Gem Profile September 27: Vesuvianite

By on September 27, 2013
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by Layna Palmer, Wire-Sculpture.com

Today's Gem Profile is...

Vesuvianite

Gemstones on Wire-Sculpture.com

I think you know by now that volcanos can be numbered among my favorite things, though I don’t think they would fit well with raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens.

My favorite volcanic process is that of metamorphism and this week we will be taking a look at a mineral and gemstone that is made through contact metamorphism of high silicon-bearing limestone; Vesuvianite, or Idocrase.

Tumbled vesuvianite pebble

Tumbled vesuvianite pebble

What is Vesuvianite?

Vesuvianite is generally green, a similar color to olivine, it has been found in yellow, brown, blue, purple (rare) and white.  It is often found with other rare minerals and the transparent form can be faceted for gems.

Vesuvianite can be in a massive form or in crystal form with the crystals being faceted for gems.

Vesuvianite from the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec

Vesuvianite from the Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec

Vesuvianite crystals form in transparent four-sided prisms with a pyramid termination.  Massive forms are often difficult to distinguish from grossular garnet which is why Vessuvianite has been mistaken for grossular garnet in the past.  Callifornite, a massive form of opaque Vesuvianite, has also been called California Jade and American Jade.

Transparent Idocrase

Transparent Idocrase

Where is it found?

Vesuvianite was first discovered in 1795 by Abraham Gottlob Werner as he was studying the minerals around Mount Vesuvius in Italy, hence the name.  Several years later another mineralogist, Rene Just Huay, suggested the name Idocrase after more of the stone was found in other parts of the world.

The two names are fairly interchangeable with some regional names like Californite distinguishing the massive form found in that state and Cyprine which denotes blue Idocrase that has trace elements of copper and is named after Cyprium, the ancient name for copper.  A note here; though the names are fairly interchangeable, the name Vesuvianite does take precedence.

Vesuvianite Wand

Vesuvianite Wand

 

Vesuvianite is found worldwide in volcanic areas that have been subjected to contact metamorphism with significant veins being found in Italy (Mt Vesuvius), Canada (Asbestos), California (Siskiyou County), the Ural Mountains of Russia, and most recently in China (Fushan, Hebei Province).  Cyprine, the blue variety of Vesuvianite, has been found in New Jersey (Franklin), Sweden (Jakobsberg Mine), Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

A little history of Mount Vesuvius:

Mount Vesuvius is a stratovolcano located in the Gulf of Naples, Italy. It is one of the several volcanoes which form the Companian Volcanic arc. Vesuvius consists of a large cone partially encircled by the the steep rim of a summit caldera caused by the collapse of an earlier and much higher structure.

City of Naples with Mount Vesuvius at sunset

City of Naples with Mount Vesuvius at sunset

The crater of Vesuvius in 2012

The crater of Vesuvius in 2012

Mount Vesuvius is best known for it’s eruption in AD 79, which led to the burying of the Roman city of Pompei.

Pompeii with Mt. Vesuvius in the background

Pompeii with Mt. Vesuvius in the background

Vesuvius has erupted many time since and is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted in the last hundred years. The last major eruption of Mount Vesuvius in March of 1944, destroying the villages of San Sebastiano al Vessuvio, Massa di Somma, Ottaviano and part of San Girogio a Cremano.

To view a video of the the Eruption of 1944 as recorded and published in an original Newsreel CLICK HERE.

The March 1944 eruption of Vesuvius, by Jack Reinhardt, B-24 tailgunner in the USAAF during WWII

The March 1944 eruption of Vesuvius, by Jack Reinhardt, B-24 tailgunner in the USAAF during WWII

How to use Vesuvianite:

Vesuvianite ranks at about a 6.5 on the MOHS scale making it ideal for cabochons when cut from opaque material and the transparent variety takes a nice facet to show the beautiful green color and fire of the stone.

Vesuvianite crystal

Vesuvianite crystal

 

It is best worn in necklaces or earrings, but can also be set for a ring. Care for the stone as you would a garnet or quartz and if it is set in a ring, be careful not to be too rough as the stone can fracture with a lot of wear and tear.

Vesuvianite beads

Vesuvianite beads

Other interesting properties of Vesuvianite:

Vesuvianite is a very “energetic” stone that can release negativity, align ones will with the heart and can help the wearer find the courage to change paths when needed.  It also helps release hidden fear, and is one of the stones considered beneficial for overall health of the wearer.

Vesuvianite pendant

Vesuvianite pendant

Wrapping it up:

Next week take another journey with us to discover the gemstone Cuprite. This multi-colored mineral with dark red crystals is a beauty! You won’t want to miss it.

Cuprite

Cuprite

Do you have any jewelry you’ve created that you’d like to share with us? Send us pictures at tips@wire-sculpture.com and they could be featured!

Resources:

 

Gem Profile by Layna Palmer

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3 Comments

  1. avatar

    beverly

    September 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    I really enjoyed viewing the news reel of the eruption in 1944 and seeing the people and how they were dealing with this natural disaster. It makes this stone so much more unique coming directly from the action of mother nature at work. This is why I love stones and the many different ways mother nature has sculpted and colored them. Is this stone hard to find? I will be looking for it in Tucson next gem show. Bebeaz

  2. avatar

    sherri casterline

    September 29, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    This was SO interesting. I really appreciate the history lesson along with the gemstone description. It makes the gemstone more meaningful and memorable. Keep up the great work.

    • avatar

      Narlene Allen

      September 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

      Thanks! We found this gemstone very interesting! We are glad you enjoyed it!

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