Variscite is usually green to bluish green gem, which delights because of its interesting patterns and vigorous coloring. Typically, the stone contains chromium impurities that results in an intense green. Crandallite in the gem is responsible for the yellow to white veins that criss-cross it. However, there are traces of other minerals that also show as veins, for example Goyazite, Gordonite, and possibly Wardite.
Variscrite – name, history and location
Mineralogist, Johann Friedrich August Breithaupt found and named Variscite in the Vogtland region of middle Europe in 1837.
The name stems from the old Latin, Variscia, the name of region, which now spans parts of Bavaria, Thuringia, and Saxony in Germany, and parts of the Czech Republic (Bohemia).
Already 6000 years ago, in the Neolithic period, jewelry was made using Variscite. Pearls made of Variscite were found in regions such as Brittany in France. At first they thought the gems they found was Turquoise – it turned out they were Variscite after all.
The mineral was found in other regions in Germany. Other than the Vogtland, they found evidence of the gem in the Sauerland, the Fichtel Mountain range and in Chemnitz.
Variscite and Turquoise – Beware of confusion!
Differentiate Variscit from Turquoise
Variscite is more rare than Turquoise, though still today, people mix the gems up. Despite being more rare, the price of Variscite is lower than Turquoise, which is more in demand. However, be careful when you buy Turquoise.
Typically, Variscite has a more intense green color than Turquoise, though this is not sufficient for differentiating the gems. Even experts find it hard to distinguish the two.
Variscite has a Mohs hardness of 4.5, therefore much softer than Turquoise, which is between 5 and 6 on the Mohs scale. In theory, a simple scratch test can be revealing, but why would one permanently damage a gem? Furthermore, Variscite has a low refraction index, which is usually disguised in the processing.
Variscite is soft and easily scratched
Because of the low Mohs hardness, Variscite is quite easily scratched. Jewelry made with the gem has to be handled very carefully. To clean the gem, only use gentle cleaning agents and warm water.