Monday, October 31, 2011

Ametrine is the Gemstone of the Week

The name Ametrine comes from a combination of Amethyst and Citrine, which is exactly what Ametrine is. The color is the result of iron in the quartz. Ametrine colors come in bands of yellow and purple and often show and abrupt color change in the stone. This is the only stone where you can get “two” gemstones for the price of one.

There is only one basic source for Ametrine and that is the Anahi Mine in Bolivia. In the seventeenth century, this mine became famous when a Spanish conquistador received the mine as a wedding gift when he married Princess Anahi of the Ayoreos tribe. He knew the unique gemstones would find favor with the Spanish queen, and introduced Ametrine to Europe. The mine has only been commercially worked since the 1980's.
Being a member of the quartz family, it is a fairly durable gemstone. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 7. Ametrine is typically cut to give a 50/50 color split. It is popular among among gemstone cutters and carvers because of the color variations and play in the stone. Despite the fact that there is only one source for this beautiful gemstone, it is reasonably priced.

Ametrine is rarely enhanced, but if it is, it is enhanced by a heat treatment. Natural Ametrine only comes on purple and yellow, so if you see some blue-yellow or geen-yellow combinations being sold, be aware that they are synthetic, lab created stones.

It is believed that Ametrine helps achieve a balance between the spiritual world and the material one, and can enhance cooperation with others. It is alsosaid to help with headaches and backaches. It is also said that the purple part of the stone helps one visualize the future one wants, while the yellow part of the stone helps achieve those goals.

I don' thave any Ametrine to photograph and show you, and I couldn't find any photos to include that wouldn't violate somebody's copyright, so here is a link to page of Google Images for

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Opal is October's birthstone and the Gemstone of the Week

Opal is the featured gemstone this week, because it is also the birthstone for October. Often called nature's fireworks, this gemstone is composed of hydrated silica. Since the structure is not truly crystalline, it is considered a mineraloid, rather than a mineral. Opal has the same chemical composition as quartz, but has a water content between 3% and 21%, although the average water content is between 6% and 10%. Fine examples of opal can be more valuable than diamonds. It is a somewhat soft stone. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 5.5-6.5.

The internal structure of opal makes it defract light and, depending on the conditions in which it was formed, the stone can take on many colors. These colors can range from clear, white, gray, yellow, orange, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive brown and black. Red hues against black are the most rare, with white and green being the most common. The iridescent color flashes, are called opalescence, and change depending on the angle from which the stone is viewed.

Most opal is over 60 million years old, which dates it back to the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Opal has been considered a gemstone since Roman times when it was considered to be second in value only to emeralds. The name, “opal” probably comes from “upala”, the Sanskrit word for precious stone.

Opals are usually sold in one of three ways. The solid gemstone by itself, although it is usually enhanced by some type of wax treatment to protect it from drying out. Opal doublets are thin slices of opal glues to a base material such as ironstone, basalt or obsidian. The darker color backing emphasizes the play of colors in the gemstone. Opal triplets are doublets topped with a domed cap of clear quartz, resin or plastic. This protects the relatively soft stone from scratches, while magnifying the play of colors in the stone.

Opals are most commonly from Australia, but are also found in the Czech Republic, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil, and in the United States, in Nevada. In 2008, NASA also announced that they had found opal deposits on Mars.

Opal is believed to aid in the healing of eye diseases, enhance creativity, and to foster love and warmth. The ancient Romans considered the stone to be one of good fortune, while the Russians considered it to be bad luck. Queen Victoria loved opals and she and her daughters created a fashion trend for opal jewelry.
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Rough opal from a Nevada mine

The Queen's Opal weighs in at 203 carats or 41 grams.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Chalcedony is the Gemstone of the Week

Chalcedony (cal-see-doh-nee) is the name for a group of stones made of microcrystalline quartz. This just means that the quartz crystals are too small to be seen without high magnification. In the gem trade, chalcedony is usually used to describe the white, gray, light purple, or light blue translucent stones. The light blue and the light purple are the most popular colors. Chalcedony occurs in many different forms, colors and patterns and has been used in jewelry for centuries.
The varieties of Chalcedony are often named based on color. Agates are a multicolored variety of Chalcedony. Carnelian, aventurine and jaspers are also Chalcedony varieties. Chalcedony is well suited for jewelry with a hardness on the Moh scale of 6.5 to 7. It is a porous stone and is often dyed to enhance the color. The name comes from the ancient Greek town of Chalkedon in Asia Minor.

Chalcedony is found in many locations. Turkey is a good source for purple and blue stones, along with several different locations in Africa. There are also active blue and purple mines in the U.S.. It is also found in Brazil, Germany, Russia, Canada and Indonesia.
Because of the abundance and durability of Chalcedony, its usage goes back to as early as the 7th century B.C..The early Mesopotamians used it in seals and that practice was adopted by the Romans. It was also used as projectiles, knives and containers.

It is believed that Chalcedony aids in emotional balance, energy, generosity, charity and friendliness. It is also said to banish fear, depression, and touchiness. It is also thought to aid eyesight, reduce fever and stimulate creativity.

Light Blue Chalcedony