The name of this mineral means “golden stone” (from the Greek words «chysos» and «lithos»), сhrysolite is also known as “bostonite”, “dostokan”, “olivine bazaltine”, “evening emerald”, “Andalusian olivine” or “bottle stone”. In ancient times the name of “chrysolite” was applied to different gems of golden and yellowish hues, which resulted in real confusion of names. For example, “Italian сhrysolite” is actually vesuvianite, “aquamarine сhrysolite” is a variety of beryl, and “Brazilian сhrysolite” is tourmaline with a characteristic color. “Ural chrysolite” is a certain kind of demantoid (rare samples of transparent garnet-andradites of bright green color).
From the history of chrysolite
It is known that chrysolite was brought to Europe from the Crusades in the Middle Ages, and in that time it was given one more name – the “stone of the Crusaders”. There was also a new tradition: all the Catholic bishops began wearing rings with chrysolite. This stone was the most popular in the Baroque era. In the 1860-s. chrysolite was extremely popular in Paris. Some time later, this stone was fashionable during the Art Nouveau and at beginning of the 20th century. In the 1990s, rich deposits of chrysolite in India were discovered, where gemstones of high quality were found. Since then chrysolite is regaining the status of “sensation” and attracts the jewelers from all over the world.
In Egypt, there were beautiful legends telling that chrysolite hid from sunlight, that’s why it could be found only at night. The ancient Romans called this stone “evening emerald”: after the sunset yellow shades of chrysotile disappeared and a beautiful green color appeared instead. Note that in ancient Rome emeralds and chrysolites were confused in many cases. For example, the famous “Nero’s Emerald” in the Vatican, in fact, turned out to be exactly chrysolite. One of the largest collections of this stone is kept in the treasury of the Ottoman Empire, while in the Istanbul Museum of Topkapi Palace there is the “Golden Throne”, decorated with 955 chrysolites.
The structure peculiarities of chrysolite
Large crystals of chrysolite are very rare. As a rule, it is found in basalt as individual grains of 6 to 13 mm. Chrysolite in its original form, before treatment, looks like glass rounded with water (or bottle glass). Note that this stone is also found in meteorites. Tiny black spinel inclusions can be found in transparent chrysolite crystals. After being treated, these rocks show a pronounced effect of the “cat’s eye” or “moonstone”. Chrysolite is characterized by bright luster and high refractive index. The hardness of the stone may vary in different directions, which creates difficulties for jewelry processing, since not all faces will be polished the same.
Coloring of chrysolite
Chrysolite stones have green coloring, often with golden shimmering. Also chrysolite is characterized by pale, light colors. The variety of chrysolite having green color close to young grass is called demantoid. These stones are usually bright and extremely sparkly. In addition to gold, the color of chrysolite may be yellowish, pistachio, olive, brown, grass and tobacco. Under artificial light the yellowish color of the stone eventually fades and turns into pure green, that’s why chrysolites are also called “evening emeralds”. The coloring in the chrysolite stones may be uneven. The stones mined in primary deposits (underground) will have much brighter color than that of the crystals from the surface placers. There are also chrysolites of special color – “dark green chartreuse”. It is known that such a designation for the color is derived from the name of liqueur “Chartreuse”. The color of this beverage has a characteristic yellowish and green color, which results from the infusion of 113 herbs.
The use of chrysolite
Chrysolite is used for creating beautiful jewelry, accessories and interior items. Transparent and softer crystals are of great value for jewelers. Note that chrysolite is rarely used as inserts for the rings, since the stone is quite fragile and can be easily scratched. As a rule, chrysolite can be seen in such jewelry as pendants, brooches, earrings, etc. Small stones of chrysolite usually have standard cut, but large stones have unique cut. This stone looks perfect when enchased in gold. It is known that the Egyptians and the Romans used chrysolite not only for jewelry, but also for various statuettes.
Chrysolite is rather difficult to process. Due to the fact that there is a certain internal pressure in its structure, the crystal may crack. To minimize waste in mass production, the occurring cracks are “healed” using processing of colorless oils, natural or synthetic waxes without hardeners. But the surface cracks can be filled with a colorless substance with the addition of special hardeners.
Deposits of chrysolite
Chrysolite is often found together with diamonds. Chrysolite occurs near igneous rocks (kimberlites, basalts). One of the most significant chrysolite deposits is Zaberged Island (near the Red Sea). Also, this stone is mined in the USA, India, South Africa, Norway, in the Urals. In the Smithsonian Institution there are 2 most beautiful chrysolites of 310 carats (from Zaberged Island) and 287 carats (Myanmar). In 1994, chrysolite deposit was discovered in Pakistan.