Ammolite is an iridescent organic gemstone found along Alberta’s Rocky Mountains to the border of Montana. It is made of fossilized shells of prehistoric seashells, also known as ammonites. Millions of years ago, sediment, ocean water, and the Rocky Mountains helped create ammolite shell deposits.
Indigeous Canadians refer to the stone as “Buffalo Stone,” “Energy Stone,” “Spirit Stone,” or “7 Colour Prosperity.” The Blackfoot People refer to ammolite as "Iniskim" and have used it as talismans for centuries. Across many cultures and countries, the colour-changing stone is thought to have many spiritual connotations and metaphysical properties.
Ammolite jewellery got popular in the 1970’s in Canada. In 1981, the World Jewellery Confederation considered ammolite an official gemstone. Today, ammolite is Alberta’s official gemstone and is highly sought after worldwide.
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Ammolite Quality and Rarity
Ammolite comes in an array of colours and cuts. Depending on the spectrum of colours and thickness of the stone, the gem quality can change. Usually, the ammolite jewellery at Artina’s is graded by Korite’s scale of AAA, AA, A, and standard. AAA and AA stones only amount to 3-12% of Korite’s yearly production and are the most rare. The three qualities that contribute to the price of a stone are the colour, chromatic shift, and iridescene.
The rarest ammolite (AAA and AA) stones are often made up of bright, vivid colours from all angles. You can usually see at least 3 or more colours from first glance in these stones. The rarest colours ammolite produces is blue and violet. Stones with these colours are generally the most valuable and expensive. Although most ammolite stones have a multitude of colours, the most common colours are red and green.
Lower-grade ammolite pendants shot from various angles. In lower-grade ammolite, to get the full spectrum of colour, you need to rotate the jewellery.
In most ammolite stones, you’ll also see what’s referred to as “matrix lines,” or small inclusions between colours. The way the colours seamlessly “shift” also contributes to the overall quality of the stone. This is referred to as chromatic shift, and in higher-quality gems, there is a full display of colours when rotated 360 degrees.
Iridescence is dependant on the narcreous shell, layers of aragonite, and quality of polish. In other words, the quality of the polish and the state of the original stone affects the overall quality. The highest-quality stones have no foregien minerals, inclusions, or “cracked skin.” After polishing, the ammolite is only 0.1 to 0.3 millimeters thick. Most ammolite requires support from a polish or another treatment to retain its colour.
Healing Benefits of Ammolite
Ammolite is said to help connect the wearer to both the physical and spiritual enviroments. Many crystal healers believe it is a protective stone to help with challenging times. By stimulating your intuitive knowledge and grounding your spirit, ammolite can and has been used for spiritual healing in many cultures.
According to Korite, many Feng Shui masters believe that ammolite holds the knowledge of the universe. It’s vibrant colours can bring balance to the wearer while igniting creativity, energy, wisdom, intellect, and wealth. Every colour is associated with a different meaning.
How To Care For Ammolite Jewellery
Ammolite is a soft stone similar to opals. Although it’s tempting, you should avoid wearing ammolite jewellery daily. On the Mohs scale, it’s only 3.5 to 4.5, making it incredibly soft compared to most other stones.
To care for your ammolite jewellery, remember to:
- Avoid direct heat
- Direct contact with water
- Forcefult impact
- Ultrasonic cleaners
- Lotions, perfumes, and other cosmetics
When cleaning ammolite jewellery, use a microfiber cloth or have it cleaned by your local ammolite specialist. Finally, always store your jewellery in a covered box with a soft cushion.
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Where Ammolite Comes From
Around 70 to 75 million years ago, before the Rocky Mountains were fully formed by the Earth, lower Alberta was covered by a large body of water known as the Western Interior Seaway which connected the Arctic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Rainfall slid down the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains and washed sediment into the Seaway. The sediment would eventually form the Bearpaw Formation made up of shale, sandstone, and volcanic ash.
As the ammonites died, the shells would sink to the bottom of the Seaway and would be covered in bentonitic mud or shale. This is how these prehistoric shells developed such a unique colour and sheen.
Ammolite has been found in Alberta, Montana, Utah, England, Morocco, and Madagascar. However, most ammolite is mined and found in Alberta near the border of Montana. The ammolite found in this area, the Bearpaw Formation, is considered the highest quality. Gemstones from other locations are often too thin, patchy, or have a poor colour quality.
The Bearpaw Formation extends along Southern Alberta to Saskatchewan and the Montana border. The gemstone quality in this area is considered the top-rated ammolite. Most commercial ammolite mines are along the St. Mary River between the city of Magrath and Lethbridge.Also Read: Labradorite | About Labrador's Gemstone