The Mineral vesuvianite

Green Vesuvianite Crystal Cluster

Vesuvianite is named after Mt. Vesuvius in Italy, the famous volcano where it was originally described. The term Idocrase is an older synonym not commonly used anymore; it is more readily seen in old collection labels and classical reference guides. Although many habits of Vesuvianite are dull and uninteresting, there are some highly lustrous and brilliantly-colored forms of this mineral that are outstanding. Especially of note are the vividly-colored and multicolored varieties that came from the Jeffery Quarry in Asbestos, Quebec, which are stunning and classic forms of this mineral.

Chemical Formula



Brown, green, yellow. Less commonly pink, purple, orange, maroon, red, and blue. Multicolored shades of green or pink/purple and green are rare.

Crystal System



Transparent to opaque
Specific Gravity
3.3 - 3.5
Vitreous (sometimes resinous)
Conchoidal to uneven

Crystal Habits

In short prismatic crystals with rectangular cross-section, occasionally with a pointed termination and sometimes doubly terminated. Crystals may be short and stubby, and may also be elongated or pyramidal. They are less commonly pseudo-octahedral, or with termination faces that appear dodecahedral. Also columnar, radiating, acicular, grainy, compact, massive, and encrusting. Crystals are sometimes striated.

3D Crystal Atlas

Additional Information

Basic calcium magnesium aluminum silicate.
In Group
Silicates; Sorosilicates
Striking Features
Crystal habits, localities, and frequent association with Grossular Garnet.
Most often in metamorphic rocks especially in metamorphosed limestones, hornfels, skarns, and Serpentines. Less commonly in igneous rocks in pegmatites.
Rock Type
Igneous, Metamorphic

Other Names



 -   Tough, compact variety of massive Vesuvianite that can be used as an ornamental stone and resembles Jade.
 -   Chromium-rich variety of Vesuvianite with a deep green color.
 -   Blue variety of Vesuvianite which often forms as crustings and coatings. The color of Cyprine is presumed to be caused by traces of copper.
 -   Manganese-rich form of Vesuvianite with a dark red to purple color. It is classified by the IMA as an individual mineral species. It is best described from the Kalahari manganese fields of South Africa.
 -   Rare form of Vesuvianite containing the element boron its chemical structure. Wiluite was previously regarded as a variety of Vesuvianite, but is now considered a distinct mineral species by the IMA.

 -   Manganese-rich variety of Vesuvianite described from Amity, Orange Co., New York.


Vesuvianite is an important collectors mineral, and fine crystals can be very valuable. The massive, compact variety Californite is occasionally used as an ornamental stone similar to Jade.

Noteworthy Localities

Italy contains numerous localities that have produced exceptional Vesuvianite. The best of them all is Bellecombe, in the Val D'Aosta, which has produced fairly large and lustrous crystals. Several of the localities in the deep valleys in the Italian Alps have also produced excellent Vesuvianite, including Val Camonica, Val Chisone, Val D'Ala, Val D'Fassa, Val D'Susa, and Val Malencoin. The type locality after which this mineral was first described and named after is Monte Somma, Vesuvius, Italy.

Large tabular floater crystals of Vesuvianite with pseudo-octahedral form and flattened terminations come from China at Fushan, Handan, Hebei Province. Lustrous dark crystals come from Alchuri and Hachupa, in the Shigar Valley, Skardu, Pakistan. Brown and green Vesuvianite comes from Wallis, Switzerland, at Zermatt and Saas Fee. Brownish-yellow crystals, sometimes resembling Grossular are found near Lake Jaco in Sierra de Cruces, Coahuila, Mexico.

The locality associated with some of the most lustrous and colorful forms of Vesuvianite is the Jeffery Mine in Asbestos, Quebec, Canada. This locality has produced deeply colored green, pink, and purple forms, as well as beautiful multicolored examples. This mine is now closed, but the prolific amount of outstanding specimens it produced is well-noted by all good collectors. Small radiating Vesuvianite crystals come from Mont Saint-Hilaire, Quebec.

In the U.S., Vesuvianite is well-known at Crestmore, Riverside Co., California. The compact variety Californite comes from Pulga, Butte Co., California. Well-crystallized crystals come from Magnet Cove, Hot Spring Co., Arkansas; and brightly colored, lustrous crystals from the Belvidere Mountain quarries, Lowell/Eden, Orleans & Lamoille Cos., Vermont. Brown Vesuvianite comes from Joppa Hill, Amherst, Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire; and excellent dark crystals come from Maine at Sanford, York Co.; and at Casco, Cumberland Co.

The blue variety Cyprine comes from Franklin, Sussex Co., New Jersey; and from Øvstebø, Sauland, Telemark, Norway. Wiluite  is described from the Vilyui River Basin, Yakutia, Russia.

Distingushing Similar Minerals

Zircon - Harder, often fluorescent (whereas Vesuvianite lacks fluorescence), and crystals usually pyramidal.
Tourmaline - Harder, forms in different crystals.
Jade - May very closely resemble the variety Californite and can be very difficult to distinguish without complex tests.
Grossular - Some forms of Vesuvianite with terminations that appear dodecahedral may be similar to Vesuvianite, though Grossular is harder and forms true dodecahedral crystals.


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