By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Note: This article was first published on the Ruby Lane Blog and the now defunct Yahoo! Contributor Network.
Upon hearing the term, “chrome diopside” for the first time, perhaps you might guess that it is a new type of chemical pesticide or industrial byproduct. You’d be wrong with either guess! The surprising truth is that you’d be most likely to find it in the colored gems section of your favorite fine jewelry store!
Fine, gem quality chrome diopside occurs in the vivid green colors of the forest. Coveted stones are dark forest/pine green. Lighter hues of chrome diopside are a bright, moss-green color. All chrome diopside has yellow undertones, unlike the finest emeralds, which have sea green to blue undertones.
Cut properly, chrome diopside gemstones have wonderful scintillation. (By scintillation, I mean the flashes of inner light that sparkle when one moves the gemstone from side to side.) The vivid green color of the stone and high clarity (lack of flaws) are completely natural, so chrome diopside never needs to be treated or enhanced like many other gemstones. It is harder than pearls, amber or coral but not as hard as an emerald, ruby or sapphire. Therefore, care needs to be taken that Chrome diopside is not scratched, especially if it is mounted in a ring that will be worn frequently. Earrings or necklaces are a much better choice, because they typically see less wear than rings.
Chrome diopside is a relatively newly discovered precious gemstone. The Russians are the largest producers of the gem. Vintage lovers and collectors take note: Gem quality chrome diopside wasn’t discovered in large enough quantities to market until the late 1980’s. So if someone tries to sell you an Art Deco ring with a chrome diopside stone, it just couldn’t be! (Perhaps the setting is from the Art Deco period. The seller would need to clarify that the stone is not original to the ring!) It is the same with Tanzanite. Tanzanite wasn’t discovered until the 1960’s, so any pre-1960’s jewelry that claims to have Tanzanite gemstones can’t be! But I digress.
There is no arguing the fact that chrome diopside is not the most appealing name for a precious gemstone. The Russians are hoping the trade name they came up with for the chrome diopside they mine becomes the new universal name of the stone; much like purplish-blue color zoisite became the catchy “Tanzanite.” The general consensus, however, seems to be that “Vertelite” has about as much fabulous gem quality allure as “chrome diopside.”
What price range does chrome diopside fall into? Well, if you believe the latest Jewelry Television (the largest gemstone retailer in the world) pitches for chrome diopside, you will hear that it is currently selling for about the same amount per carat as Tanzanite!
According to Jewelry Television, the supply of chrome diopside is dwindling, so its price is constantly on the rise. I believe it is just hard to keep a consistent supply available because of extreme conditions it is mined under. Russian chrome diopside, which is supposedly the finest rated of the gem quality material in the world, is mined in an unforgiving area of Siberia where the weather is so harsh that mining is only possible for three months of the entire year. Not only that, the conditions during that three month window are still life threatening and if not careful, miners can easily succumb to hypothermia and die while they are mining!
So the next time you go to a fine jewelry store, make sure you take time to look for the pieces that feature the marvelous untreated green gemstone, chrome diopside. Don’t forget its cold climate origin and the tremendous effort it takes to bring such a lovely treasure to your fingertips!
1. “Chrome Diopside, Russian Gemstone Mines,” diopsidemines.com.
2. “Chrome diopside properties and information,” gehnabazaar.com/gemstones.
3. Gemstone Essentials Course book, (2008) GIA. Printed in the United States.
4. Jewelry Television, JTV.com
5. Personal Experience.
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Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems, jewelry and fashion. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop,Treasure Box Antiques. Current projects include ghostwriting jewelry and fashion blogs for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her? Visit her website danielleoliviatefftwrites.comfor clips, terms and more information.
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The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!
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