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Agate

Like the rings of a tree trunk, the bands of color in a specimen of agate are varied and beautiful. Agate is a mineral of many varieties, yet all are a form of chalcedony quartz. Agate typically forms within volcanic rock or lava and develops from the outside in. Each layer is roughly parallel to the surface of the rock around it. Different varieties of agate are identified by the patterns of their bands.

Agate occurs in many different patterns and colors. Riband agate has bands that occur in straight lines when viewed in a cross-section. If these are bands of white and either black, brown, or red, the stone is known as onyx agate. Ring or eye agate has bands that form in concentric rings. When these contain green, either in the bands or throughout the stone, the stone is known as moss agate. Other varieties include white agate, fire agate, which has a color play similar to opal, and Mojave agate, which is a pale blue or grayish-blue.

White agate was though to cure insomnia. Wearing agate was believed to make a person agreeable and prudent, yet bold; to bring God’s favor; and to bring riches and the power to defeat one’s enemies.

Agate is a common mineral and is found in many places around the world. In the United States, the most prominent locations are Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

Like all varieties of quartz, agate scores 6.5-7 on the Mohs’ scale. Its surface is especially beautiful when polished to a smooth glow, and agate is often cut to display the stunning bands of color and then polished, to form bookends or other pieces for display. Agate is also lovely when cut into smooth cabochons and used in jewelry, and the many varieties of the mineral allow for a wide range of colors and styles.


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Amber

Amber offers a glimpse into a past before mankind’s footsteps ever fell upon the earth. Natural amber, 30-90 million years old, is a relic of the age of the dinosaurs. It is made of tree sap, preserved in a fossilized resin-state. The word amber gets its origin from an Arabic word that translates to anbar. Amber often contains inclusions—leaves, small insects, and other organisms—that give clues as to the flora, fauna, and environmental conditions of the prehistoric world.

Amber is found primarily in the regions surrounding the Baltic Sea. It is so plentiful that it can still be found washed up on shore of the Baltic. Baltic Gold, as it is sometimes called, was traded as currency in the time of Vikings.


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Amethyst

Adorn yourself in the color of royalty. In Ancient Japanese culture, only the royal family could wear purple. So time-consuming and expensive was it to make the purple color from berries that only the wealthiest of wealthy, the royal family, could afford it.

Leonardo da Vinci wrote that amethyst was able to quicken the intelligence and dissipate evil thoughts. Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February.

According to Greek mythology, amethyst was created by Dionysus, the God of Wine & Intoxication. Dionysus, angered by a mortal’s insult, vowed revenge on the next mortal that crossed his path. To exact his revenge, he created ferocious tigers. At the same moment, a young maiden named Amethyst was on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Diana turned young Amethyst into a statue of crystalline quartz, in order to protect her from the tigers. When Dionysus saw the beautiful statue, he wept tears of wine in remorse for his anger. His tears stained the quartz purple, creating the gem we know now as amethyst.

Amethyst, from Greek amethystos, translates as “not drunken,” and is thought to protect against the effects of alcohol. It ranges from pale lilac to deep purple, with the deepest colors considered the most valuable. Amethyst is found in many regions of the world, including South America, Africa, and Australia, which is known for deeply saturated stones sometimes called ‘black amethyst’ for their dark color.


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Aquamarine

Reminiscent of the colors of the sea, aquamarine in fact takes its name from the sea: The Latin word aqua means “water”; mare means “sea.” Aquamarine captures the hearts and imaginations of all those who wear it. Its range of color, from the palest blue to an intense sea-blue, complements almost any skin tone and eye color. The calm blues of aquamarine lend themselves to feelings of tranquility, harmony, and trust. In fact, some old traditions say aquamarine promises a happy marriage, and the woman wearing it will be blessed with wealth and great joy. It is rumored that this enchanting gem originated in a treasure chest protected by the most beautiful mermaids in all the oceans. It has been a sailor’s stone of good luck and fortune for ages.

Aquamarine is related to emerald, another well-loved gemstone. Both are members of the Beryl family, although aquamarine is generally free of inclusions. Iron is the material that gives aquamarine its color. It is a fairly hard stone, scoring a 7-8 on the Mohs’ scale. South America, Brazil in particular, is the primary source of gem-grade aquamarine. Great finds include a stone named ‘Dom Pedro.’ This stone, found in 1910, weighs 26 kg, (approximately 57lbs.), making it the single largest cut aquamarine crystal in the world.


