I think it’s fair to say that chromium is the most eager to please of all the elements, using fancy trickery and flashy colors to get attention. So even though I’m not sure if it’s ‘normal’ to have such an enthusiasm for chromium, we feel like our fangirling is justified. For those who don’t know, chromium is responsible for some of the most prized colors of gemstone jewelry; emerald’s green, ruby’s red and alexandrite’s color change. Emeralds are certainly one our biggest weakness and so it’s no surprise that uvarovite is up there on our list as well. Uvarovite is the scarce, chromium-rich, green, Russian garnet that you don’t often hear about and, in our opinion, doesn’t get the love it deserves.
Uvarovite is a chromium-bearing garnet group species with the formula Ca3Cr2(SiO4)2. Discovered in 1832 by German Henri Hess who then named the mineral after Russian statesman and mineral collector Count Sergei Semenovitch Uvarov. One of the rarest garnet group minerals, uvarovite is the only consistently green garnet species with a distinctive emerald-green color. The more commonly seen and talked about green garnet varieties are tsavorite, demantoid and mali; all part of the ‘ugrandite’ grouip of calcium rich silicates colored by trace elements rather than an element in their chemical composition, which is in fact the case for uvarovite.
Uvarovite is a unique garnet species not only for its composition but its growth habits and formations which are unlike the other. Garnets generally form in larger crystal sizes allowing them to be cut and polished into transparent faceted gemstones for fine jewelry where as uvarovite’s most wide-spread habit is as tiny, emerald green, lustrous crystals densely coating a grey, rock matrix making it a druzy. The small crystals are well formed, dodecahedral crystals and catch the light to display a pretty, twinkling effect. These properties on top of the deep emerald green results in a gemstone that is simply breathtaking – from near and far. Like all druzy materials, extra care is needed when setting in gemstone jewelry, as well as cleaning and wearing them, and uvarovite is no exception even with a hardness ranking of 6.5 – 7 on MOH’s scale.
Uvarovite, possibly due to its inability to be faceted, doesn’t get a much attention compared to the rest of the garnet family. Middle-child syndrome perhaps? At Made In Earth, we’re all about celebrating the unique and extraordinary, so, naturally, uvarovite is one of our most popular garnet varieties. Bunny Bedi, owner and director at Made In Earth, has had a long history with this glittery-green gem.
“Almandine garnets have always been a staple gemstone in our collection and during this time we’ve also had a consistent flow of uvarovite in stock. Over the year’s we’ve added spessartine, hessonite and raw-matrix crystals to our garnet crystal jewelry collection but uvarovite remains top position.
“It has always been a difficult gem to get ahold of not to mention find in good quality vs. good price. This issue is one that will never go away with sources running low and higher industry demand. On my most recent buying trip I noticed a significant jump in price, but I was also pleasantly surprised to find some exquisite high-quality specimens. We’ve taken the risk to cut our own segments from these specimens to set into our jewelry. As a result, we now have a great selection of one-off uvarovite pieces in our gemstone jewelry collection.”
The multi-talented chromium along with the popular garnet family name makes for some truly exotic creations. For us, green garnet will always be uvarovite; our uvarovite rings and pendants are green, glamorous and, more importantly, SPARKLY!