Orpiment   and  Realgar
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Museum Specimens
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This is an Old Stock specimen of Realgar from the Getchell
Mine in Nevada.
We obtained this specimen years ago from Wally Marks at
the highway 50&95 Rock Shop in Fallon, Nevada

This specimen weighs 0.3lb (132g) and measures 2.9 x 2.3
x 1.3 inches (7.4 x 5.9 x 3.3cm)
Item #  RGR 11109333
Getchell Mine, Nevada

Realgars bright red color can be an location aid to miners.  
Realgar gets its name from the Arabic words for "powder of
the mine" (rahj al ghar). Realgar is famous for some
stunningly beautiful specimens. Some specimens can have
a deep ruby red color with an amazing clarity and a high
luster. Realgar is sometimes called “Ruby Sulfur” by the
miners. The color of Realgar is truly something to see and
quality specimens on white calcite from The Getchell Mine in
Nevada are real treasures!
Orpiment and Realgar are both arsenic sulfides. Orpiment is a rare orange to lemon-yellow mineral consisting of a
native trisulfide of arsenic and usually forms with Realgar. Realgar and Orpiment are almost always found together.
Realgar is a bright reddish-orange arsenic sulfide. Crystals of orpiment are extremely rare as it usually forms
masses and crusts, and may be crystallized in bright needles. (Realgar in this form is called ruby of arsenic). The
yellow color is special to orpiment and can be confused only with a few other minerals. These two minerals are
insoluble, but they do volatilize easily when heated. They release a strong garlic smell (arsenic).  Realgar tends to
turn to orpiment when exposed to sunlight. Over time, orpiment will deteriorate into a powder. The process takes a
long time, but exposure to light will accelerate it. Specimens should be stored in dark, enclosed containers.

Both Orpiment and Realgar occur in low temperature hydrothermal veins which are fractures in rock where hot water
precipitated minerals.  They may also form in hot spring deposits and as sublimated gasses emitted from

In earlier days Arsenic was often called the “Poison of Kings” and was almost impossible to detect, but today, it can
be detected with some basic chemical tests in a crime lab. Victorian era women used to ingest arsenic to make
themselves look more “regally paler” to separate themselves from the tanned working class commoners.

Even though Orpiment and Realgar are arsenic compounds, they're not really hazardous in a rock collection.  Don't
taste the minerals, wash your hands after holding them, and you will have no problems.
Item #  ORPN 06119843
Twin Creeks Mine, Nevada

Item #  ORPR 06119841
Kola Penninsula, Russia