Gem Profile- Vesuvianite
by Judy Ellis
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.
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Vesuvianite - , General Education, , 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
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Vesuvianite - , General Education, , 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
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 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.


Vesuvianite Wand
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Vesuvianite - , General Education, , Vesuvianite Wand
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.

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

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.

City of Naples with Mount Vesuvius at sunset and the crater of Vesuvius in 2012
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Vesuvianite - , General Education, , City of Naples with Mount Vesuvius at sunset
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Vesuvianite - , General Education, , The crater of Vesuvius in 2012
To view a video of the the Eruption of 1944 as recorded and published in an original Newsreel on Wikipedia see resouces below.
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Vesuvianite - , General Education, , Mt Vesuvius erupting
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.
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Vesuvianite - , General Education, , 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.
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Vesuvianite - , General Education, , 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.
Judy Ellis's Gem Profile- Vesuvianite - , General Education, , Vesuvianite pendant
Resources:

Vesuvianite & Idocrase: www.gemselect.com
Gemology of Vesuvianite: gemologyproject.com/wiki/index.php?title=Vesuvianite
Video of the the Eruption of 1944 as recorded and published in an original Newsreel: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Vesuvius_in_Eruption,_newsreel_%281944%29.ogv

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