Mined in Alberta, Canada, ammolite was recognized
by the International Colored Gemstone Commission (ICGC) in
1981 as a new organic gemstone and is considered the rarest
gemstone in the world.
The name "ammonite" is derived from
the ancient Egyptian god named Ammon who believed these creatures
were divine. Ammon is represented in ancient literature by
the head of a ram with twisted spiral horns that are reminiscent
of an ammonites spiraled shells. Pliny the Elder, the Roman
historian, considered ammonite to be the holiest of stones
because he believed it would summon dreams of prophesy.
Ammolite is the mineralized remains of an ammonite,
the predecessor to the nautilus. This creature swam the oceans
from the Paleozoic to the end of the Cretaceous era 65 to
70 million years ago and had coiled shells with chambers that
filled with gas and provided both buoyancy and propulsion
in the water. Although fossilized ammonites are found all
over the world, supplies of the colorful iridescent gem quality
ammolite are found only in southern Alberta, Canada, and only
about 5% of this material actually yields gemstone material.
Ammolite forms from the mineralized remains of the ammonite
shell which was exposed to tectonic pressure, mineralization,
and intense heat. It is composed of 97% aragonite, 1% iron,
1% silica, and 1% trace minerals such as titanium, copper,
chromium, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, barium, silicon,
strontium, and vanadium.
It is aragonite that is responsible for the beautiful and
intense color play in the stone. The aragonite crystals form
thin scales and / or layers of various thickness and as light
hits these layers it is diffracted and exhibits the intense
reds, yellows, greens, blues and other colors of the rainbow
seen in gem quality ammolite.
Ammolite is sold in its natural form, as a doublet or as
a triplet. A triplet is made of a dark gray layer of shale
on the bottom and a cap of clear optical quartz or synthetic
spinel on top. Ammonite is extremely fragile and the top layer
protects the stone and helps to show off the brilliant color
flash while the bottom layer adds thickness and additional
protection. Most ammolite is sold in triplet form.
Natural ammolite is a 3.5 - 4 on the Mohs scale and is extremely
delicate and brittle but triplets with protective clear quartz
or spinel caps increase the hardness to 7 to 8.5, making the
stone more durable for jewelry.
Ammolite is sold in four grades according to its color and
AA - exhibits three or more brilliant sharp colors.
A+ - a stone that displays two or three bright colors.
A - exhibits two or more play of colors.
Standard - exhibits one or more distinct colors.
Folklore, Legend, and Healing Properties:
The legend of Ammolite goes back to the Blackfoot
tribe of North America. Ammolite was discovered by the native
Indians and used by them for years to ward off evil spirits.
It is believed by some Feng Shui masters that
ammolite absorbed cosmic energy from the universe and, through
the stone, it gives the owner health, wealth, and enlightenment.
Considered a high energy stone it is said to enhance the harmony,
vitality, and overall well-being of visitors and occupants
of a home. Ammonite with layers of ammolite is thought to
enhance the flow of Qi (life energy), to radiate strength,
and to alter negative energy to positive energy. It is said
that even for those that do not believe in Feng Shui, the
presence of ammolite is considered beneficial.
Students of Feng Shui believe that ammolite absorbed the
knowledge of the universe and that benefits are gained by
anyone near it. The colors of ammolite represent the harmonious
balance of fire, earth, metal, water, and wood.
Fracture: Uneven to granular
Specific gravity: About 2.70