Purpurite is a uniquely colored mineral, displaying a reflective dark-purple to purplish-red color on cleaved/fresh surfaces, and a dark-brown to black-brown color on existing/altered surfaces. Similarly, its luster is reflective and satiny on cleaved/fresh surfaces and dull on existing/altered. Its color and luster is so distinctive that it derives its name from the Latin word purpura, meaning purple. These qualities would make it ideal for the gem/jewelry trade, but since it is opaque with limited durability (4.5 on the Moh’s hardness scale) it is only used as cabochons.
The crystal system for Purpurite is orthorhombic. Crystal formation has never been found; exclusively found in masses.
Collectable specimens of Purpurite are found in few locations, including Australia, Namibia and in the USA (Maine, North Carolina).