.  Two such examples I found are: Recycler’s World and

     Most mines were not historically, primarily Bismuth-oriented until other precious, or more
profitable, metals are mined out.  Modern smelting techniques can bring all metals out for
consumption, so Bismuth has become a moneymaker.  One primary Bismuth mine at Tasna,
Bolivia, shut down in 1984, due to playing out of the deposit.[x]

     “In Bolivia, Corriente Resources Inc. of Vancouver owns the former primary bismuth mine at
Tasna.  Bolivia has not reported bismuth production since 1990.  With the growing potential for
increased bismuth consumption through new uses, the mine, which shut in 1984, has been
reassessed. Sufficient reserves have been established for a mine life of about 11 years at an
operating rate of 300 t/d.  The grade was reported in early 1996 as 1.1% bismuth, 1.05% copper,
0.38% tungsten trioxide, 0.33 g/t gold, and 22.8 g/t silver. The tin reserves are not included in
initial mining plans.”[xi]

     ASARCO Incorporated’s Omaha, Nebraska plant is the sole domestic primary producer.[xii] 
And, Moina, Tasmania, Australia has a tin-tungsten-bismuth mine.[xiii]

     Mining safety is all important, especially in the U. S.  Our government agencies, including
the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has information on all related topics. 




    Though there are a few producers of Bismuth, Sidech, S. A. of Belgium is the world’s leading
supplier of bismuth metal.  It produces about 2,000 tons annually.  The current market price for
the commodity is about $4.45/pound. 

     “Quite interestingly for a heavy metal, bismuth is scientifically recognized as one of the safest
element[s]. It is also non-carcinogenic. Accordingly, a growing number of industrial applications
depend upon it to alleviate specific toxicity or environmental problems.

     For over 150 years Bi compounds have been shooting all sort of stomach aliments from minor
aches to ulcers. Modern medical science has proven it to be the most effective ingredient in the
eradiction of helicobacter pylori, the bacteria responsible for causing peptic ulcers.

     Environmental concerns and lead-in-air laws have made non-toxic bismuth a useful replacement
for lead in a growing number of applications such as free-lead cutting steel and aluminium alloys,
brass, ceramics and crystal glass, hunting cartdridges, yellow pigments, gold assaying, bowling
balls, lubricants, zinc galvanization etc.”[xiv]




     Due to its remarkable properties, Bismuth can both uniquely act as a constituent in useful
chemical formulae, and substitute for other elements in form and function, as well, like Lead (Pb).

     The short list covers:

  • Medicines, like Pepto-Bismol
  • Replaces Lead in Shotgun shells as to not contaminate groundwater
  • Metallurgy & Alloys (like SeBiLOY®)
  • Rocket fuel
  • Solder
  • Acrylic fiber-making catalyst
  • Lubricants
  • Sub for Lead in  fishing sinkers
  • Superconductors
  • Permanent Magnet  (MnBi)
  • Fire detection and extinguishing systems
  • Thermocouples


     More exotic uses are: rocket fuel, super- and semiconductors, ceramic glazes, a modern
alchemist’s transmutant into gold (Laurence Livermore Labs, 1980).  The latter is a feat to which
alchemist Sir Isaac Newton would have given great laud!


Pharmaceuticals & Cosmetics


     Some ancient cultures used bismuth powders.  “A variety of metallic preparations have been
used by the ladies of different countries for this purpose, particularly the oxyds of bismuth and
antimony. Among the Medes it was not confined to the fair sex; at least Xenophon, in his
Cyropædia, describes Astyages as having his eyes painted. The custom still prevails in the

     As cited in the poem “The Veils; Or the Triumph of Constancy” by British author Eleanor
Anne Porden Franklin (1795-1825), the reference on page of “Carinthia’s ores” alludes to the
substance.  Though this example is from literature, the written art can usually be based upon

     Victorians could purchase over-the-counter powders of bismuth about 100 plus years ago for
aid in digestion, much like today’s products: Kaopectate and Pepto-Bismol.  Both of these
modern remedies contain Bismuth salicyclate, deemed safe to take by our national authority,
Food & Drug Administration (FDA).


pepto_linkliq_prod.jpg (10166 bytes) prod_kaopectate_Pepp_lg.jpg (5037 bytes)

Image courtesy of Proctor & Gamble


Image courtesy of Pfizer

     After you return your bottle to the medicine cabinet, you could learn that the new brass
faucet on your bathroom sink could be made from a Bismuth Alloy (SeBiLOY®).  The stalwart
Copper Development Association, Inc. (CDA) brings you this good news, as you will no longer
have any toxic Lead in your brass.


