Gretchen's Precious "Gems"
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|Posted on July 13, 2017 at 5:15 PM||comments (0)|
"Apache Tears" (Tumbled Black Obsidian)
For the Apache Indians, there seemed to be no other way out. Outnumbered by the U.S. Cavalry, they faced certain defeat. However, this brave, proud tribe refused to allow themselves to be killed at the hands of the Cavalry and they rode their horses over a cliff. Their family members, upon hearing this news, cried tears which turned to black stone when hitting the ground. These small, black nodules of just one inch or less, can still be found in the volcanic areas of southwestern United States. As a tribute the legend of this infamous battle that took place in 1870, these small glass-type stones were given the name “Apache Tears.” Today, it is known as Obsidian.
Today, it is known that obsidian naturally occurs as a volcanic glass when lava from a volcano cools so rapidly that there is minimal crystal growth. While obsidian is mineral-like, it cannot be classified as a true mineral since it is not crystalline, but a glass. It is sometimes referred to as a mineraloid and has a composition similar to granite. Obsidian can be found all over the world in several countries including the U.S. and usually forms in the following environments:
• Along the edges of a lava flow (above ground)
• Along the edges of volcanic dome (above ground)
• Around the edges of a sill or dike (underground)
• Where lava contacts water (above ground)
• Where lava cools while airborne (above ground)
Obsidian is most commonly dark, or black, in appearance; however, its color may vary as a result of other impurities present. A dark brown or black hue is caused by iron and other transition elements. Very rarely, and in very few samples, the obsidian can be near colorless. Sometimes, inclusions of magnetite nanoparticles create an iridescent, rainbow-like sheen on the obsidian – this type of obsidian is called Rainbow Obsidian. As the lava flows and is quickly cooled, gas bubbles can become trapped. As the glass hardens, these bubbles create a golden sheen-like effect. This is called Sheen Obsidian. Inclusions of the mineral crystobalite have also made their way into obsidian as small, white radial clusters. This results in a blotchy or snowflake pattern – called Snowflake Obsidian. And, even still, two colors of obsidian will be swirled together in one sample. The most common color combination is black and brown which is called Mahogany Obsidian.
Snowflake Obsidian Globe
Mahogany Obsidian Horse Head
A hard and brittle stone, obsidian fractures with very sharp edges. The use of obsidian for practical purposes dates back to the Stone Age. It was used long ago as one of the first mirrors. Many different cutting and piercing tools were also fashioned out of obsidian by humans. This progressed until people discovered how to skillfully break the stone and produce various cutting tools in different shapes such as arrowheads, knives, and spears. Even today, in modern surgery, obsidian still continues to play a major role despite its “Stone Age” classification. This is because it can be used to produce a cutting edge that is thinner and sharper than even the best surgical steel.
Obsidian is also a popular stone used in jewelry and is often cut into cabochons or beads or used to manufacture tumbled stones. Sometimes they are faceted and polished into highly reflective beads. Still, many are hand-carved into elaborate design of animals, faces, or flora to wear as pendants or brooches.
Hand-Carved Black Obsidian Phoenix
Sheen Obsidian Ring
Some people today believe that obsidian is a very protective stone which is also excellent for removing negativity. It is also believed to have physical benefits as well regarding the stomach, intestines, and muscle tissue and can eliminate bacterial and viral infections as well. However, the best course of action to take is always to consult a physician in all physical matters.
A versatile stone, obsidian was probably one of the first elements to be found and even today still has many important uses in modern medicine and surgery. It also gives off a beautiful glassy shine which it makes it a beautiful ornament piece for jewelry. Its sleek, dark texture makes it a favorite among many jewelry wearers and consumers.
|Posted on July 6, 2017 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
This milky, semitransparent stone was believed by ancient Romans and Greeks to be born out of solidified rays of the moon. Its name is derived from its visual effect, caused by diffraction of light, which gives a sheen or glow much like the moon. It was associated with the lunar deities of the ancient Greeks and Romans of that time. Its ashen glow is given it the name Moonstone.
