Vesuvianite gemstone - Also known as Idocrase gemstones
Volcanoes have been credited with forming some of the most fascinating terrains in the world today. Apart from forming these land masses, they are also credited with the formation of some of the most intriguing gemstones in the world too. One of the most incredible processes that cause the formation of these gemstones of metamorphism, and the mineral known as Vesuvianite, or Idocrase is one of them; this is a menial that was formed through contact metamorphism of limestone that has a high silicon content.
A layman’s description of vesuvianite
Vesuvianite also known as Idocrase is a green mineral which has a color that is almost the same as that of olivine. The mineral can also be found in the brown, blue, white, yellow and the rare purple color. Although it is found in the presence of other rare mineral, it can also be found in a pure and transparent form and this is the one that is popular for faceting and placing in jewelry. Vesuvianite can be found in various sizes, with some of them being too small for any other purposes apart from specimen collection, and others being large masses.
The crystals of vesuvianite come in the form of transparent prisms with four sides and all of them have a pyramid termination at the ends. It is often quite difficult to tell the large masses of vesuvianite from what is known as grossular garnet, and in the past, this mineral was often mistaken to be grossular garnet. There is a massive form of vesuvianite which is called Californite, and is also known by the terms American jade and California jade
Why vesuvianite is also called Idocrase
In 1795, Vesuvianite was found by Abraham Gottlob Werner, as he was doing a geological study of minerals found on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius in Italy, and it was given the name, based on where it was found. After several years, another mineralogist, going by the name of Rene Just Huay, found that the mineral was also found in many other parts of the world, and for this reason, he suggested that the mineral should be called Idocrase. Now, you may wonder why the name Idocrase was proposed; the name is derived from the Greek word “ido” meaning “idea or likeness”, and “krasis” which means “mixture”. This was brought about by the fact that this gemstone resembles many other gemstones. It does resemble the Tourmaline, Peridot, and several other green-colored Garnets.
Despite the two names being used interchangeably all over the world there are other names which are used to describe the mineral due to the unique properties based on the region it comes from. A great example is Californite, which is used to describe the massive vesuvianite forms which are found in California. Other names are also used to describe the dominant element in the mineral. A good example is Cyprine, which refers to the blue variety of the mineral, which gets its color from the presence of trace amounts of copper. The name is derived from the name Cyprium, which is the name that was given to copper in ancient times. Although all these names refer to the same mineral, and are used interchangeably, the most common name is still vesuvianite.
The location of vesuvianite
Vesuvianite can be found in many parts of the world, where there has been contact metamorphism brought about by volcanic action. There are huge deposits on Mt Vesuvius, Italy; Asbestos, Quebec, Canada; The Siskiyou County in California, The Ural Mountains of Russia and the Fushan, Hebei Province in China. Cyprine, which is the blue variety of vesuvianite, has been found in the Jakobsberg Mine in Sweden; Franklin, New Jersey; Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
A detailed look at the localities of the versatile vesuvianite
The vesuvianite that comes from the slopes of My Vesuvius in Italy is said to be one of the most exceptional. One of the most notable locations in this region is Bellecombe, which is found in the Val D’Aosta, which is known for producing large and very lustrous crystals. There are several other locations found in the deep valleys of the Italian Alps, which are the homes of high quality vesuvianite. These are the mines located in Val Chisone, Val D’Fassa, Val Malencoin, Val D’Susa, and Val Camonica. However, the original locality of the mineral that was aptly named vesuvianite was Monte Somma, located on the Mountain Vesuvius.
In Quebec Canada, in a mine in Asbestos called the Jeffery Mine, you will find one of the most brilliant and colorful varieties of vesuvianite. The gemstones from this location have a deep green, pink and purple color; the purple variety is very rare. Apart from these main colors, there are many other varieties which have multiple colors. The mine was closed a while ago, but in the world of gem collectors, this is an area that is recognized as having produced some of the most fascinating vesuvianite gemstones in the world. There are small amounts of radiating vesuvianite which are found in the Mont Saint-Hilaire region of Quebec.
In the United States of America, vesuvianite is commonly mined from the region known as Crestmore, Riverside, County, California. However, the most famous vesuvianite from the USA can be found in the Pulga, Butte County area in California; this is the variety that is well known for its distinct blue color. Crystals that have formed magnificent structures usually come from Magnet Cove, Hot Spring County, Arkansas. The same crystals, but having a very high lustrous quality come from the counties of Eden Mills, Orleans and Lamoille, in Vermont. You will also get brown vesuvianite coming from Joppa Hills, Amherst County, New Hampshire. There are fantastic black vesuvianite crystals which come from Maine at Sanford, York County, and also at Casco, Cumberland County.
There is one special type of vesuvianite, which in the gemstone world is called Californite, which is unique because it resembles poor quality jade. Historically, it has been used to simulate jade in many purposes. The famed gemologist, known as George Frederick Kunz, was the first to describe it in the year 1903. It is he who suggested that this variety should be called Californite, after the state in which it was found.
In the year 2005, a gemologist known as Dietrich, opined that with regards to Kunz, the vesuvianite variety from this region would have been regarded prestigiously, if he (Kunz) had not given it the name of Californite. He goes on to say that the fact that the gemstone was only used as a simulant, went on to disparage its use as a vesuvianite. Californite has also been called other names such as the American Jade, Vesuvianite Jade and also California Jade. He says that any of the names that describe it as jade should not be used, and it should be regarded as a different vesuvianite variety in its own right.