Sporting Goods


    Volvik manufacturers their patented “Bismuth” golf balls with a tri-metal core.   The patented
dual core consists of a power core for maximum distance and a bismuth mixed soft control layer
for feel and spin and a soft touch cover provide the most satisfying distance and feeling.

     Environmental concerns have spurred on the replacement of Bismuth for Lead in shotgun
pellets and fishing sinkers, as Bismuth is deemed today as generally non-toxic.  Future science
will tell; though, the act to reduce Lead-pollution is a step in right direction for conservation’s sake. 
It is the popular belief among scientists.


Rocket Fuel and More


     Both NASA and Russia’s Central Scientific Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash) are
researching Bismuth as a propellant in rockets to drive spacecraft, and more.  The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) scientists are also devising better materials and equipment for spacecraft sensors.  Bismuth Titanate is being experimented with in piezoelectric actuators and sensors to withstand
the Venusian atmosphere.  And Bismanol (BiMn) can act in supermaget capacity. 


Home Science Experiments  (Home Use)


     Many of us have heard used the colloquial expression, “Kids, don’t try this at home.”  This is
with good reason.  I will mention a couple to try; but, please, do so with the utmost safety, and
kids, do so with adult supervision.  Be it a home, school, or work lab, use care and the latest
safety equipment, such as safety goggles.

     With that caution mentioned, our plane will be landing soon, so put your tray tables in the
upright position!

     Ken Keraiff has placed online his homemade experiment for magnetic levitation.  Perhaps he
will be kind enough to give a demonstartion for us.  He also links to another experiment of prolific
purveyor of home science, Mr. Field.

     Simon Quellen Field has published on his scitoys website some bismuth magnetism experiments.  These can be performed with some household items, and some bismuth metal.

     There are probably a great many other trials with Bismuth published.  I hope these inspire you
to learn more.



Crystal Growing

crystalmasterpg2.gif (213884 bytes)      If you want to grow, say, Bismuth germanium oxide crystals employing the Czochralski technique, you could purchase a Crystalmaster Group 7000 crystal grower from a company called Thermal Technology, Inc.

     If you are interested in some of the recent U. S. Patent Office inventions, check out United States Patent #5357898.  The abstract describes both the process and the apparatus required to make improved “Bi-substituted garnet single crystals suitable for magneto-optical devices…”, and such, which may
or may not be used with lasers.

     For this article, we will concentrate on the proliferation of astounding 99.99% pure Bismuth
metal  “hopper” crystals.  Collectors in both thumbnail and tabletop sizes enjoy this favored
form.  Ken Keraiff enjoys holding his periodic “Guess the Weight” Contest to encourage the
enjoyment of sharing the realm of Bismuth with folks all over. 


2.JPG (31032 bytes) 5.JPG (48830 bytes) 7.JPG (36794 bytes)
Golden Bismuth Crystal Tower Bismuth Crystal Radiating Bismuth Crystals
Photos by and courtesy of Ken Keraiff, Krystals Unlimited ©2005

     There is a science and an art to creating one's own crystals.   The more you know, the better. 
But, sometimes, happy accidents occur, and you make novel discoveries!    

     One aficionado, Theodore Gray, writes on this metal’s aspects as relates to crystal formation
size outcomes: ”Hopper crystals develop because their outer edges grow more quickly than their
faces (Skerlec).”[xvii] 

      Relatively larger crystals may be obtained by slowing the cooling process during formation. 
You may wish to learn other features of the process by visiting Theodore Gray’s webpage article:
“It’s None of Your Bismuth: The Effects of Thermal Conductivity on Bismuth Crystal size”.

     Udo J. A. Behner of Germany grows and sells superb Bismuth crystals.  He offers many facts
about this Element 83, sells other types of crystal-growing kits, and offers recipes for other sugar
crystals and more.   He will ship to the U. S. and Australia from Europe.  You may reach him at:

O19-146.JPG (57536 bytes)      If you would like a great North American source, Ken Keraiff of Krystals Unlimited in the province of British Columbia offers his own labgrown Bismuth gems of astoundingly different crystal habits and colorations.  Ken will easily ship to the U. S.  He has supplied our club with a specimen from which our members and guests might learn.