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Blue Topaz

One theory on the origin of the word topaz is that it is derived from the Greek word topazos or topazion, meaning to seek. Blue topaz is thought to improve communication and assist in clear self-expression. It is thought to give intelligence, good looks, and long life. It is also rumored to protect the wearer from disease and sorcery. In ancient Greece, it was believed that topaz could render its wearer invisible. Topaz is said to protect against harm, and could even be used to detect poisoned food and drink by changing color near the poison.

Blue topaz occasionally exists in nature, although it is rare. Other topaz colors are put through a process called irradiation, which reveals a range of beautiful blues. Topaz is found across the globe, with colors as varied as their locations, and can be found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Russia. Topaz is a very hard gemstone, achieving a hardness of 8 on the Mohs’ scale.


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Carnelian

Carnelian (also cornelian), a rich, orange-red, translucent stone, has had an important role in the history of many cultures around the world. Its color ranges from clear orange-red to dark orange-brown and gets its name from the Latin word carne, or “flesh.” To the people of Ancient Greece and Rome, the stone was known as ‘sarduis.’ It was often used in signet rings, cameos, and intaglios.

Carnelian’s significance goes all the way back to the third millennium B.C., when it was found in the civilization of Ur. It was also one of the ancient Egyptians’ three most-used stones, along with lapis lazuli and turquoise. They believed that the goddess Isis used a carnelian amulet to protect the dead. Tibetans used it in a similar manner. Muslims call carnelian the “Mecca stone,” and in Hebrew culture, Aaron wore a carnelian on his breastplate. More recently, the German author Goethe wore a carnelian because of its mystical properties.

Carnelian is rich with spiritual and mystical significance as well. It is said to be valuable as a sleep aid or to calm and ease anxiety, and that it can bring dreams that answer questions. Goethe believed the stone could protect from evil, and bring hope, comfort, and good luck. Carnelian is also believed to stimulate curiosity and initiative and to help focus one’s attention on the present moment. It is the Zodiac birthstone for Virgo, the Hebrew and Roman birthstone for August, and the Arabic birthstone for July.

As a variety of chalcedony, carnelian is found worldwide, particularly near the surface in locales with lower temperature and pressure. Most notably, carnelian comes from India, Brazil, Uruguay, and Japan. It is also found in the United States and is the national stone of Norway and Sweden. Carnelian scores 6.5-7 on the Mohs’ scale.


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Chalcedony

The variety of quartz stone known as chalcedony (“kal-SED-uh-nee”) has been present nearly since the Dawn of Man. Aside from items such as animal skins, bones, sticks, and the like, chalcedony is the earliest known substance to be used for knives and other tools. It is no surprise that this beautiful, waxy stone worked its way to jewel status!

Chalcedony is formed from very tiny particles of quartz and occurs in many colors and patterns. Specific varieties are usually referred to by different names, such as agate (vertical bands of color), carnelian (solid reddish-orange), jasper (multicolored patterns), and onyx (horizontal bands, usually black), but they all belong to the chalcedony family.

Traditionally, the name chalcedony refers to the translucent, solid-colored varieties of any hue. The presence of different minerals determines the color. The other varieties are labeled with their individual names. Most often, chalcedony stones have a smooth finish or are carved.

The petrified forests of the southwestern United States, especially the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, feature stunning examples of how tree tissues are transformed to beautiful, colorful chalcedony.

Chalcedony is found in all fifty states, although some states are more prominent, including Alaska, Arizona, Florida, and Texas. Because it is so plentiful, it is a very affordable stone. Its hardness (7.0 on the Mohs’ scale) and durability make it easy to care for and a great choice for everyday wear.


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Citrine

Citrine is a member of the quartz family, which is the largest mineral family on the planet, making up 12% of the Earth’s crust. Citrine is formed when other quartz crystals, such as amethyst or smoky quartz are heated. In nature, this occurs near sources of volcanic activity. Beautiful crystals in golden and honey hues are evident near these heat sources. Occasionally, the crystals may heat unevenly, and only part of the crystal will turn to citrine. Such crystals are called ametrine, as they are half amethyst and half citrine. Citrine is mined primarily in Brazil, and has a hardness of 7.0 on the Mohs’ scale.

