By Reviewed By Andreas Zabczyk

Tashmarine, the Yellowish Green Diopside

Tashmarine is the trade name for a rare and unique gem-quality variety of brilliant yellowish-green diopside. It is one of the newest and most exciting gemstone discoveries of our time. In fact, it's being touted as the most important gemstone discovery of the 21st century. The name 'Tashmarine' is a marketing name and is not an officially recognized CIBJO varietal name, nonetheless, Tashmarine diopside is certainly distinctively different than other diopside available on the market today. The name 'Tashmarine' was trademarked by C. Gem House, a US based company, which also owns the mining rights for the only known commercial mining source located in Xinjiang, China.

Concave Cut Tashmarine Diopside Gemstone
Concave Cut Tashmarine Diopside

Tashmarine is a remarkably brilliant diopside usually found in pistachio-green, though its colors can range from light grayish-green to even, varying intensities of bluish-green. Even though the rare yellowish-green diopside was first discovered in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, most of the material we see today was sourced from the Tashmarine Mine owned by C. Gem House in China's Xinjiang Province. C. Gem House was the first to introduce the new gemstone to the world's gem markets in 2002, where it became an instant success because of its raw unenhanced beauty and natural color.

The owners of C. Gem House named Tashmarine for several interesting reasons; Tash was the nickname of their daughter Natasha. 'Tash' also means 'stone' in several Central Asian languages and is short for 'Tashkent' where Tashmarine was first discovered, and 'marine' means 'ocean' or 'sea'. For the owners of C. Gem House, it was also important that 'marine' was a word of European origin. Why? Well, they wanted to choose a name which linked Asia with Europe, because Tashkent was an important trading point on the old Silk Road between China and Europe. And since this is where Tashmarine diopside was first found, 'East meets West' seemed to be a relevant theme for its name.

Tashmarine is a non-chromium colored form of green diopside. It is uniquely colored by iron which results in lighter and brighter colors when compared to its more popular sister stone, chrome diopside. Chrome diopside is the best-known gemstone variety of diopside, and it is by far the most popular diopside used in the jewelry trade. As its name suggests, chrome diopside obtains its attractive color from chromium. With chrome diopside, its forest-green color tends to darken as its size increases, with many larger stones often appearing near-black, but with Tashmarine this is not the case. In fact, there are many Tashmarine gems weighing 40 carats or more with excellent color. Currently, there are several fine pieces of faceted Tashmarine on display in the Smithsonian Institution of Washington D.C.

Star Diopide Cabochon
Star Diopside with Magnetite Inclusions

Diopside can actually occur in a variety of colors. Other forms of gem-quality diopside include the chatoyant variety known as 'star diopside'. Star diopside is typically very dark-green to black. It is mined commercially in India, which is how it earned its nickname 'the Black Star of India'. It can also be found with cat's eye chatoyancy but asterism is more common. A blue-violet to purple colored diopside known in the trade as 'violane' is extremely rare. Violane is colored by manganese and is found only in Piedmont, Italy. It is only occasionally used as a gemstone since it is one of the rarest forms of gem-quality diopside.

Like all diopside, Tashmarine belongs to the large family of pyroxene minerals which also includes several important gemstones like jadeite, spodumene and kunzite. Tashmarine is rather soft, having a hardness of only 5 on the Mohs scale, though it is suitable for most jewelry such as earrings or pendants. When cut and polished, it has an attractive vitreous luster. Tashmarine diopside is usually faceted rather than cut en cabochon, and in many cases, it is finished with interesting cutting styles to enhance its color and maximize its brilliance.

The primary source for Tashmarine has been the Xinjiang Province of China, but it can also be found in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Yet, it seems that the production of Tashmarine has slowed down dramatically since its very recent introduction. However, this could be a ploy to strategically market the gem on its rarity. Perhaps it will be reintroduced later through controlled channels.

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