In the Franklin area of New Jersey, there is a special form of vesuvianite to be found. This is the variety called Cyprine, because it has a blue color that is attributed to the presence of trace elements of copper. This vesuvianite is said to be a complex calcium, aluminum borosilicate, and is also found in other locations other than the Franklin area.
There are other areas all over the world where vesuvianite can be found and each of these varieties have their own distinct characteristics. From the Fushan, Hebei and Handan provinces of China, you come across vesuvianite that has large tabular floater crystals, which have a flattened terminals on their pseudo-octahedral crystalline forms. From the Shigar Valley, Hachupa, Alchuri and Hachupa regions on Pakistan, you get vesuvianite that has lustrous dark crystals. From Zermatt, Saas Fee, and Wallis areas of Switzerland, you get distinct brown and green vesuvianite varieties. In México, in the Coahuila and Sierra de Cruces regions near Lake Jaco, you will get vesuvianite with distinct brownish-yellow shades, which are sometimes said to resemble Grossular. In the Vilyui River Basin in Yakutia, Russia, you will get a vesuvianite variety that is also known as Wiluite. From Kajiado, in the Rift Valley of Kenya, you get rough material which gives rise to greenish yellow to yellowish green vesuvianite gemstones. Xanthite is known as a vesuvianite variety that is rich in manganese.
A little history about Mt. Vesuvius
In Italy, in the Gulf of Naples, lies a strato-volcano, which is popularly known as Mount Vesuvius. The Compaian Volcanic Arc passes through this region and the mountain is an important part of this chain of volcanoes. Mt. Vesuvius has a very large cone, which has very steep sides, which were formed when a much larger structure collapsed a long time ago.
One of the most fascinating eruptions that Mt Vesuvius ever had occurred in AD 79, which caused the great city of Pompeii to be buried under ash and lava. This is not the only time that this great mountain has erupted, and it has done so several times in its history, and it is the only volcano on the mainland of Europe that has ever erupted in the last century. In 1944, during the Second World War, Mount Vesuvius had its last eruption, and it completely destroyed the villages of Ottaviano, Massa di Somma, San Sebastiano al vessuvio and a large part of San Girogio a Cremano.
The uses of Vesuvianite
Given that vesuvianite has a value of 6.5 on the Mohs scale, it is quite soft and it is mainly cut as cabochons. It is ideal for this purpose since it has opaque tendencies, which are best experienced as cabochons. The transparent variety is sometimes cut into facets, in order to bring out the green fire and deep intense color of this majestic stone. Usually, this gemstone is used for making earrings and necklaces, but the transparent variety can be used in the making of beautiful rings. The wearer should care for the stone just as he or she would care for a garnet or quartz piece of jewelry. If it has to be set in a ring, this gemstone should be set using a bevel to protect its edge from bumps. It is essential that the wearer does not subject the stone to rough treatment since it can fracture and experience a lot of wear and tear.
Some interesting mythology about vesuvianite
Vesuvianite is considered to be a gemstone that has a lot of energy and it is said to banish negativity from the life and psyche of the wearer. It is said to help the needs of the heart with the will, and this leads to having the courage that can help the wearer to change the path of his life completely. If someone who had hidden fears was to wear this gemstone, it is believed that these fears would be banished, and the stone is said to bring about good health to the wearer.
Some consumer insights about vesuvianite gemstones
If you are not familiar with vesuvianite, here is some information that you may need when you are going to visit your jeweler:
The primary color of vesuvianite is green and is said to resemble that of jade. In fact, in the past, many traders and byers alike, used to mistake vesuvianite for jade. It is very rare to find transparent vesuvianite and these forms are used in making faceted gems.
This is a gemstone that derives its name from the location where it was first discovered, and that is on Mount Vesuvius, which is found in Italy. The first discovery was of the opaque green variety, but later on the transparent varieties were also found. Since this gemstone is also found in many other parts of the world, having distinct variations, it is also called Idocrase, with means a stone that has the likeness of many other gemstone types.
This is a gemstone that can be worn every day, but only as earrings and necklaces. The low hardness value of 6.5 on the Mohs scale makes it unsuitable for wearing as a ring, unless you are sure that you can be very careful, whenever you wear it.
This is not a very expensive gemstone and it is priced at about the same price as a wonderful pink tourmaline, but if you want a large stone, then you should be prepared to pay premium rates. For the people of Pompeii, this was not considered as a birthstone, and it has never been considered as such ever since the eruption that wiped out the whole city.
If you are looking to buy one of these stones, you should be prepared to wait. Although vesuvianite is readily available, its distribution is not so wide, since it is not well known to the common jewel buyer. When you want to buy the gemstone, you should look for a jeweler who is well established, and independent, who has trained gemologists as part of the staff members. They will prove to be helpful in guiding you in getting the right stone for your purposes.
That said, this is an unusual gemstone and will surely turn heads when you wear it around your neck as a necklace or as fine earrings to match your outfit. You have a wide variety of colors to choose from, and if you would like a gemstone based on the origin, then you should consult a gemologist who can help you get the right gem. Gemstones such as these may not be very common, but they are very beautiful, and unique; just what you need.