Gemstones from Russia
Russia, like Canada and Australia, is an enormous country with vast mineral reserves. All three countries have become important diamond producers. In fact, Russia is the second largest diamond producing nation in the world (after Botswana) with Russia now accounting for about 21% of the world's diamond production. Diamond mining in Russia is carried out mainly in the Sakha Republic of Northeastern Russia, near the Arctic Circle.
Russia also has important deposits of many colored gemstones. The country is especially famous for rare and exotic gems such as alexandrite and demantoid garnet. Russian emeralds are also well known for their excellent color and crystal clarity. Emerald is mined near Ekaterinburg in Russia's Ural Mountains.
Alexandrite is a rare type of chrysoberyl that contains traces of chromium, resulting in a striking color change under different lighting conditions. Typically, alexandrite has an emerald-green color in daylight but exhibits a raspberry-red color in incandescent light. Alexandrite was first discovered in Russia and was named in honor of Tsar Alexander II.
Demantoid, a rare green andradite garnet, is also closely associated with Russia, where it was first discovered in the Ural Mountains in 1853. Though demantoid garnet was later discovered in Namibia (in 1996), the Russian demantoid is recognized by its distinctive "horsetail" inclusions. Russian demantoid almost always contains inclusions of byssolite and/or chrysolite, which appear as feather-like structures that tend to curve and resemble the tail of a horse. Demantoid containing these distinctive inclusions is among the most valuable of all colored gemstones.
Though Russia has only a few gemstone varieties that can be faceted - mainly diamond, emerald, alexandrite, demantoid garnet and chrome diopside - it has a wealth of interesting opaque gemstones that have been used for jewelry and decorative objects. These include malachite, agate, jadeite, charoite, amber, seraphinite and rhodonite. The Ural Mountains also provide a variety of fine marble and granite, examples of which can be seen in the stations of the Moscow Metro.
Demantoid Horsetail Inclusion
Russia is also said to be the source of much of the hydrothermal quartz and synthetic emerald, sapphire, ruby, alexandrite and aquamarine that finds its way onto the international market. Pioneering work by the Russian Academy of Sciences to produce synthetic crystals for laser weaponry was instrumental in developing this industry.
- First Published: July-16-2010
- Last Updated: January-23-2019
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