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History & Introduction

If you are looking for a green gemstone with rich color and excellent clarity, then naturally you would prefer emerald. However, in 1988 a new find of chromium-bearing diopside was found in Russia termed as chrome diopside, the material gained popularity in the market after the Berlin Wall fall. But finally, there was a rich green gem at an affordable price - under $100 a carat in smaller sizes.

The important diopside discovery in Russia was in eastern Siberia. The color of diopside is because of chromium, the same element that gives the color to alexandrite, ruby and emerald. The color was spectacular; chrome diopside in fact glows with green. Diopside got its name from the Greek word dis, "twice", and òpsè, "face" in reference to the two ways of orienting the vertical prism.

In fact, few limitations are followed for this gem. First, chrome diopside can actually suffer from too much green - in larger sizes the tone is very bright. In larger gemstones careful cutting is required, to make the angles slightly shallow and improve brilliance and in case of small gemstones the color is bright and fresh.

The other limitation is that diopside is much softer than other green stones. It is not suitable for rings, but it is well suited for earrings and pendants, and looks stunning when it is set in gold. Diopside jewelry should be stored carefully to avoid scratches from harder stones.

Recognise - Chrome diopside is much softer as compared to tsavorite garnet and tourmaline, and using the scratch testing it is easily distinguished from other similar colored gemstones, even emerald. Chrome diopside is recognized from other minerals through its calcium magnesium silicate composition, however it is discerned from other diopsides through the occurrence of chromium. Chrome diopside is also recognized through the observance of its distinct monoclinic crystal structure that is different from tourmaline's trigonal formation, cubic crystals of tsavorite garnet and emerald's (beryl) hexagonal structure. Some of the diopside which are rare may occur with chatoyancy or asterism that is identified by its unique reflection of light.

Availability - Diopside of facetable nature is extracted from Italy, Austria, Finland, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mynamar (Burma), U.S. (New York) and China. Russia is the main source of gem, still other deposits are also present in Pakistan, Finland and Afghanistan. Violane is mainly available in Italy, and Star Diopside comes from India.

Usages - Chrome Diopside is faceted into gemstone cuts especially for earrings and pendants. Due to softness tendency it is not used for rings and bracelet purpose. Star Diopside and the purple variety Violane are faceted into cabochons mostly as collectors’ gems.

Buying Guide

Color - Chrome diopside gets its color from chromium and can display varying shadows of green. The color which in demand is a rich, deep forest green color alike tsavorite garnet and chrome tourmaline. Most valuable is the chorme with medium-dark green color. Chrome diopside owes its color to trace elements of chromium that is even the same element responsible for the green in emerald and the red in ruby.

Clarity and Lustre - Chrome diopside is frequently found in very high clarity and transparency. Some varieties of diopside are found natural that adds (star diopside), however in case of chrome diopside, additions are naturally not acceptable unless viewable only through magnification. The chrome diopside luster ranges from vitreous to dull when cut and polished.

Cut and Shape - Chrome diopside is available in various shapes and styles, but the famous cuts are faceted emerald (octagon), oval cushion and round cuts. Few of the fancy faceted shapes are trillions, hearts and pear shapes can be found, however they are rare. Almost all chrome diopside gems will be cut smaller than other gem types, naturally the weight is less than 1 carat each. Chrome diopside may be cut to en cabochon, but then it is very rare and perhaps only with lower quality material. In order to maximize brilliance and color it is facetated at shallow angles is preferred.

Treatment - There are no known official treatments or enhancements for chrome diopside. It is only of the varieties of gems that remains totally untreated in production.

Gemological Characteristics:

Chemical Formula CaMgSi2O6
Color Green, Yellow, Brown, Black
Hardness 5 – 6
Crystal System Monoclinic
Refractive Index 1.665 - 1.730
SG 3.3 - 3.5
Transparency Transparent. Star Diopside is opaque.
Double Refraction 0.028
Luster Vitreous
Cleavage 1, 2 - prismatic. May also exhibit parting in one direction.
Mineral Class Diopside


  • Green Diopside