Purple of Cassius

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Purple of Cassius is a purple pigment formed by the reaction of gold salts with tin(II) chloride. It has been used to impart glass with a red coloration (see cranberry glass), as well as to determine the presence of gold as a chemical test.

Generally, the preparation of this material involves gold being dissolved in aqua regia, then reacted with a solution of tin(II) chloride. The tin(II) chloride reduces the chloroauric acid from the dissolution of gold in aqua regia to a colloid of elemental gold supported on tin dioxide to give a purple precipitate or coloration.

When used as a test, the intensity of the color correlates with the concentration of gold present. This test was first observed and refined by a German physician and alchemist, Andreas Cassius (1600–1676) of Hamburg, in 1666.


Partially translated from the German Wikipedia article, Goldpurpur.

  • L. B. Hunt (1976). "The True Story of Purple of Cassius" (PDF). Gold Bulletin. 9 (4): 134–139. doi:10.1007/bf03215423.

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