Citrine is the birthstone for people born in November, and is said to promote creativity and to eliminate the tendency for self-destruction.


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Coral
Coral

Unlike many of the materials used in jewelry, coral is not a stone. It begins as a living organism, deep in the sea. Think of the Great Barrier Reef, a coral formation more than 1800 miles long, off the coast of Australia. Alas, that is not the coral of jewelry; this coral grows in a branch-like formation rather than a reef. Its skeletal remains are used to create lovely adornments.

Like many creatures of the deep, coral has long had an aura of mystery. It has been used in jewelry for millennia, going back to the ancient Egyptians, who carved it into scarabs. During the Middle Ages, coral was carved into rosary beads and talismans to ward off evil, witches, and the devil. It was said that it lost its color if the wearer became sick. Perhaps this reputation as a protector also influenced coral’s popularity as a christening present.

During the mid-800’s, coral was set in brooches and combined with other stones. It gradually lost popularity during the Victorian era and, by about 1900, was seldom used in jewelry. After rising during the 1920’s and 1930’s and falling during the 1970’s, coral has returned to the jewelry scene in current times.

Although we often think of coral in an orangey-pink shade, it comes in a wide variety of colors. White, pink, orange, pink-spotted, and the most valuable dark red are all common. The most common shade today is a soft pink shade known as peau d’ange (angel skin).

Fossilized Coral

Corals have hard skeletons which often become fossils. These stones often are in varying shades of cream, tan, and brown, though sometimes deep orange and red are seen. They feature the beautiful lacy, spindly patterns of the original skeleton. Unlike un-fossilized coral, which is most commonly carved, fossilized coral may be shaped into a cabochon, carved into beads, or even simply polished for display.


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Crinoids

Sea lilies and feather-stars conjure images of lovely, colorful flowers drifting through the air or water. Both of these terms actually refer to crinoids, a type of marine animal most commonly seen today in its fossilized form. Many forms of crinoid are in fact extinct today, but their fossils are widespread and abundant. Over the last 440 million years, crinoids have periodically been extremely plentiful, then died out. Fossils of the stem can look like smooth mushrooms or buttons or like sturdy, ridged beads, depending on the surface of the stem being viewed. Some stems have a distinctly star-shaped cross-section that erodes over time exposed to water.

Sea lilies and feather-stars do exist today; they are similar, but sea lilies are secured to the soil by a stem, while feather-stars are free-moving. They are colorful creatures that use their many arms to gather food and steer it to their mouths.

Crinoids are part of the Echinoderms, as are echinoids such as sea urchins.

Fossilized crinoids from various eras are commonly found in the central and southeastern United States, as well as in the United Kingdom, Germany, and other places around the world. Both complete specimens and small pieces of crinoid stem (known as Indian beads or Indian money) are common.


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Cubic Zirconia

Perhaps surprisingly, cubic zirconia has been with us since the 1930’s, when it was discovered naturally-occurring at one location. Since then, it has only been found in laboratories, where it is created by technological science rather than by Nature.

Most commonly known as a substitute for diamond, cubic zirconia, or CZ, has been the primary substitute since the mid-1970’s. To the untrained eye, a colorless cubic zirconia looks just like a perfect diamond. Such a diamond would be priceless, while the cubic zirconia allows everyone to look like a million bucks . . . or more!

Despite their similar appearance, there are a few distinct differences between the two. Cubic zirconia is created with no flaws; flawless diamonds are practically non-existent. CZ’s are heavier: given two stones of the same size, the cubic zirconia will weigh about 1.6 times more than the diamond. Cubic zirconia is less hard than diamonds, scoring an 8.3 on the Mohs’ scale (compared to diamond’s 10). Finally and perhaps most interestingly, cubic zirconia is an excellent thermal insulator, while diamond is a strong thermal conductor.

Cubic zirconia is now available in a wide variety of colors, making it popular and useful as more than simply a substitute for diamonds. CZ’s are gaining popularity in their own right since they are versatile, affordable, and beautiful.


