Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Gemstone of the Week is Amazonite

The gemstone this week is Amazonite. This gemstone is a member of the microline feldspar family of minerals and ranges in shades from bluish green to yellowish green, with the bluish being the most common. It has a hardness on the Moh scale of 6, so is suitable for most jewelry. It is widely available, but not well known, so supply can meet demand and makes it a reasonably priced gemstone. It is associated as a birthstone for December.

There are a couple of theories on how Amazonite got its' name. One is that it was named after the women warriors of the Amazon tribe. Another theory is that it is named after the Amazon River even though no Amazonite is found near there, it's possible it was named for the rainforest.

Amazonite often has white lines mixed in with it and can have an uneven color distribution. If they are treated, it is with an impregnated wax or oil treatment to bring out the color and add to the shine.

Amazonite is found in Brazil, Russia, Zimbabwe, Australia, Namibia, Canada, India and in the United States in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

It is believed that this stone will calm the emotions, and empower the wearer with courage. It is also credited with enhancing creativity and self-expression. It is associated with the throat chakra and is said to be effective at aligning the heart and solar plexus chakras.

This is a picture of an Amazonite Teardrop in a necklace of mine.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Gemstone of the Week is Rhodonite

The gemstone of the week this week is Rhodonite. This beautiful pink and sometimes red gemstone is well known among collectors. The red variety can often rival ruby in the intensity of color and is the most highly prized. This rare, classic type of Rhodonite was once found in Franklin, New Jersey. The name Rhodonite comes from the Greek word, rhodos, meaning “rose colored”. It is opaque and often called Pink Marble.
It is classed as a silicate mineral and is associated with black manganese minerals, pyrite and spessartine.

The chemical make up of Rhodonite is manganese iron magnesium calcium silicate.
Rhodonite often has impurities of black manganese veins running through it in crisscrossing lines. These are called dendrites. The black against the pink gives it a nice contrast. This is the most common kind used for beads and jewelry. It is a relatively inexpensive gemstone. Rhodonite is usually not enhanced in any way expect to sometimes wax it to bring out the shine. On the Moh scale it is 5.5-6 which makes it a rather soft stone to be used in rings and things that are easily knocked or banged up against things.
During the time of the Russian Czars, Rhodonite was used in many court decorations ranging from carved pillars, sculptures, tiles and bowls. It's fairly soft nature lends itself to carving.

Rhodnite has many sources of origin. The Ural Mountains in Russia, Japan, Australia, Italy,Madagascar, Peru, Brazil and Sweden are some. Two mines, one in New South Wales, Australia, and one in Brazil still produce fabulous blood red crystals. It used to be found in the western U. S., but most of those mines found in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho are now closed.

Rhodonite is associated with the throat of fifth chakra and is sometimes called the Singer's Stone and is said to improve sound sensitivity. It is considered to be a feminine stone, like the iron fist in the velvet glove. It is also believed to help with the nervous system, and self esteem and to balance trauma.It is also thought to help achieve potential and to dispel worry.

This Rhodonite Zuni bear with Rhodonite chips, is a necklace I made.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bloodstone is the Gemstone of the Week

Bloodstone is the traditional birthstone for March and is the gemstone of the week. It is sometimes called Heliotrope which means “sun turning” in Greek. It has also been called the Martyr's Stone. It is a silicon dixoide member of the chalcedony family. The red spots are from deposits of iron oxide. The deep green color is from masses of chlorite. There are two groups of bloodstone-plasma and heliotrope. The plasma group has the dark green color with no red spots. The heliotrope group is more translucent.
On the Moh scale, it has a hardness rating of 6.5-7. Bloodstones that are used in jewelry are sometimes coated with a special polish, so it should not be exposed to harsh chemicals or strong detergents. It should also be protected from extreme temperatures and scratches.
India is the main source of Bloodstone, but it is also found in Brazil, Australia, China and Wyoming. It is a relatively inexpensive stone.

There are a lot of fake bloodstones stones on the market today. To tell a real stone from a fake, rub the stone against a piece of porcelain. If it leaves red streaks, it is real.