(Multi-hued Bismuth crystal, lab-grown by Ken Keraiff)

     The geosphere of planet Earth is not the only environment in which Bismuth crystals may be
artificially grown.  The microgravity of space encapsulated within the near Earth orbiting Space
Shuttle’s mission STS-87 (1997), used the MEPHISTO oven to study Bismuth’s interaction with
Tin.  The joint U. S.-French study will have produced flat-faced bismuth-tin alloy crystals for use in semiconductors.

     “In this experiment, rods of pure bismuth and bismuth with very small additions of tin are
inserted in a furnace and will be heated and then cooled to study the formation of flat faced

     This experiment will yield a large amount of information concerning growth rate, interface
shape and interface supercooling. Such information will be used to understand the relationship
between the generation of imperfections and the redistribution of the chemical elements in the
crystal. Both of these things affect the quality of crystals and the performance of electronic
devices that use them.

     To better understand the orbiting lab platform, we must know what the initials in “MEPHISTO”
stand for:

     “MEPHISTO is a French acronym that translates into English as Materials for the Study of
Interesting Phenomena of Solidification on Earth and in Orbit
. Since this was the fourth flight of
the MEPHISTO furnace, the experiment is referred to as MEPHISTO-4.

     MEPHISTO-4 was a directional solidification experiment that studied the liquid-to-solid
transformation of bismuth alloyed with tin. Directional solidification is a freezing technique common
to the processing of the electronic materials used in integrated circuits and detectors, such as
silicon and germanium.”[xix]

     So, yes, there are cutting-edge scientific applications being discovered even today for this not-well-known heavy metal of ours.

     Now that we have familiarized ourselves with the background on Bismuth, we are ready to
deplane and embark on our drive to Ken's Lab.  During the trip, please take time to review your
Bismuth science.  Let’s go! 

dms_bismuth1.jpg (2850563 bytes)


Interview with Ken Keraiff of Krystals Unlimited



KBC: You grow some marvelous crystals, Ken.  How did you choose Bismuth?


KK: Back in the late 80's I used to work at Cominco, the worlds largest refinery of metals such as lead, zinc, silver, gold and other metals. Bismuth was a by product of that process. One of my jobs there was to work in the lab where on occasion I grew these beautiful bismuth crystal specimens. It was then that my interest was tweaked onto growing them.

KBC: How do you cultivate such fine specimens?  Do you employ an industrial crystal growing apparatus, or have you invented your own setup?


KK: Growing them is really about melting and cooling. I use a graphite pot and a
scientific hotplate and 99.99% pure bismuth. The hotplate holds the bismuth and it sits on top of the hotplate. I melt the bismuth then moniter the growth of the crystals
inside the pot as the bismuth cools. Once I have crystal growth in the pot,
I remove the crystals. Then the process is repeated by melting the bismuth
and starting over. My process is different then the others that grow, in
that most of the crystals that I grow are freestanding. Which means that
they have a base that the main crystal body extends upward from. This allows
for better viewing of all sides of the crystal. I have over time shortened
my overall growing time. The whole process takes about 50 minutes. The
actual growing time of the crystals themselves is quite short. Being in the
range from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.

KBC: I like your “tower crystals”.  Could they be twins?


KK: Each crystal is unique unto itself. I have literally grown thousand and
there are no 2 alike. My tower crystals are more unique in that I don't have
many of them. I started saving them a few years back and have a collection
of around 50.


KBC: Must one use special care in handling these heavy-metal gems?


KK: The bismuth crystals are fragile. I liken them to my Mothers crystal in her
china cabinet. They should be handled with care. When cleaning mine, all I
use is a feather duster.

KBC: Have you ever experimented with other types of crystals?  Or, have you tried making alloys to grow into crystals?


KK: These are the only type of crystals I grow.They are my specialty.


KBC: Have you ever considered attempting a Guinness Book of World Records milestone?


KK: A few years back I attempted to grow a bismuth crystal the size of a
football. Safety was my first concern in this, and once I met all my safety
criteria it was a go. For about 3 weeks I was at it from morning to night,
thinking that it would be similar to my original process, but on a much
larger scale. The pot that I usually grow my crystals in holds about 25
pounds of bismuth. My large pot holds about 175 pounds. I kept daily notes
on what was happening and it seemed like I was going to get something that I
had only dreamed about. Unfortunately I went from steps 1 through 10 and
right back to 1 again. Frustrated, I stopped my attempt.

