Ammolite: The Rare, Iridescent Spellbinder of the Sea
Ammolite—the iridescent gemstone that glimmers with rainbow hues, is truly a wonder to behold. From its captivating colors to its remarkable formation, it’s no wonder that this precious stone has captured the hearts of jewelry lovers worldwide. In this blog post, we will explore the exquisite beauty of ammolite, how it’s formed, its special qualities, folklore and legends that include it, famous ammolite stones and jewelry, typical carat weight, shapes and where you can find this stunning gemstone today.
Ammolite is a rare and precious gemstone that’s formed from the fossilized shells of ancient marine creatures called ammonites. It’s believed to have been formed more than 70 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period, in what is now known as the Bearpaw Formation in southern Alberta, Canada. This location is the only known source of gem-quality ammolite, making it a rare and valuable find.
What sets ammolite apart from other gemstones is its incredible iridescence. Its surface shimmers with a spectrum of bright colors that range from green to red, blue to purple, and even gold and orange. The colors change depending on the angle of the light and the angle of the viewer, giving the gemstone a magical and ethereal quality. This iridescence is caused by the diffraction of light as it passes through the thin layers of aragonite that make up the gemstone.
Ammolite’s chemical composition is primarily made up of aragonite, the same mineral that makes up the shells of mollusks and the outer skeletons of coral. It also contains small amounts of other minerals such as calcite, quartz and pyrite. Its physical structure consists of thin, iridescent layers that are stacked on top of each other, similar to the layers of an onion. This unique structure gives ammolite a distinctive appearance that sets it apart from other gemstones.
On the Mohs scale, ammolite has a hardness of 3.5 to 4.5, making it a relatively soft gemstone. However, with proper care and handling, ammolite can be set into beautiful jewelry that will last for generations.
Ammolite was first discovered in the 1930s by an indigenous man from the Blood tribe in southern Alberta, Canada, named Stoney Nakoda. The gemstone was originally known as “iniskim,” which means “buffalo stone” in the Stoney language. It was later renamed “ammolite” by the gemstone industry in reference to the ammonite fossils from which it is formed.
Today, ammolite can be found primarily in southern Alberta, Canada, although small deposits have also been discovered in the United States, Russia and Madagascar. However, due to its rarity and unique beauty, ammolite is often considered a collector’s item and is not widely available in jewelry stores.
In terms of special meanings, ammolite is believed to have healing properties and is often used in spiritual practices such as meditation and energy healing. It’s also said to bring prosperity, abundance and good luck to its wearer.
There are many legends and folklore surrounding ammolite, particularly among indigenous communities in southern Alberta. Some stories suggest that the gemstone was created when the Great Spirit gifted the land with the colors of the rainbow. Others say that ammolite was used as a currency and was highly valued for its beauty and rarity.
Some of the most famous ammolite stones and jewelry include the “Aurora Pyramid of Hope,” which is a collection of 296 ammolite stones that weigh a total of 1,380 carats. This incredible collection is considered one of the most valuable and rarest gemstone collections in the world. Additionally, there are many stunning pieces of ammolite jewelry that have been created by skilled artisans, including rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
In terms of carat weight, ammolite is typically found in small sizes due to the rarity of the gemstone. However, larger stones do exist and can fetch high prices at auction or in the collector’s market. Ammolite is often cut into freeform shapes that highlight its iridescence, such as teardrops, ovals and triangles.
If you’re looking to add this stunning gemstone to your collection, there are several places where you can find ammolite and ammolite jewelry today. Many indigenous-owned businesses in southern Alberta sell ammolite jewelry and other indigenous art and crafts. Additionally, there are online retailers that specialize in rare and unique gemstones, including ammolite.
In conclusion, ammolite is a remarkable gemstone that has captured the hearts of jewelry lovers worldwide. Its unique iridescence, rarity and beauty make it a highly prized collector’s item, and its healing properties and spiritual significance add to its allure. Whether you're looking to add ammolite to your gemstone collection or simply admire its mesmerizing beauty, this stunning gemstone is sure to captivate you with its iridescent charm.
Photo of ammolite courtesy of Robert Weldon