by Mary Beth Magee
Diopside's name comes from two Greek words: "di," which means two, and "opsis," which means vision. This beautiful green gem is rich in color and reasonable in price -- a seductive combination. Diopside's deep green coloring has become a popular choice since the fall of the Soviet Union opened trade routes for this import from Siberia. Diopside, with its shamrock-colored tones, often appears in Irish-themed jewelry pieces, such as diopside rings, diopside necklaces and diopside earrings, and is an affordable gem alternative to emeralds. Diopside jewelry goes with practically anything and can be worn daily
Identification: Created from calcium magnesium silicate, diopside is found primarily in a bright, bottle-green color. Some diopside has been found in other colors, including brown, blue and violet. The stone has a color so intense that it can be displeasingly dark if the stone is left too large, so many pieces of diopside jewelry incorporate smaller stones, particularly diopside rings. Chrome diopside is transparent green and is very popular in jewelry. Some diopside gems may display cat's eye lines or four-point stars. These specimens make for lovely gemstone jewelry pieces. Diopside is rated at 5.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which is relatively soft for a gem.
Geography: Chrome diopside is primarily exported from Siberia and Yakutia in Russia. The bluish-violet diopside variety, called violane, comes from Italy. India is a good source of diopside containing natural four-point stars. Other sources of diopside include Madagascar, Africa and Finland.
Cuts: You'll find diopside in a variety of cuts. Brilliant-faceted cuts are common, showing the lovely green color to full advantage in gemstone jewelry from rings to pendants. Cabochon cuts are commonly used to showcase starred specimens. Virtually any cut with fairly shallow facets is suitable for diopside.
Uses: In brilliant faceted cuts, diopside is a stand-out in pendants, brooches, earrings and rings. The smaller cut of diopside stones makes them natural additions to jewelry with other beautiful gemstones. The affordability of diopside makes it doubly attractive for any use where a green crystalline stone is desired. Diopside is not currently listed as a birthstone on modern or traditional lists, but its resemblance to emeralds and peridot makes it a great May or August birthstone option.
Care: Protect your diopside jewelry from contact with other pieces in your collection by storing it in a small box, cloth bag or separate jewelry compartment. Clean your diopside by wiping gently with a soft, damp cloth. Avoid chemical agents, which might cause damage to the stone.