Again in the summer of 2005 I tried again. Carefully going over my notes I
thought that I had made the necessary changes to have success. But again I
was disappointed when after a few weeks it didn't work. I am sure I will try

KBC: You mention on your website that you have a client who makes jewelry from your fine crystals.  Our members also concentrate on jewelry-making and lapidary pursuits.  Have you any recommendations on how to safely work with Bismuth (for example, heat, soldering, gluing, polishing, etc.)?  Or, is your focus more on crystal creation?


KK: I have made a few pendants and necklaces from my crystals. The one thing
needed for sure when drilling them is a high speed drill and a very sharp
bit. As for heat, I would think it would be safe to apply some heat, but not
anything close to the melting point. Polishing is really not needed. The
best way to clean them is with a feather duster or a soft cloth. If a
crystal was to break, I have used crazy glue to glue the piece back on. Make
sure not to use to much though. Glueing them on to bases can be accomplished
with contact cement or epoxy.

KBC: May I ask, ‘Are you a teacher or scientist, in addition to being an accomplished hobbyist?’


KK: I work in a pulp mill as a pulp grader.

KBC: Is the pastime of growing Bismuth crystals something a novice hobbyist could attempt at home, or is better suited for an intermediate/advanced practitioner of science?


KK: Growing bismuth crystals can be achieved by the novice hobbyist. One must
remember though that when working with molten metals there are extreme
dangers of burns and explosions if it is not handled and regulated
carefully. It should also be attempted in a very well ventilated area with
all the safety equipment, such as respirator and a fire extinguisher.

KBC: You offer to create a crystal on special dates for your customers by request.  Is there any significance (such as metaphysical) to this other than creating a special celebratory memento?


KK: There are metaphysical aspects to bismuth, but my main reason for special
date crystals is to have something grown on the same day as something
special like a birthday, annivesary or something special.


KBC: My club members are impressed with your desire to share your experiences with bismuth, and with your generosity, especially in promoting interest through your “Guess the Weight Contest”.  Thank you.


KK: I thought it would be an interesting way to peak the curiosity of people.
Especially children.

KBC: May we offer a link to your sites, so that interested folks could learn more?


KK: You sure can.  Krystals Unlimited


KBC: Have you any additional comments?


KK: Thanks for the opportunity to showcase my bismuth crystals.

KBC: Thank you, Ken.



News Flash:
Ken’s newest line of crystals turn out with a “very nice pastel type coloring of greens, aquas, and pinks.  They are part of his most recent “Guess the Weight” Contest.  



Lapidary & Jewelry


PH_69_lg_applewood_head_of_man_with_bismuth.jpg (83554 bytes)
Bismuth Jewelry by Dominic Koval ©2005

     As we have seen, Bismuth is both a malleable metal and a gem.  It’s metal can be formed into sharply cast items with a high degree of details.   Workers of these white metals are called, “whitesmiths”, much the same as those who wrought gold and silver are called “goldsmiths” and “silversmiths”, respectively. 

     Though I know of no one who casts or forms jewelry findings from Bismuth, I do know of two people who craft fine jewelry from its crystalline gemform.   They are Dominic Koval and Helena of Ariel’s Joys and Gems at

     Mr. Koval has agreed to let us show you a pendant he created using a Bismuth gem and carved applewood. (Left)



Another crystal grower (Germany): Udo J. A. Behner at




[i]  Asimov, Isaac. “Names, Names, Names”. Andrés Rojas Homepage: “names.html”. 
Originally in Astounding Science Fiction, Dec. 1956.  5 Oct 1997. 30 Oct 2005

[ii]  University of California, Chemistry Operations. “bismuth”. 15 Dec 2003.
30 Oct 2005  

[iii]  Gymnázium & SPgsŠ Jeronýmova, Czechoslovakia. “bi2.htm”. 29 Oct 2005 <>

[iv]  Wikipedia. “Bismuth”. 28 Oct 2005. 30 Oct 2005   

[vi]  Quibs. “Science: Alloys”. 4 Dec 2000. 30 Oct 2005

[vii]  Rubin, Ken. “Reply to Ask-An-Earth-Scientist: Bismuth and Geology”.
30 Oct 2005

