A rare and beautiful gem
Vesuvianite is a sorosilicate mineral with a crystal structure that closely resembles that of garnet. It derives its name from Mount Vesuvius, Italy, where it was initially found. This sub-transparent to sub-translucent semi-precious gem is also referred to as Idocrase, from the Greek “idea” meaning “likeness” and “krasis” meaning “mixture”, due to its visual appearance similar to peridot, tourmaline, and green garnets, with which Vesuvianite tends to combine.
Vesuvianite occurs in as many as 1000 places worldwide, usually in contact-metamorphic rocks and Alpine veins. In addition to Italy, the mineral is found in California, Quebec in Canada, and the Ural Mountains in Russia. It is also mined in Norway and Switzerland, with much of the recent production from Kenya and Tanzania.
This gemstone is best worn in necklaces or earrings but can also be used for a ring. It requires careful handling due to its brittleness, especially when set in a ring. Care for this gem the way you would a garnet or quartz.
Vesuvianite stones of exceptional colour are collector items and commonly carved into sculptures and cut into gems. Typically occurring in green, brown, and yellow shades, Vesuvianite also comes in rare pink, purple, blue, red, orange, and white.
Olive green and green-brown Vesuvianite are the most common. One variety, first found in California, is referred to as Californite or American jade. Later, quantities of these gems were discovered in Pakistan and Africa.
Blue vesuvianite was discovered initially in Norway but had no gem value. Today they are found in New Jersey and other US locations. Called Cyprine, this gem contains trace amounts of copper, which gives it its blue colour and its other name, Cupreous Idocrase. Vesuvianite stones with brilliant purple crystals, sometimes combined with green, have been found in Quebec, Canada.
To display its colour to advantage, Vesuvianite is usually faceted or step cut. Translucent stones, which are clean and attractive in colour, are cut and polished as cabochons. Transparent vesuvianite stones are rare; when found, they may be cut into all shapes.
Fun facts about Vesuvianite
Geologists tend to use the term, Vesuvianite, while gemologists seem to prefer Idocrase.
This gem is believed to have metaphysical properties that help release anger and gently restore emotional balance. Vesuvianite is not a designated birthstone but is associated with Sagittarius and Capricorn zodiac signs. Vesuvianite measures 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness.