A pile of various green gems

Quick! Name three green gemstones off the top of your head!

Here’s a guess at what you thought of: emerald, jade, agate (if specifically moss, give yourself extra points).

If you guessed something different, like green jasper or green sapphire, you get an extra point.

If you guessed a green pearl, that’s not a gemstone, and neither is amber, but’s that for another article.

This article will discuss some the rarest of the green gemstones that you’ve probably never heard of.

 

 Alexandrite

Alexandrite has to be one of the most fascinating, and is definitely one of the rarest, gemstones on the planet. It’s a variety of chrysoberyl, a common enough stone, that has the ability to change it’s color (appropriately named the “alexandrite effect”) based on the ambient lighting. Alexandrite gets its color from the large amount of chromium in its structure, allowing it to shift from green in daylight to red in incandescent light.

 

Image of gem quality enstatite

Enstatite

This is probably the least known gemstone on this list because of how rare it is. Much like alexandrite, it can change color, but that’s where the similarities end. The effect of changing color based on movement is called pleochroism, allowing enstatite to vary from green to brown based on viewing angle alone. Enstatite gets its color from trace amounts of iron, though there is an emerald color version that uses chromium instead.

Image of green gaspéite
Gaspéite

This gem gets it’s color from nickel and is, understandably, very rare. It’s a lovely color of opaque green and can be used to make jewelry or as an indicator of nickel deposits or minerals nearby. What makes it so rare is the way it’s formed. Gaspéite is formed by minerals dissolved in water seeping through the ground until it hits bedrock, a process called supergene. These minerals then build up as a layer of loose rocky material on the bedrock, called regolith. This regolith needs a lot of factors to line up just so to form, making gaspéite one of the rarest green gemstones.

Image of polished variscite
Variscite

If you have a garden or have ever worked on a farm, you’ve probably come across phosphate as a necessary thing to keep plants happy. If you have any kind of background in biology, then you know just how important phosphate is for…everything. What you probably didn’t know is that it comes in a beautiful green gemstone called variscite. It gets its color from chromium and has similar veining to turquoise, another gemstone it’s commonly confused with. It forms in rock crevices, either as nodes or crusts, making it easy to miss.

 

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