Carved Moonstone Elephant
For centuries, moonstone has been used in jewelry; in ancient civilizations and even in today’s designs. In more recent times, it was popular during the Art Nouveau period. Deposits have been found in many countries all over the world – Armenia, Australia, the Austrian Alps, Mexico, Madagascar, Myanmar, Norway, and the U.S. The most common form of moonstone is developed from the mineral adularia, named for an early mining site near Mount Adular in Switzerland. As a result, the term “adularescence,” referring to the characteristic glow of this stone, was born. However, the finest quality of moonstone hails from Sri Lanka. This particular deposit is colorlessly transparent with an eerie blue shimmer. As a result, this particular location has been mined out for some time now, which has caused a sharp price increase for this particular quality stone. Moonstone can display a considerable range of colors including yellow, gray, green, blue, peach, and pink. It can also be found in India in abundant colors of brown, green, or orange. These tend to be more affordably priced as compared to the bluish stones from Sri Lanka.
Art Nouveau Dragonfly with Moonstone Wings
Moonstone is also sometimes referred to as Opalite due to similar visual characteristics as the opal. It is actually the current gemstone of the state of Florida, although it does not naturally occur in this state. It was designated as such to commemorate the takeoffs and landings on the Moon from the Kennedy Space Center.
The alluring glow of moonstone results from the composition of microscopic layers of feldspar which scatters light to reveal the beauty that we see. While very beautiful, it is also quite soft – a 6 on the Mohs hardness scale. This means that it can be prone to stress cracking and cleaving. Due to this anomaly, necklaces, pendants, and earrings are often preferred over rings or bracelets where the stone is more vulnerable.
Moonstone Pendants Set in Sterling Silver
Believers in the metaphysical often call moonstone the Traveler’s Stone because it is believed to protect travelers at night. It is also believed to have natural calming properties and can attune to natural biological rhythms. Staying true to its name, people have also associated it with lunar mystery.
The moonstone is a very beautiful stone with a rather subdued glow that makes the viewer think of the quiet calmness of the night sky contrasted with the faint rays of light. These unique qualities make the moonstone a continued fascination that draws consumers to itself even today.
|Posted on June 28, 2017 at 4:05 PM||comments (0)|
“Emerald by day, ruby by night.” This was and is the extraordinary attribute given by gem connoisseurs for this chrysoberyl variety which possesses the rare ability to change color drastically. This attribute has been compared to that of a chameleon as the colors can be so much in contrast with each other. In fact, the transition in colors is so striking that the phenomenon itself is often called the “alexandrite effect.”
Alexandrite is named after Czar Alexander II, heir apparent to the throne in Imperial Russia, who emancipated Russia’s serfs and was assassinated in 1881. The first deposits discovered in 1830 were in the Ural Mountains of Russia. This new gem quickly garnered attention in the country because its vivid red and green hues were very much like that of the military colors of Imperial Russia at that time. Unfortunately, these exceptional deposits were short-lived and quickly became depleted. Today, most alexandrite is found in Sri Lanka, East Africa, and Brazil. Some fine-quality stones have been located in these recent deposits; however, the display of color change is less precise and the hues are muddier. Original Ural Mountain alexandrite stones can still be found set in estate jewelry pieces.
Young Alexander II, Emperor of Russia
So what defines an alexandrite stone as fine-quality? In the daylight sun or under fluorescent light, it displays a green to bluish-green color and changes to a red to purplish-red color in indoor incandescent light such as a lamp or candle flame. This fantastic display of color change is the result of the complex way the mineral absorbs light. While the main colors displayed tend to be variations of red and green, alexandrite is actually pleochroic (trichroic), meaning that it actually displays three colors which are typically green, orange, and purple-red depending upon the viewing direction or angle.
Alexandrite tends to be scarce, especially in larger sizes. Because of this, it is an expensive member of the chrysoberyl family, at times even more valuable than most gems such as rubies and diamonds. It shares classification as a June birthstone along with the pearl and moonstone. It is the third hardest natural gemstone, lying at 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Its metaphysical properties associate it with concentration and learning; and alexandrite is believed to strengthen intuition, aid creativity, and inspire imagination.
An exquisite gemstone that represented the riches of Imperial Russia during its time, alexandrite one of the rarest and mysterious gemstones in the world. It continues to dazzle viewers and consumers today with its ever-changing color contrasts.