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Diopside was considered exclusively a collectors’ gem until the relatively recent discovery of its gorgeous deep forest green variety, Chrome Diopside. Almost solely found in a remote area of eastern Siberia, this variety’s glowing green hue rivals that of Emerald and Tourmaline. It is considered a creative gemstone, which can help us visualise our desired goals, enabling us to define these and focus on them. Moreover, it is a superb stone for emotional healing as it enhances our ability to love ourselves as well as others, and improves our ability to both give and receive love.
What is Chrome Diopside?
Chrome Diopside is part of the pyroxene family of minerals, more specifically it is a chromium-rich variety of calcium magnesium silicate with a monoclinic, columnar crystal structure. Formations of this stone begin within basic and ultra-basic metamorphic and igneous rocks.
It is one of the rarer forms of Diopside and one of the newest gems on the market. Though relatively new, it rapidly became one of the most popular green gems of today making its way into the mainstream gemstone trade. Such popularity should not be mistaken for being common: naturally occurring green gemstones, and thus Chrome Diopside, are actually rather rare.
Characteristics of Chrome Diopside
This stunning variety of Diopside is characterised by a distinctive rich green colouring produced by the presence of chromium (the same element responsible for the gorgeous pigments of Rubies and Emeralds). Traces of chromium create varying shades of green: the most desirable tint is a deep forest green, though medium-dark greens are considered most valuable.
Its intense colour rivals that of Emerald’s. However, the use of Chrome Diopside has not overwhelmed the gemstone industry due to the fact that it is a relatively soft gem, with a Mohs hardness of 5.5 – 6. Therefore, this gem is better suited for earrings or pendants, rather than for jewellery prone to impact or abrasion such as rings or bracelets.
Chrome Diopside is usually available in small sizes. Rarer large sized gems are actually less sought after as the colour becomes too rich and too dark. In order to attain the most desirable shade of green, faceted stones are typically under 2 carats in weight. Gems weighing more than 2 carats in a rich medium dark green colour are very rare. On rare occasions, opaque, very dark to black stones may exhibit asterism or chatoyancy; these are uncommon and very valuable specimens.
A further trait of a good quality Chrome Diopside gem is its clarity and lustre. This mineral is often available in high clarity and transparency, therefore inclusions visible to the naked eye are typically not acceptable. Once the gems are cut and polished their lustre will range from vitreous to dull.
Identifying Chrome Diopside
Chrome Diopside can easily be mistaken for other similarly coloured gems such as Tourmaline or Tsavorite Garnet. Observing the following traits will, however, help distinguish this particular stone from others:
- Chrome Diopside can be identified through scratch testing as it’s much softer than either of the above mentioned minerals or Emerald.
- Chrome Diopside can be distinguished from other Diopsides thanks to the presence of chromium, and can be identified from other similarly coloured green gemstones through its calcium magnesium silicate composition.
- Chrome Diopside has a distinct monoclinic crystal structure, easily distinguishable from Emerald’s hexagonal structure or Tsavorite Garnet’s cubic crystals, for instance.
First discovery of Chrome Diopside
Chrome Diopside was only recently discovered in Siberia in 1988. Upon its discovery and first introduction into the European gemstone market, dealers were extremely enthusiastic about the stone’s attractive green colour. The comparison was instantly made with more valuable gemstones as the glowing green of Chrome Diopside could rival that of Chrome Tourmaline, Tsavorite and even Emeralds, though the new gem was available at just a fraction of the other stones’ price.
Once the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Russia granted this gemstone Class 1 export status, allowing it to more extensively enter the international gem market as an alternative for Demantoid Garnet, Tsavorite Garnet and Emeralds. Despite the relative rarity of Chrome Diopside, it remains to this day a modestly priced gem.
Where can Chrome Diopside be found?
Since its first discovery, the liberalisation of the economy of the former Soviet Union has made this gemstone more readily available than it once used to be as it is still mostly mined in Siberia and Yakutia. More specifically, the majority of deposits are found in Inaglie, a remote area in eastern Siberia.
More recently, deposits have also been found in Pakistan which has now become a significant supplier. Other minor deposits are also found in Afghanistan and Finland.
More generically, Diopside deposits have been found in Canada, China, Germany, India, Sweden and the USA, while other varieties of Diopside are found in selected locations across the world. For example, Violane (a rare, violet-blue variety) is exclusively found in the Piedmont and Val d’Aosta regions of Italy, while Tashmarine Diopside (a brilliant yellow-green variety) is found only in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and western China. Star Diopside is instead found in India and further varieties can be found in Austria, Burma, Madagascar, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and also in the USA (in the state of New York).