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Diamond

“He who, having pure body, always carries a diamond with sharp points, without blemish, free from all faults; that one, as long as he lives, knows each day will bear some things: happiness, prosperity, children, riches, grain, cows, and meat. He who wears such a diamond will see dangers recede from him, whether he be threatened by serpents, fire, poison, sickness, thieves, flood, or evil spirits.” This excerpt from the "Ratnapariksa" of Buddha Bhatta, a 6th-century text on gems, speaks to the Indian’s knowledge of the virtues of a diamond. In Buddhist culture, varying colors of diamonds were reserved to specific castes (classes) of people. For example, only priests and rulers were allowed to possess colorless or white diamonds, referred to as “the whitest of conch, of the lotus, or of rock crystal.” Landowners made up the next caste, and were allowed diamonds “the brown color of the eye of the hare” (perhaps a slightly reddish brown). After that came the merchant class, who could own only yellow diamonds, “the pretty nuance of a petal of a kadi.” Lastly, the lower classes could own only diamonds with “the sheen of a burnished sword,” ranging gray to black in color.

Diamonds are believed to be magical, mystical stones. Some diamonds are phosphorescent and have the ability to glow in the dark. This glow was said to be proof of the stone’s magical powers. Diamonds were thought to calm the mentally ill and to ward off devils, phantoms, and nightmares. They are supposed to impart virtue, generosity, and courage in battle. A house or garden touched at each corner with a diamond was supposed to be protected from lightning, storms, and blights.


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Dinosaur Eggs

We’ve all heard of dinosaur fossils and the amazing ability of paleontologists to reconstruct entire creatures from the remains they find. What about the dinosaurs’ eggs? What can they tell us about these intriguing creatures? Scientists are carefully examining as many specimens as they can, but the number is limited: China, in particular, considers its dinosaur eggs a national treasure and is reluctant to allow scientists to remove them from the country.

Although scientists have been able to delve inside some dinosaur eggs and learn a considerable amount about how the creatures lived and grew, not all dinosaur eggs are suitable for scientific research. Some are best suited for admiring with awe, which is where our collection comes in. Dinosaur eggs come in two basic shapes: spheroidal (think baseball) and elongated (think egg).

According to National Geographic, dinosaur eggs are found at about 199 sites worldwide, but these sites are clustered around Asia (China, Mongolia, and India), Argentina, and the Great Plains of the United States.


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Diplomystus

Diplomystus, another fish from the Green River Formation in Wyoming, was also double-scuted like Knightia. This fish, a member of the herring family, stayed near the surface and fed on smaller fish. They were most commonly between 5 and 15 inches in length but could be as small as 2 inches or as large as 26!


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Emerald

From the Greek smaragdos meaning "green stone,” emeralds have a rich history. They have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs dating back over 4,000 years. They are rumored to have been a poison antidote, a cure for epilepsy and fevers, and due to their exceptionally rich color, a panacea for poor eyes. When placed on the stomach, emeralds were said to cure stomach ailments. Wearing an emerald is said to insure loyalty and improve memory for people under the sign of Taurus.

Emeralds are the symbolization of faith, and are the symbol for immortality. Ancient people believed that emerald symbolized love and re-birth, because green has for ages been a symbol for spring. It is reported to help the wearer deal with emotional disturbances and trauma. Emerald is a major source of healing energy, promotes balance and harmony, and increases intellect and creativity.

Emerald is the most valuable form of Beryl, which is a silicate of beryllium and aluminum. The green color of the stone is produced by the presence of chromium.

The richness of the green depends on the concentration of chromium. Emeralds score a 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs’ scale.

Emeralds are rare. In top quality, they can cost more than a diamond of the same size. Such emeralds might contain some inclusions, but none that would be visible to the naked eye. The largest and finest emeralds now come from Colombia, although Zambia, Brazil, Russia, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe also supply fine emeralds.

Natural emeralds will always contain inclusions, caused by the presence of calcite, pyrite, or other minerals within the emerald.


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Extra-Terrestrial Minerals

We often cast wishes upon a shooting star, or lie awake under the night sky, huddled in a sleeping bag in the dead of winter, to catch a glimpse of a meteor shower. Such celestial displays always seem to capture our imaginations and our curiosities. It is no wonder, then, that we are fascinated by the remnants of these shows.