[viii]  Amethyst Galleries, Inc. “The Mineral Bismuth”. 1996. 1 Nov 2005   <>

[ix]  Otten, Carolyn Jones. “’Heavy Metal’ Snowstorms Blanket Venus”.
RedNOVA News. 11 Feb 2004. 1 Nov 2005  

[x]  McCutcheon, Bill. “Bismuth”. Specialty Nonferrous Metals, 55.7.
Canadian Minerals Yearbook 1995. 29 Oct 2005

[xiii]  Department of Mines Tasmania. Geological Survey Explanatory Report:
Sheffield, Sheet 37.
1979. Wilmot Online Access Centre. 1 Nov 2005     <>

[xiv]  Sidech, S. A.  “about bismuth”. 1 Nov 2005

[xv]  Yim, Ophelia (creator of electronic text). I.D. No. FranEVeils. British Women
Romantic Poets Project. Shields Library, University of California (Davis). Original
author: Eleanor Anne Porden Franklin. “The Veils; Or the Triumph of Constancy”. 
1998. 1 Nov 2005

[xvi]  Volvik, Inc. “Bismuth: Perfect Combination of High Performance and
Technology”. 2004. 31 2005

[xvii]  Gray, Theodore. “It’s None of Your Bismuth: The Effects of Thermal
Conductivity on Bismuth Crystal Size”. 1 Nov 2005

[xviii]  Peto, Mary Ann. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
NASA News. Press Release 94-16: “NASA Research Center Microgravity
Experiments Prime Customer of STS-62 Shuttle Mission”. 1 Nov 2005

[xix]  de Groh, III, Henry C. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA). “Crystal Growth Using MEPHISTO”. Jun 1999. 1 Nov 2005   <>



Until Next Time

     We hope you have enjoyed Ken Keraiff's phenomenal lab-grown Bismuth crystals, and Dominic
Koval's handcrafted Bismuth gem jewelry.  Perhaps you may wish to try growing your own crystals,
or even to attempt making a piece of wearable art for yourself, to sell, or as a gift!   Good luck!
     Until then, stay safe, and happy collecting. hardhat2a.gif (5709 bytes)


Article Contributors

Ken Kariaff, Krystals Unlimited (Interview, Photos, Crystal Sample)


Photo & Graphics Credits

I would like to gratefully acknowledge the generous contributions of our fellow Bismuth
enthusiasts, collectors, authors, curators, professionals, and club members who made this
work possible. 

Ken Keraiff, Krystals Unlimited

Dominic Koval, Well of Stars, Stow, Vermont (Bismuth Jewelry)

Stan Celestian, Earth Sciences Department, Glendale Community College, Glendale, Arizona

Thermal Technology, Inc.

Proctor & Gamble (makers of Pepto-Bismol®)

Pfizer (makers of Kaopectate®)

© 2005  All contributions to this article are covered under the copyright protection of this article
and by separate and several copyright protection(s), and are to be used for the sole purposes of
enjoying this scholarly article.  They are used gratefully with express written permission of the
authors, save for generally-accepted scholarly quotes, short in nature, deemed legal to reference
with the appropriate citation and credit.  Reproduction of this article must be obtained by express
written permission of the author, Kenneth B. Casey, for his contributions, authoring, photos, and
graphics.  Use of all other credited materials requires permission of each contributor separately

Links and general contact information are included in the credits above, and throughout this article.
The advice offered herein are only suggestions; it is the reader's charge to use the information
contained herein responsibly.  DMS is not responsible for misuse or accidents caused from this
article. All opinions, theories, proofs, and views expressed within this article, and in others on this
website, do not necessarily reflect the views of the Delaware Mineralogical Society.

Suggested Reading

Geochemistry of Bismuth by Ernest E. Angino

Chemistry, Physics and Science of Thermoelectric Materials:
Beyond Bismuth Telluride (Fundamental Materials Research)

edited by M. G. Kanatzidis, T. P. Hogan, S. D. Mahanti


KEN.JPG (31503 bytes)

About the Author:  Ken is current webmaster of the Delaware Mineralogical Society.  He has a diploma in Jewelry Repair, Fabrication & Stonesetting from the Bowman Technical School, Lancaster, PA, and worked as jeweler.  He has also studied geology at the University of Delaware.  And, he is currently a member of the Delaware Mineralogical Society and the Franklin-Ogdensburg Mineralogical Society. E-mail:



Isaac Asimov. “Names, Names, Names”. Andrés Rojas Homepage: “names.html”. 
Originally in Astounding Science Fiction, Dec. 1956.   5 Oct 1997. 30 Oct 2005

