Saturday, May 31, 2014

Gem of the Week: Ammolite

Ammolite, like amber and pearl, is a gemstone that isn't a stone at all. Ammolite is made from the fossilized shells of ammonites, prehistoric crustaceans. Ammolite has a beautiful iridescent color with a range of warm tones and can be found across the eastern front of the Rocky Mountains.


Ammonites were cretaceous creatures that looked rather squid-like. They thrived in the tropical sea that existed over the American Midwest in the Cretaceous period and in through the Mesozoic era. Ammonites were wiped out at the same time as the dinosaurs and, from there, their shells began to fossilize and become Ammolite.

The value of an Ammolite is determined by it's number of primary colors, the chromatic shift throughout the stone (or how the colors play across the stone), and the brightness of color. The best possible Ammonite would have all 3 primary colors plus their blends, a consistent 360 chromatic shift, and bright, uninterrupted colors.

Ammonite is a remarkably delicate gem and is usually thin and soft giving it the ability to both flake and fracture. Jewelers and stone Aficionados usually treat Ammonite with a clear resin or epoxy to ensure that neither damage happens.

Ammonite has gained its popularity through spiritualists' belief that the stone can help the wearer bring balance to their energies. Ammonite was also used by the Blackfeet Native American tribe as a talisman of good fortune.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Gem of the Week: Sapphire

Sapphires are one of the most popular gemstones worn today. They are primarily used in jewelry and have been since the ancient Greeks. The term Sapphire also includes the stone known as Ruby as they both have the same mineral composite, the only difference being the color. Sapphires have a range of colors depending on the other elements present during formation. The most common are blue, yellow, purple, orange, green, clear, gray, and black. 


The value of a sapphire is connected directly to its coloring. Blue Sapphires are ranked according to their hue quality and their secondary hues. Blue Sapphires with a green secondary hue lose their value; where as blue Sapphires with violet or purple secondary hues increase in value. 

Pink Sapphires are Sapphires who's pink-red coloring is too light to be called a Ruby. Pink Sapphires are more valuable the deeper their pink color is. Sapphires with no color are often used to substitute for diamonds in jewelry. Some Sapphires even change color under different light. 

One of the most interesting variations of Sapphire is Star Sapphire. Star Sapphire forms differently than the classic stone. Star Sapphires form with inclusions that follow the crystal structure, these inclusions form a refraction of light that looks like a six-pointed star. The effect is much like a Cat's Eye stone. 

The largest gem quality Star Sapphire is the Black Star of Queensland. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Gem of the Week: Amber

Amber is a unique gemstone in that it's not a stone at all! Amber is fossilized tree resin from trees that lived millions of years ago. Because of the natural formation, often small insects, plants, or other inclusions are found in Amber perfectly preserved.


Amber has many uses besides just jewelry. Amber has been used in ancient medicines and has been a key ingredient in perfumes. Amber has also been used in carvings and as decoration on musical instruments and weaponry.

The ancient Greeks believed that Amber was the tears of the sisters of Phaeton, a son of Helios who was killed. They transformed into Poplar trees out of mourning and there tears formed through their branches as Amber.

Amber exists in many different colors ranging from light yellow to dark orange to almost black. Amber can even come in red, green, and blue, although these colors are very rare and valuable.

Amber has a unique scent, described to be a warm musky earthy scent with a bit of honey. Amber incense was traditionally burnt during Chinese festivals. Today's amber perfumes are made synthetically or enhanced with other scents.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Gem of the Week: Malachite

Malachite is a stone deeply connected to the natural world. It's known to heal emotionally and physically and is often seen as a stone of change. It usually helps the wearer cope with changes in physical, emotional, social, or fiscal status. The stone colored with bands and swirls of light to dark green.


The name Malachite is derived from the Greek for mallow stone, as it's color matched the leaves of the mallow plant. Malachite was used as a pigment of green paint into the 1800s. Malachite has a long history of being a decorative piece and used in jewelry and architecture. One of the largest pieces of Malachite in North America was carved into a vase and given by Tsar Nicholas II of Russia to the Linda Hall Library.