This stone was highly prized during the Middle Ages. It was believed that the red spots were the blood of Jesus Christ. It was often used in sculpting statues representing martyrdom. It was also believed that it could stop bleeding with the merest touch. The belief was also held that it strengthened blood purifying organs and improved circulation. It is still finely ground and used today in making traditional medicines in India.
The pictures contain some stones from my gemstone collection.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Aquamarine is the Gemstone of the Week

Since Aquamarine is my birthstone and the birthstone of those born in March, that is the gemstone for this week.

Aquamarine gets it name from the Latin words for sea and water. The colors range from pale blue to a greenish blue to a deep blue. The deeper the blue, the more valuable the stone. It is an excellent stone for any type of jewelry. On the Moh scale, it is a 7.5-8.

This stone is a member of the beryl family, which is also the family of emerald, goshenite and heliotrope. Aquamarine is the most common member of this family. Beryl is a mineral made up of beryllium aluminum silicate, a commercial source of beryllium. Unlike emeralds, aquamarines are often flawless and ones with visible flaws are rarely seen. Often, the lighter blue aquamarines are mistaken for blue topaz which is not as expensive a stone. Blue zircon is another stone it can be confused with, although aquamarine is a lighter color blue.

The bluest and most valuable stones are mined in Brazil. It is also mined in Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, Tanzania, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Ural Mountains in Russia.

The most common enhancement for Aquamarines is heat treating. This is done to the paler and more teal colored stones to permanently give a deeper blue color.

Legend has it that sailors used to wear Aquamarine to keep them safe and to ward off seasickness. It is believed to give the wearer foresight, happiness and courage. In the middle ages, it was believed that this stone would reduce the effects of poisons. It is said that this stone will work on healing nerve pain, glandular problems, toothache and it will strengthen the liver and kidneys. It is also said that it will help with depression and grief.

The photos below are Aquamarines that I have. The ring belonged to my mom. Both she and I have March birthdays. The chips are some I picked up, but haven't done anything with yet. The chips are a much deepr blue than the beads, so it's safe tosay that they are heat treated and the beads are not. The ring is old enough to be a natural blue, but I'm not sure  Here is also a link to some pictures of  rough Aquamarine. It holds as much fascination for me as the cut stones do.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Marvelous Malachite is the gemstone of the week

Malachite is that beautiful banded green stone that is very popular in jewelry and had been for centuries.

Malachite is a form of oxidized copper which is where the green color comes from. The prescence of water also affects the coloring of Malachite. More water in the copper makes it lighter and less makes it darker.  The green patina found on outdoor  copper objects is a form of Malachite.  Malachite is the chemical twin of Azurite and can form Azurite as it oxidizes.

This is a fairly soft stone. On the Moh scale it is only a 3.5 to 4. It is easily scratched and care should be taken when cleaning it. Washing it with water will remove the protective the protective polish causing it to become dull. Never use a product with ammonia to clean it, either.

The Ural Mountains in Russia used to be ta major source of Malachite. Today, most Malachite comes from Zaire. It is also found in Germany, Zambia, Australia, Arizona and Chile. France and England also have deposits of the gemstone.
Nobody is sure where the name Malachite originated, but it seems to come down to two choices.  One is the Greek word for" herb" or "green" which is "malache". The other is the Greek word "malakos" which translates as "soft" due to the softness of the stone.
This gemstone was popular with ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans for amulets and jewelry. They would also mix it with galena, grind it and make eyeshadow out of it. It was being mined in the Sinai peninsula around 4000 B.C.. It was also a popular ornamental stone in Czarist Russia where it was used to make the columns in St. Isacc's Cathedral in Leningrad.
When it comes to the metaphysical aspects of Malachite, it is said to be a protective stone. In the Middle Ages, Malachite amulets were hung over cribs to protect infants from evil. Malachite is also believed to promote inner peace, success in business and hope. It also relaxes the nervous system and calms stormy emotions. It is said that Malachite can also bring harmony into your life.

The Malachite pictured here is from my collection. Be sure to check out the Marvelous Malachite Collection I created with handcrafted jewelry by the talented artisans of ArtFire.