The origin of its name
The name ‘Diopside’ comes from the Greek words ‘di’ (= double) and ‘opsis’ (= face or view), in reference to the two ways the stone’s vertical prism may be orientated. Due to the etymology of its name, Diopside has acquired the reputation for being a visualization stone, useful for increasing creative vision and self-awareness.
Varieties of Diopside
This fabulous gem may occur as white, grey, blue-green, lavender, yellowish-brown, brown, greenish black or may even be colourless, these various colours may even present themselves mixed within one stone. Gorgeous Chrome Diopside is but one of the plethora of varieties Diopside comes in, others include:
Black Star Diopside - which, once cut into cabochon, displays asterism in form of a four rayed star. This variety is usually very dark green to black.
Tashmarine Diopside – a light yellow-green variety (due to smaller traces of chromium, the colour is less intense than that of Chrome Diopside) which originates from a recently exploited deposit on the mountain ranges in eastern Uzbekistan. The name was coined in 2001 by the Columbia Gem House Company in Vancouver, Canada.
Violane – a manganese rich variety with a stunning light blue to purple colour.
Properties of Diopside
All Diopside is known as a creative mineral. It can help increase the creative visualisation of our desired goals, enabling us to define these and focus on them. Diopside is a much appreciated stone also for its ability to bring about self-awareness and the understanding of one’s dual nature, encouraging the integration of the two complementary halves in order to make a complete and serene whole.
Furthermore, this wonderful gem is thought to enhance the intellect, stimulating mathematical, statistical and analytical abilities.
Diopside is a useful stone to work with when healing emotional trauma as it can bring about cleansing, cathartic tears (it is in fact also known as the ‘crying stone’). It is also a gem which is said to aid the development of trust in others as well as in oneself. Trust in ourselves can result in being able to live from the heart, trusting one’s instincts rather than merely being aware of them.
On a physical level, Diopside is known to work on the heart and lungs to clear any energy blockages and thus allow a freer flow of positive energy. This will in turn have a positive impact on the circulatory system, the respiratory system and on kidneys, easing headaches and regulating blood pressure.
It is a wonderful stone to facilitate healing and to aid recovery from most chronic illnesses. The support it provides is not only physical but also emotional. Diopside can for example aid with the recovery from addictive or obsessive behaviours, as it allows the mind to be more open to new healing ideas which might be of help with resolving our specific issues. This is achieved as it enables the release of toxic emotions such as stubbornness, at the same time allowing us to trust our instincts more and act upon them.
Chrome Diopside in particular is an empowering stone for those who have a strong interest in the wellbeing and healing of the planet. Thanks to its ‘green ray’, this gem helps make a connection with Mother Earth, or Gaia, supporting a person’s connection with the planet while harmonising energies between the individual and earth.
It is considered a compelling and persuasive crystal as it promotes the idea of being of ‘service’ to Earth. It is said that those who come into contact with this gorgeous green stone feel a sort of concern for all the changes to the planet that have been experienced lately. Furthermore, this gemstone is recommended to those on a spiritual path as its green ray is said to provide reassurance that Mother Earth has both their and her interests at heart.
Chrome Diopside is primarily associated to the Fourth Chakra, that of the Heart. It allows us to become more open to the idea of a universal love, improving our ability to both give and receive love, which makes it a wonderful stone for emotional healing. The energy within the Heart Chakra supports our emotions and can be extremely empowering, particularly for women. Furthermore, via the Heart Chakra, the energy contained by Chrome Diopside creates an intense connection with our planet, Mother Earth herself.
As Chrome Diopside emanates its vibration from the base of the spine all the way through the top of the head (that is through the entire etheric chakra column), it will energise the Sacral Chakra and the Third Eye Chakra, as well as the Heart Chakra. It thus has the power to activate, bring into alignment and heal all of the chakras. It is a wonderful stone for emotional healing.
Black Diopside instead has a strong connection to the Earth Star Chakra, which makes it an excellent stone for spiritual grounding. Such connection has the potential to balance the aura and also to feed the full spectrum of the light energy into the etheric body. Furthermore, similarly to Chrome Diopside, this variety too helps make a connection with Mother Earth. Engaging with the planet’s energy, one may find that their values and ideals regarding Earth will change. Being in contact with Black Diopside will stimulate a different connection to both the animal and the plant kingdom, as the sacredness of all life is recognised and understood. This in turn tends to make one more passionate about the planet and about treating it more respectfully.