Meteorites

Once a meteor has broken through the earth’s atmosphere, it is called a meteorite. Most of these burn up as they race to the earth, due to the extreme heat caused by their friction. It is rare for a large meteorite to reach the earth’s surface. Those that do either are quite small or have a tremendous impact on the global climate. The largest meteorite impact crater in the United States was created at the southern tip of the Delmarva Peninsula on the Mid-Atlantic coastline 35.5 million years ago, helping to create what is now known as the Chesapeake Bay.

Tektites

From the Greek word tektos, meaning “molten,” irregular-shaped tektites are believed to be formed by the impact of meteorites. The heat generated by a meteorite burning through the earth’s atmosphere is so intense that once the meteorite slams into the earth, it instantly fuses the silica-rich ground into bits of accidental glass that can be strewn for kilometers across what is called a splash field. The pieces are thrown up into the atmosphere, and, as they fall back toward the earth, they often acquire an aerodynamic shape. While they are most often black and opaque, there exists one variety that is a beautiful, eerie green color, from an impact in Germany. This type is called Moldavite.

Moldavite

Moldavite is a form of tektite found locally in an area of Moldavia in former Czechoslovakia. It is known for its unusual green color and its relative translucence in comparison to other tektite varieties. Because of its color, it is often set into jewelry. It is occasionally cut and faceted but is most often seen with its natural shapes and textures.


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Fish Fossils
(Knightia and Diplomystus)

In addition to dinosaurs, trilobites, and ammonites, assorted fish have left behind evidence of their lives in the form of fossils. Two of these are knightia and diplomystus, both dating back to the Eocene period (55-38 million years ago).

Knightia

Knightia, the state fossil of Wyoming, was a slender and plentiful fish found in the Green River Formation. Most likely a schooling (community) fish, knightia is important as a food source for larger fish. Its own diet was largely algae, insects, and some smaller fish. The fish averaged about five inches in length but occasionally grew to about 10 inches. Knightia was double-scuted, having plates like a turtle’s running from the back of its head down its back.

Diplomystus

Diplomystus, another fish from the Green River Formation in Wyoming, was also double-scuted like Knightia. This fish, a member of the herring family, stayed near the surface and fed on smaller fish. They were most commonly between 5 and 15 inches in length but could be as small as 2 inches or as large as 26!


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Fossilized Dragonfly

Brightly-colored dragonflies have been with us for longer than you might think—at least 250 million years! They were around 100 million years before the dinosaurs and 150 million years before the birds. Of course, dragonflies were larger then; one fossil was found with a wingspan of 28 inches! Today’s dragonflies are still fairly large and can travel several miles from their home base near the water.

The dragonfly’s name comes from its jaws, which it uses to catch its prey in flight, and the fact that the dragonfly is the world’s fastest insect, able to fly up to 60 miles per hour.

The dragonfly’s slender body and permanently-outstretched wings give it a distinctive and beautiful silhouette. Fossils of dragonflies, like those in our collection, make lovely pieces for display.


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Garnet

The deep, rich red garnet was the gemstone of choice in Victorian Europe. From Latin granum meaning “grain,” garnet has been used for thousands of years.

Appearing to glow from within, garnets have been rumored to illuminate the dark. They were considered talismans that would protect their wearer from evil. In the Middle Ages, garnet was referred to as Karfunkle, a German word comparing its inner glow to the red glowing embers of a fire. According to some historians, Noah used a lantern of garnet to light his way through the darkest nights on the ark.

Garnets as jewelry have been found across the far reaches of the globe, in Ancient civilizations including the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian eras. The garnet family contains a wide range of colors, including shades of green; yellow; deep, earthy browns; and fiery orange hues. Most commonly used in jewelry are the red shades of garnet, ranging from black cherry reds to deep, raspberry tones known as rhodolite. The only color family not seen in garnet is blue.

Today, garnets are mined primarily on the African continent, but are also found in Central and South America, India, and Russia. Their hardness (7-7.5 on the Mohs’ scale) makes them an ideal gem for frequent wear.


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Gaspeite

Gaspeite is a relatively rare mineral with an apple-green color – sometimes almost neon green – that definitely makes a statement. It can contain patches of brown that add to its character.

Gaspeite was first discovered in 1966. Even with such a recent discovery, it has been said to have healing properties for heart, gall bladder, and lung problems and to reduce stress. The Aborigines reportedly carried gaspeite to bring good fortune. The stone is also thought to bring spirituality into everyday life.

