There aren’t many unstudied minerals left in the world. Over the past 50 years, only one new mineral was officially recognized as a gemstone.This is a mineral of organic origin called ammolite. Ammolite was given official gemstone status by the World Jewellery Confederation in 1981. After that, its field was found in Alberta, Canada.
Formation and Properties
About 300 million years ago cephalopods called ammonites thrived in tropical seas. Their shells were covered with a layer of nacre and they looked like spiral or a ram’s horn.In ancient times, a Egyptian god, Amun, used to be portrayed with a ram’s head, that’s why the ostraceans became known later as ammonites.Some of their shells were just a few centimeters long, while others reached meters in size. Ammolite stone is fossil shells of these clams, that is why there is obvious connection between the gem’s name and the name of ostraceans. According to another version, the name comes from the Greek word ‘lithos’, which is literally translated as ‘a stone’.
Ammolite is another gemstone of organic nature like amber and pearl, so as such it is not a mineral. The chemical composition includes calcium carbonate with impurities of iron, silica and other compounds.This is a brittle stone with the hardness of 4.5’5.5 and density of 2.60’2.85. It is opaque and can only show through on thin edges. Speaking of color, yellow-red, red-green, blue-green, sometimes pink and purple specimens can be found. Iridescent specimens are considered to be the most beautiful and expensive. These are the chemical and physical properties of ammolite.
It is worth mentioning that ammolite’s iridescence is due not to the presence of colored pigments, but to interference of light with its fossilized nacreous layers. Therefore, its beauty is compared to the beauty of rainbow and tropical butterfly’s wings.
In view of high brittleness, ammolite jewelry is made in a special way, using frames and substrates to protect the gemstone from external influence.It can be destroyed by chemicals and sharp objects, so it should be kept in soft cloth. Moreover, its contact with soap, nail polish, perfume and other substances must be eliminated. The price of a piece of ammolite jewelry can reach a thousand dollars or even higher.
The main field of ammolite is located on both slopes of the Rocky Mountains in America, namely, Alberta in Canada and Montana in the USA. The gemstone specimens were occasionally found close to the Volga river, but its commercial production is not conducted there.
The magical properties of the gemstone have been known for a long time. The ancient American Indians used its power to invoke rain, since ammolite was considered to be a gemstone of water element. Hence, the amulets with the iridescent gemstone are believed to protect sailors, deep-sea divers, water facilities engineers, ameliorators and all those connected with the water in any fashion. Ammolite is also believed to bring happiness and good luck in business and help travelers find a water source.