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Aquamarine Necklace by Lyse Tremblay

The Thing About Aquamarine

Accreditation Statement

There are many sources of information for minerals and gemstones and most of it is available on the internet, including the ubiquitous Wikipedia. Our technical descriptions of gemstones are drawn primarily from the Rock and Gem Guide of the Smithsonian Institute and from The Fifth Edition of Gemstones of the World, by Walter Schuman.

Aquamarine is one of the gemstones produced from the beryl group of minerals, given names according to their defining colors: aquamarine (blue-green and light blue), emerald (light green), morganite (rose pink), golden beryl (golden yellow), heliodor (yellowish-green), goshenite (colorless), bixbite (red), and bazzite (blue).

Aquamarine stones from Namibia

The name aquamarine means “seawater” and its color can range from sea-green to sky-blue. The largest deposits of aquamarine are found in Brazil which is also the location of a very fine grade of aquamarine named Santa Maria (after the name of the mine where it is found).

Aquamarine can be used to make stunning jewelry, often in combination with pearls. It is the birthstone for the month of October. Our aquamarine comes from Namibia.

And, the thing about Jade is, well, you know…

 

Enjoy other articles on our gemstones. Feel free to start a discussion and share your comments below.

Lapis Lazuli Necklace by Lyse Tremblay

The Thing About Lapis Lazuli

Accreditation Statement

There are many sources of information for minerals and gemstones and most of it is available on the internet, including the ubiquitous Wikipedia. Our technical descriptions of gemstones are drawn primarily from the Rock and Gem Guide of the Smithsonian Institute and from The Fifth Edition of Gemstones of the World, by Walter Schuman.

Lapis Lazuli stone from AfghanistanLapis Lazuli, known as the “sky stone”, is a relatively rare gemstone that has been prized since ancient times for its intense blue color. It is largely formed from the mineral lazurite, but also contains calcite (white), sodalite (blue), and pyrite (metallic yellow). It usually forms in crystalline marble as a result of contact metamorphism.

The best Lapis Lazuli is found in the limestone deposits of the Kokcha River valley of Badakhshan province in northeastern Afghanistan. Some of these mines have been worked for more than 6,000 years, the source of Lapis Lazuli for the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, as well as the later Greeks and Romans. Lapis Lazuli is also mined in the Andes Mountains of Chile and in the Lake Baikal region of Russia. Small deposits are found in Siberia, Angola, Argentina, Burma, Pakistan, Canada, India, and in the USA in California and Colorado.

Lapis Lazuli stone from AfghanistanLapis Lazuli stone from Afghanistan

Uncut, Lapis Lazuli is matt and dark blue in colour, often with golden (pyrite) inclusions and whitish marble veins. The stone’s blue colour comes from the sulphur content of the lazurite and may range from pure ultramarine to a lighter blue.

The quality of Lapis Lazuli varies widely with the best raw stones still coming from the steep Hindu Kush in the north-east of Afghanistan. The lumps of blue rock, extracted from the inhospitable mountains by blasting, are brought down into the valley in the summer months by mules.

Our Lapis Lazuli comes only from Afghanistan.

 

And, the thing about Lapis Lazuli is, well, you know…

 

BC Jade Necklace by Lyse Tremblay

The Thing About Jade

Accreditation Statement

There are many sources of information for minerals and gemstones and most of it is available on the internet, including the ubiquitous Wikipedia. Our technical descriptions of gemstones are drawn primarily from the Rock and Gem Guide of the Smithsonian Institute and from The Fifth Edition of Gemstones of the World, by Walter Schuman.

The Thing About Jade, by James B. Prudhomme

When people think of Jade they often think of those intricately carved sculptures sitting in the window display of an art store, or perched atop the mantel of a wealthy collector’s fireplace. Or they might think of that beautiful pendant they bought at the outdoor market, from a nice person who guaranteed that it was “real Jade from China.” Most people assume that Jade comes from China, or somewhere in Asia.

Well, that’s partly true. Jade has been the favored gemstone of the Chinese civilization for thousands of years. The most well-known Jade does come from Myanmar (Burma), an exotic source for the bright green “Imperial Jade” that was prized by Chinese Emperors.

But Jade is more than that: it comes from different places, and it actually refers to two distinctly different, but very similar minerals. There is Jadeite, which comes from China, Myanmar, Central America and Mexico. And, there is Nephrite, which is found in China but also comes from Canada, New Zealand, Alaska, Russia and Taiwan.

Both Jadeite and Nephrite are metamorphic rocks, formed under high pressures and low temperatures, conditions relatively rare in rock formation. They are so similar in appearance and character that they were thought to be the same rock. In fact, it was only in the late 1800s that a French gemmologist was able to classify them as separate minerals. However they are both still classified as Jade.
They both are extremely strong and durable, which makes them excellent materials for tool-making. In Neolithic times, they served the same function as steel does today. They were used to cut, chop and carve things, without losing their edge. Their beauty, coloring and durability also made them valuable for ornaments and for jewelry.

The Thing About Jade, by James B. Prudhomme

The color of Jade ranges from almost pure white, through pale, apple-green, to that deep, bright-green color that most people associate with the name. But it can also be blue-green, pink, lavender or a multitude of other rare hues. The color is largely determined by the presence of “trace elements” such as chromium, magnesium and iron. Jade’s translucence can be anywhere from entirely solid, through to opaque or to almost transparent.

So what is the “best” Jade? Well that is very much a matter of taste. While Europeans tend to like the bright- green Jadeite, the Chinese have favored both Nephrite and Jadeite at different times over their long history. Before the 1800s, the most valued was the almost white “mutton fat” Nephrite, that came from the Kingdom of Khotan, and was paid as a yearly tribute to the Chinese Imperial Court. By the mid-1800s, China’s own supplies were diminishing and new sources were found, with Burma’s bright-green Kingfisher Jadeite becoming the new favourite.

Jade was also a valued gemstone among the Mesoamerican cultures, including the Olmec, the Aztecs, and the Maya. Here too it was used both as a tool, and for ornamental purposes. The Jade of Mesoamerica is Jadeite and its only known source is in the Motagua River Valley, of Guatemala. This “Olmec” Jade is characterized by a deep blue-green color and a translucent hue with white flecking.

New Zealand is also a source for a unique Nephrite Jade known there as “pounamu”, or greenstone. This stone was prized by the Maori culture for both ornamental and utilitarian purposes.

Most people don’t know that, today, approximately 75 % of the world’s Jade comes from Canada, in northern British Columbia. This Jade is of the Nephrite variety and it was discovered by Chinese immigrants who came to Canada in the 1880s to work on the railroads. Canada’s Nephrite is becoming very popular with the Chinese and will no doubt continue to be a major source for new stones in the future.
There are quite a few gemstones on the market that are pretending to be Jade. The most common is Serpentine, but there are many others, including Prehnite, Aventurine, Garnet (“Transvaal Jade”), Chrysoprase (“Australian Jade”) and dyed Quartz (“Malaysia Jade”). While these imitators are nice stones in their own right, they are not Jade.

And, the thing about Jade is, well, you know…