THE MINERAL DIOPSIDE
Diopside is an important rock forming mineral in several metamorphic and basic to ultra basic igneous
rocks, also found in
Diopside is a part of an important solid solution series of the pyroxene group.
The series includes the minerals
(Ca, Na)(Fe, Mg, Al)(Al, Si)2
A series occurs when ions (in this case iron and magnesium) can freely substitute between each other.
Diopside is the magnesium rich end member of the series.
The diopside-hedenbergite series is analogous to the
Diopside has several varieties, including a chromium-rich gem variety called
Violan is rare blue variety found in some localities in Italy.
There is also a green "cat's eye" variety that contains minute inclusions, probably of
rutile, that reflect light in such a way as to produce a lively linear luminscence
within the crystal. Still another variety is quite dark, with included rutile needles aligned so as to produce a 4-rayed star, hence the
name star diopside. Ordinary diopside is typically white or green and can have a nice glassy luster. While the color of
chrome diopside is much brighter, many specimens of ordinary diopside are also cut for gemstones. Mineral specimens of diopside
can be very striking in appearance, and of interest to mineral collectors.
- Color is clear, white, blue, bright and pale green to yellowish or greenish brown.
- Luster is vitreous.
- Transparency crystals are transparent to translucent.
- Crystal System is monoclinic; 2/m
- Crystal Habits include short prismatic, rarely tabular crystals.
The square cross section is distinctive in the prismatic crystals.
Also compact, granular, columnar and massive.
- Cleavage is perfect in two lengthwise directions at close to right angles and a basal parting direction is sometimes seen.
- Fracture is uneven, even rough.
- Hardness is 5 - 6
- Specific Gravity is approximately 3.3 (slightly above average)
- Streak is white.
- Other Characteristics: Some specimens have been known to fluoresce and some specimens have inclusions that can form "cat's eyes" if polished in cabachon.
- Associated Minerals are
iron meteorites and
- Notable Occurrences include St. Lawrence Co., New York, USA; Ural Mountains, Russia; Mt. Vesuvius and other locallities in Italy; Austria; Germany; Sri Lanka; Brazil; Mogok, Burma; Madagascar; Kimberly, South Africa and Outokumpu, Finland.
- Best Field Indicators are crystal habit, associations, color, fracture and cleavage.