Natural Chrome Diopside

In the world of colored gemstones, the most valued gems have a vivid intense color. That is the reason that ruby, blue sapphire and emerald have traditionally been the most valuable colored stones.

There are relatively few gems apart from ruby that occur in a pure red -- mainly spinel and (sometimes) rubellite tourmaline. The same is true for a deep sapphire blue, which is only rarely found in a few other gem varieties, such as spinel and kyanite. But the choice in vivid green gems is wider, and has expanded in the recent past as the result of some new discoveries.

Emerald has long been the most valued green gemstone, with its unique bluish green hue resulting from traces of chromium and vanadium. But there are 3 other chrome green gems which have recently become popular: tsavorite garnet, chrome tourmaline and chrome diopside

Tsavorite Garnet Kenya 2.72 cts Chrome Tourmaline Africa 2.43 cts Chrome Diopside Russia 1.58 cts
Tsavorite Garnet Chrome Tourmaline Chrome Diopside

Tsavorite, a rare green garnet found mainly in east Africa, first came on the market in the 1970's. Promoted by Tiffany & Co., tsavorite quickly gained market acceptance as a high quality alternative to emerald, due to its exceptional brilliance and fire, and the fact that it is completely untreated. Unfortuntely the material is scarce and stones over 2 carats are very rare. .

Another fine green gem from Africa, chrome tourmaline, proved to be just as rare. Though green is a common color for tourmaline, the chrome tourmaline is actually a distinct tourmaline variety known as chrome dravite. Chrome tourmaline is often found in the same locations in east Africa as tsavorite garnet, but miners tend to concentrate their efforts on the higher-priced tsavorite. Where tsavorite is often found in a slightly bluish green, chrome tourmaline tends towards a more yellowish green.

Then in 1988 a new find of a chromium-bearing diopside was discovered in Russia and this discovery soon had an impact on the market for fine green gems. The color rivals tsavorite garnet and chrome tourmaline, and chrome diopside tends towards a pure green without a distinct blue or yellow secondary hue. This new material was also more abundant. And the discovery came at a very fortunate time, just shortly before the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. It then became possible to export chrome diopside to the west.

Chrome diopside is not only more abundant than tsavorite or chrome tourmaline, it is also considerably less expensive, with high quality specimens found in the market for under $100 a carat. But there are two points that buyers should note in considering chrome diopside. First, it is a relatively soft stone, with a hardness rating of 5-6 on the Mohs scale. So this gem is not suitable for everyday wear rings. It is fine for earrings and pendants and for occasional wear rings in protective settings. Second, you will not usually find chrome diopside in sizes over 2 or 2.5 carats. This is because the saturation is so intense that larger stones tend to be too dark. As a result, gem cutters will often cut chrome diopside slightly shallow to lighten the color.

See our selection of fine Chrome Diopside from Russia