Gaspeite makes lovely jewelry and has been gaining popularity, though it is not a particularly hard mineral (4.5-5 on the Mohs’ scale). It is commonly used as a cabochon set in sterling silver jewelry.

Gaspeite is only found near nickel sulfide deposits. It was first found in the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec Province, Canada, from whence it gets its name. It can also be found in Western Australia.


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Hippo Tooth Carvings

Hippopotamus means “river horse” in Greek. Of the34 teeth in an adult hippo’s mouth, only 12 are suitable for carving. The lower canines are the largest; they can measure over 2 feet long and weigh 6 pounds apiece! These teeth are taken from hippos that die of natural causes, and they go through extensive customs clearance to be exported from Hong Kong and imported to the United States. These carvings are done completely by hand.

All our hippo tooth carvings are formed by hand from authentic hippo tooth and are accompanied by our certificate of authenticity. Many of these carvings will have two small holes in the back or underside that allow a cord to be threaded through the piece. Such pieces are called Netsuke. Pronounced “net-skee,” these small carvings adorned the pouches used as pockets in traditional Japanese kimonos. Netsuke carvings date back to 17th century Japan. It was often possible to determine a person’s wealth or social status by the quality of carving on their netsuke. The style of netsuke shown in our collection is called katabori. This collection includes creatures, heroes, and villains from Japanese legends; religious figures; birds; and other animals.


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Iolite

Lovely iolite has long been more than just another pretty stone. It was invaluable to the Vikings as a navigational aid. This transparent stone has its lovely violet-blue color when cut from one direction; cutting the stone from other directions shows either a yellow-gray or light blue tone. The Vikings used this knowledge to their advantage, thin pieces of iolite as a polarizing lens and pinpointing the sun’s exact location in the sky. The name iolite comes from the Greek word ios, meaning “violet.”

Aside from its historical significance, iolite also has spiritual benefits attributed to it. Iolite is said to be a good stone for helping discover your direction in life, for healing, and for releasing discord from your life.

Fortunately for lovers of jewels, talented gem cutters know just how to cut iolite to preserve and display its beautiful violet-blue color. Its unique color makes for stunning jewelry, and it is plentiful and therefore affordable. Iolite is found predominantly in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, and Burma, but also in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Brazil. This hard gem (7-7.5 on the Mohs’ scale) is durable but should be protected from direct blows.


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Jade

More valuable than diamonds or gold. In many cultures, from the ancient Mayans to China in 3000 B.C., jade was exactly that. In China, jade has long been called yu, or “royal gem.” It was valued for its beauty, its toughness and durability, and its healing powers. Jade is still mined for jewelry in New Zealand, where the Maori people have long used “greenstone,” as they call it, to make weapons and ornaments.

Jade was so important in the Chinese dynasties that it was carved for fine objects and cult figures as well as for grave furnishings for the imperial family, in addition to its use for weapons and tools. Jade has a hardness of 6.5-7 on the Mohs’ scale.

Jade has also been considered a lucky and protective stone in many cultures. In ancient Egypt, jade was the stone of love, harmony, and inner peace. It has been said to have healing powers, particularly for the kidneys. However, all this adoration paled by comparison with jade’s significance in Asia, most notably China.

Jade actually refers to two similar but distinct minerals: nephrite and the less common, more precious jadeite. Both are correctly considered “genuine” jade, and both come in a variety of shades and colors. Nephrite tends toward dark green or gray-green but can also be white, reddish, or yellowish. Jadeite is slightly tougher and appears in the familiar green but also less commonly in white, pink, reds, blacks, browns, and violets. Both jadeite and nephrite may contain veins, blemishes, or streaks; only the highest quality jade has a consistent, even color. Their presence does not necessarily lessen the stone’s value – some patterns are highly desirable.

Different cultures value jade for different uses: in China, it is collected as an antique. In Western nations, useful objects carved from jade are popular. In recent years, jade has begun to be used more frequently in jewelry. Jade is still mined in New Zealand under strict scrutiny. It is also found in British Columbia, Canada; Wyoming and Alaska in the U.S.A.; Turkestan; and Myanmar (Burma).


