The element Hg. In its pure form it’s a silver liquid, hence the nickname quicksilver. However, you cannot find pure mercury in the earth, only as a compound.


Shiny red cinnabar from Germany. Also known as HgS, mercury (II) sulfide, cinnabar used to be mined to extract the mercury (mercury is only found in ores like cinnabar, calomel, and livingstonite) or to be mixed with sulfur and used as red pigment. Due to mercury’s toxicity, it is no longer allowed in paints, pesticides, batteries, and many other products. In fact, the United States and many other countries have stopped mining mercury because of the environmental hazard and a decrease in demand.

If you own a cinnabar specimen, keep it in a glass cabinet or enclosed box, wash your hands after touching it, don’t break it and inhale the dust, and don’t let children or pets eat it.  These are good rules for your entire rock collection.