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Is melanite a GREY color?

Melanite is a color that falls in the grey color spectrum. However, whether it is technically considered a “grey” color is up for debate. Melanite is a dark grayish-brown or black variety of garnet. The name “melanite” comes from the Greek word “melas” meaning black. So while melanite contains black hues, it also contains brownish-grey elements as well.

What is melanite?

As mentioned, melanite is a variety of the mineral garnet. Garnets are a group of silicate minerals that have similar crystal structures but differ in chemical composition. The most common garnet minerals are pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular, andradite, and uvarovite.

Melanite is a calcium-rich garnet that is black or very dark brown in color. It has a hardness of 6.5-7 on the Mohs scale. The chemical formula for melanite is Ca3(Fe,Ti)2(SiO4)3. It forms isometric crystals and is found in volcanic rocks such as basalt.

Some key facts about melanite:

  • Chemical composition: Calcium iron titanium silicate
  • Color: Black, dark brownish-grey
  • Hardness: 6.5-7
  • Crystal system: Cubic
  • Sources: Igneous rocks like basalt

Melanite was first described in 1835 after deposits were discovered on Mt. Vesuvius in Italy. Since then it has been found in other locales including Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico in the United States.

How dark is melanite?

The color of melanite ranges from black to dark brownish-grey. On the grayscale, it is an extremely dark color, falling between black and middle grey.

Here is a grayscale reference showing where melanite falls:

Black Charcoal grey Middle grey Silver White

As you can see, melanite is closest to black and charcoal grey in terms of depth of shade. It is significantly darker than middle grey.

Melanite vs. grey colors

Grey colors by definition are various shades of black and white. The mixture of black and white creates different grey tones. Here are some examples of common grey colors:

  • Charcoal grey – #36454f
  • Middle grey – #808080
  • Light grey – #d3d3d3

Melanite with its very dark brownish-black hue does not fit neatly into a typical “grey” classification. While it is much darker than light or middle greys, it is not a pure black either.

However, some definitions of grey are broad enough to include melanite. For example, Wikipedia defines grey as “any color between black and white.” Under this description, melanite could be considered a very dark grey, though not a typical one.

How melanite is classified

Color terminology can vary depending on the industry and context. Here are some common classifications for melanite:

  • Jewelry – Black melanite garnet
  • Mineralogy – Black andradite variety
  • Crayola crayons – Included in “Black” crayon since 1903
  • X11 colors – Listed under x11-black color names

As we can see, in mineralogy and jewelry contexts, melanite is considered a black color rather than a grey. However, in other systems like Crayola, it falls under a black label for convenience, despite not being a pure black.


In summary, while melanite contains some dark grey tones, it is generally classified as a black color rather than a true grey. The dark brownish-black color does not fit neatly into a typical grey classification.

However, because melanite falls on the black-white spectrum, one could make the argument that it qualifies as a very dark grey if using a broad definition of grey. But most color classification systems place melanite squarely into a black category due to its extreme darkness compared to lighter greys.

So in practical terms, melanite is considered a black color rather than a grey, even if one uses a loose definition of grey as any shade between black and white. The darkness of melanite aligns it more closely with black despite its slight brownish-grey tones.