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Diopside can be colorless but it most often a bottle green, brownish green or light green. Bright green diopside is commonly known as chrome diopside because of its chromium content. A rare blue variety known as violan may be found in Italy.

Diopside Polished
Diopside Classification
Common Name Diopside
Species Diopside
Diopside Optical Properties
Transparency Semitranslucent - Opaque
Dispersion Strength: Moderate Fire Value: 0.020
Refractive Index 1.675-1.701
Birefringence 0.024- 0.030
Optic Character Biaxial
Optic Sign Positive
Polariscope Reaction Aggregate (AGG), Doubly Refractive (DR)
Fluorescence SWUV: strong blue to bluish white
LWUV: inert to weak blue
Pleochroism Dichroic, weak to strong light green and dark green
Diopside Characteristic Physical Properties
Hardness 5.5-6
Streak White To White Green
Specific Gravity 3.220-3.400 Typical:3.290
Toughness Varies
Inclusions Black needle-like magnetite inclusions that might be magnetic, metallic like inclusions and liquid inclusions.
Luster Vitreous, Resinous
Stability Fair
Fracture Conchoidal, Uneven
Cleavage Good, in two directions
Diopside Chemistry & Crystallography
Chemical Name calcium magnesium silicate
Chemical Formula CaMgSi2O6
Crystal System Monoclinic
Chemistry Classification Silicate

Diopside Colors

  • Colorless Diopside Colorless
  • White Diopside White
  • Black Diopside Black
  • Green Diopside Green
  • Blue Diopside Blue
  • Brown Diopside Brown

Diopside Spectra

Diopside Spectra
DIOPSIDE (Green ray.)

Color due to iron. The iron band in the blue is narrow and centered at 450nm. as the vibrations of greener ray are brought in alignment by rotating the polarizing filter. The spectrum is similar to that of chrysoberyl. However, note there is less red seen compared to chrysoberyl.

Diopside Spectra
DIOPSIDE (Yellow ray.)

Color due to iron. In this more yellow ray the absorption in the blue strengthens and the band becomes wider as it's center moves to the long wave side at 460nm. Transmission in the yellow and orange increases

Diopside Spectra
DIOPSIDE (Unpolarized)

Color due to iron. This greenish yellow variety of diopside shows a strong broad iron band centered at 455nm. Plus general absorption of the red area

Jewelry Television acknowledges the significant scientific contributions of John S Harris, FGA to the study of gemstone spectra and with deep appreciation to him, acknowledges the use of his images and related notes about gemstones and their spectra in the educational materials on this website.

Alternate Names

Tashmarine(TM),Shanseres(R), Star Diopside, Cat's-Eye Diopside, Malacolite, Alalite, Violane, Chrome Diopside

Countries of Origin

Tanzania, United Republic Of; Canada; Afghanistan; Pakistan; United States of America (the); Unknown; Sri Lanka; Namibia; Russian Federation (the); Thailand; India

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Optical Phenomena

Cat's Eye

The term cat's eye, or chatoyancy, is used to describe a phenomenal optical property in gemstones, in this case diopside. The effect, when present, appears as a bright, narrow slit similar to the pupils in the eyes of your favorite feline. This phenomenon is caused by parallel fibrous or needle-like inclusions that interfere with the passage of light through the crystal, scattering and reflecting light back to the viewer as a thin line.

Cat's Eye Diopside
Cat's Eye Classification
Common Name Cat's Eye
Cat's Eye Optical Properties
Fluorescence SWUV: Inert
LWUV: possibly green
Pleochroism Dichroic, weak to strong light green or yellowish green and dark green
Cat's Eye Characteristic Physical properties
Inclusions Black needle-like magnetite inclusions that might be magnetic, metallic like inclusions and liquid inclusions.


Star diopside exhibits the optical phenomenon called asterism, a star-like pattern created on the surface of a gemstone when light encounters parallel fibrous, or needle-like, inclusions within its crystal structure. Light that strikes the inclusions within the gem reflects off of the inclusions, creating a narrow band of light. When two or more intersecting bands appear, a star pattern is formed. Depending on the crystal, the star may have four, six, or even twelve rays. When only one band forms, it is classified as a "cat's eye."

Star Diopside
Star Classification
Common Name Star
Star Optical Properties
Refractive Index 1.675-1.701
Fluorescence SWUV: Inert
LWUV: Inert
Pleochroism Unobservable
Star Characteristic Physical properties
Inclusions Black needle-like magnetite inclusions that might be magnetic, metallic like inclusions and liquid inclusions.
Tim Matthews


Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jewelry Television® (JTV), as well as a member of the company's Board of Directors. He oversees and leads all aspects of the company's powerful omni-digital retail platform that uniquely specializes in fine jewelry and gemstones. His passion for business and gemstones has led him to become a recognized expert in the field of gemology. He is a life member of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and has earned Gem-A's highest degrees, the Gemmology (FGA) and Diamond (DGA) diplomas. He is also a Graduate Gemologist (GG) of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has also completed GIA's Graduate Diplomas in Diamonds, Colored Stones and Pearls. Under his leadership, JTV has become the leader in the sourcing and selling of color gemstones and jewelry.

This page was created on June 27, 2014.

This page was last edited on October 24, 2019.