A rather rare mineral, lovely blue-green grandidierite is seldom seen in gem or jewelry collections. Translucent material is sometimes cut into cabochons. Faceted pieces are very rare, but recent discoveries of transparent material may bring more to the market.
Grandidierite has a hardness of 7.5, which makes it very resistant to scratching and ideal for jewelry use. However, it also has perfect and good cleavage in two directions, which makes it challenging to cut. Of course, its scarcity has also made this a relatively little known gemstone.
Since its discovery in 1902, most gem-quality grandidierite has been translucent. Cabochons cut from this material look very attractive and may even appear jade-like. Recent discoveries of transparent material in Sri Lanka (around 2000) and a new deposit in Madagascar (2014) have resulted in beautiful, faceted gemstones.
Grandidierites appear bluer in color the more iron (Fe) they contain. A recently discovered gemstone, blue ominelite is the Fe-analogue (Fe, Mg) to grandidierite (Mg, Fe).
Grandidierites display strong trichroic pleochroism. That means they can show three different colors depending on the viewing angle: dark blue-green, colorless (sometimes very light yellow), or dark green.
While trichroism can usually help distinguish grandidierites from other gems, lazulites can occur with blue-green colors and show colorless/blue/dark blue pleochroism. They also appear cabbed and, more rarely, faceted. Nevertheless, lazulites have somewhat higher refractive indices (RI) and specific gravity (SG). Grandidierites also have greater hardness. Keep in mind that scratch tests for hardness should only be used as a last resort to identify rough. Don’t conduct this test on a finished gemstone.
Grandidierites from Madagascar may have following properties (on the lower end of the typical range):
For many years, Cap Andrahomana in southern Madagascar, the type locality, was the only well-known source of gem-quality material. A new find in Tranomaro, also near Cap Andrahomana, has produced transparent, gem-quality grandidierites.
The Kolonne region of Sri Lanka has also produced gem-quality material.
Other sources include the following:
United States: New York, Wyoming.
Algeria; Antarctica; Czech Republic; Italy; India; Malawi; Repanga Island, New Zealand; Norway; Slovakia; Suriname.
As cabochons, translucent grandidierites can range from 1 to 10 carats and up to about 1 inch in size. Much material is generally opaque.
Grandidierites have the durability to do well in any jewelry setting. However, some stones may have inclusions of crystals of other gem materials. Because of their cleavage and “brittle” tenacity, they may also have increased susceptibility to blows and chipping. For these reasons, avoid mechanical cleaning systems. Instead, use a soft brush, mild detergent, and warm water. Consult our gemstone jewelry cleaning guide for more recommendations.