University of California, Chemistry Operations. “bismuth”. 15 Dec 2003. 30 Oct 2005

Gymnázium & SPgsŠ Jeronýmova, Czechoslovakia. “bi2.htm”. 29 Oct 2005

Wikipedia. “Bismuth”. 28 Oct 2005. 30 Oct 2005   

Quibs. “Science: Alloys”. 4 Dec 2000. 30 Oct 2005

Ken Rubin. “Reply to Ask-An-Earth-Scientist: Bismuth and Geology”. 30 Oct 2005

Amethyst Galleries, Inc. “The Mineral Bismuth”. 1996. 1 Nov 2005

Carolyn Jones Otten. “’Heavy Metal’ Snowstorms Blanket Venus”. RedNOVA News.
11 Feb 2004. 1 Nov 2005

Bill McCutcheon. “Bismuth”. Specialty Nonferrous Metals, 55.7.
Canadian Minerals Yearbook 1995. 29 Oct 2005

Department of Mines Tasmania. Geological Survey Explanatory Report: Sheffield,
Sheet 37.
1979. Wilmot Online Access Centre. 1 Nov 2005

Sidech, S. A.  “about bismuth”. 1 Nov 2005

Ophelia Yim (creator of electronic text). I.D. No. FranEVeils. British Women Romantic
Poets Project. Shields Library, University of California (Davis). Original author: Eleanor
Anne Porden Franklin. “The Veils; Or the Triumph of Constancy”.  1998. 1 Nov 2005

Volvik, Inc. “Bismuth: Perfect Combination of High Performance and Technology”. 2004.
31Oct 2005

Theodore Gray. “It’s None of Your Bismuth: The Effects of Thermal Conductivity on
Bismuth Crystal Size”. 1 Nov 2005

Mary Ann Peto. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA News.
Press Release 94-16: “NASA Research Center Microgravity Experiments Prime Customer
of STS-62 Shuttle Mission”. 1 Nov 2005

Henry C. de Groh, III. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). “Crystal
Growth Using MEPHISTO”. Jun 1999. 1 Nov 2005


Invitation to Members


Want to see your name in print?  Want to co-author, contribute, or author a whole Mineral of the Month article?  Well, this the forum for you!

And Members, if you have pictures, or a story you would like to share, please feel free to offer.  We'd like to post them for our mutual enjoyment.   Of course, you get full photo and author credit, and a chance to reach other collectors, hobbyists, and scientists.  We only ask that you check your facts, give credit where it is due, keep it wholesome for our Junior Members watching, and keep on topic regarding rockhounding.

You don't even have to be experienced in making a webpage.  We can work together to publish your story.  A handwritten short story with a Polaroid will do.  If you do fancier, a text document with a digital photo will suit, as well.   Sharing is the groundwork from which we can get your story out there.

Our club's webpages can reach any person surfing the net in the world, and even on the International Space Station, if they have a mind to view our website!

We are hoping for a possible tie-in to other informative programs upon which our fellow members might want to collaborate.  Contact any officer or board member with your suggestions.

December's MOTM will be a surprise.  For January 2006, we are waiting for your suggestions.  What mineral do you want to know more about?

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Most of the Mineral of the Month selections have come from most recent club fieldtrips and March Show Themes, and from inspriring world locales. thus far.  If you have a suggestion for a future Mineral of the Month, please e-mail me at:, or tell me at our next meeting.






Next Meeting

April Program, Monday, April 8, 2013:

"Destruction of the Fossil Exposures in the Chesapeake Bay Area" presented by Dr. Lauck Ward

General Club Meeting:
April 8, 2013

We are meeting at
Greenbank Mill

Special Meetings:

*Show Committee Meeting, April or May, 2013

*New Home/Lapidary Committee, 2013

*Board Meeting,  April, 2013

Next Field Trips


Past Fieldtrips

Next Show
DMS March Show
March 1-2, 2014 at DelTech Stanton


Our 2013 Show Theme was:
"All That Glitters is as Good as Gold!"

March Show 2013 Report






Fossil Forum

"Dinny, the Dino"

"Belemnites are coming"


MOTM June also commemorates our 50th Show!

It's shiny, yellow, and is a symbol of 50 Years!Can you guess?


Collecting Adventure Stories:

"Sunny Brook Crick Goethite" by Joe Dunleavy