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Knightia

Knightia, the state fossil of Wyoming, was a slender and plentiful fish found in the Green River Formation. Most likely a schooling (community) fish, knightia is important as a food source for larger fish. Its own diet was largely algae, insects, and some smaller fish. The fish averaged about five inches in length but occasionally grew to about 10 inches. Knightia was double-scuted, having plates like a turtle’s running from the back of its head down its back.


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Lapis Lazuli

Lapis lazuli: An exotic-sounding name for beautiful, rich-looking stone! Its name, often shortened to just lapis (LAP-iss), comes from the Latin word lapis, or “stone,” and the Persian word lazhward, meaning “blue.” Lapis is not considered a mineral because it consists of several different minerals; lapis lazuli is, to put it simply, a strikingly beautiful rock. Its deep, mystical blue is flecked with gold pyrite (known by itself as ’fool’s gold’). It is typically polished to a smooth finish rather than faceted.

In addition to its beauty, lapis has long been considered powerful. The ancient Egyptians carved it into scarabs and ground it up to use as eye makeup. It was one of the stones in Aaron’s Breastplate of Judgment. The Romans considered lapis a powerful aphrodisiac and believed it kept the body healthy and free from envy and fear. Even today, some say lapis can help depression and bring ancient wisdom. It is associated with the Zodiac sign Sagittarius.

Lapis is found in just a few places around the world. The finest comes from the Badakshan region of Afghanistan, where it has been mined since about 5000 B.C. Paler-hued lapis comes from Chile. Canada, the United States, Siberia, Russia, Burma, and Pakistan are less important sources of the beautiful blue stone.

With its beautiful luster when polished, lapis is a popular stone for jewelry. In addition to its use as a cabochon gem, lapis has been made into carvings, mosaics, boxes, and even ground up and used to give color (ultramarine) to tempera paint! Lapis is a relatively soft stone, scoring only 5-5.5 on the Mohs’ scale. Take extra care with your lapis and protect it from bumps and scratches.


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Larimar

Larimar is a rare stone with a beautiful, Caribbean blue color—very appropriate, since larimar is only found in the Dominican Republic! It was first discovered in 1916 by a Dominican priest but was not actively pursued until it was rediscovered in 1974. Larimar was named by a its re-discoverer, who named it after his daughter, Larissa, and mar, the Spanish word for “sea.”

Larimar’s color can range from pale blue to greenish-blue to the rich, clear blue of tropical waters. The darker the color, the higher the quality of the stone. Its blue tends to be streaked or marbled with lighter shades or with white. Sometimes, larimar is mistaken for turquoise because of its color. Larimar is said to provide spiritual benefits such as stress relief, the ability to view situations from a different perspective, and bringing love and healing to those who wear it. And who wouldn’t feel better wearing jewels made from such a beautiful stone?

Larimar’s beautiful color and smooth texture make it ideal for jewelry. Most larimar is set in silver, but high-quality stones may be set in gold. Larimar has a hardness of 5-7 on the Mohs’ scale—the darker blue stones are closer to 7.


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Mammoth Tusk Carvings

The wooly mammoth was one of the largest mammals ever to walk the earth. At full maturity, it could stand as high as 4 meters, or just over 13 feet, and its tusks could grow to an astounding 16 feet long. Wooly mammoths existed as recently as 4,000 years ago, although some have dated back over 1 million years. The wooly mammoth has been found across Europe, Asia, and North America. They crossed the land bridge between Siberia and Alaska and came to inhabit much of the northern hemisphere. As the last ice age fell upon the planet, the great mammoths slowly died out. Their bones and tusks can now be found in Alaska, Canada, Russia, and Siberia.

All our Mammoth Tusk carvings are hand-carved from single pieces of authentic mammoth tusk and accompanied by our certificate of authenticity. Many of these carvings have two small holes in the back or underside that allow a cord to be threaded through the piece. Such pieces are called Netsuke. Pronounced “net-skee,” these small carvings adorned the pouches used as pockets in traditional Japanese kimonos. Netsuke carvings date back to 17th century Japan. It was often possible to determine a person’s wealth or social status by the quality of carving on their netsuke. The style of netsuke shown in our collection is called katabori. This collection includes creatures, heroes, and villains from Japanese legends; religious figures; birds; and other animals.


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Marcasite

Marcasite jewelry has a distinct look. Usually fashioned with small stones inlaid in antiqued sterling silver, Marcasite jewelry frequently looks like vintage estate jewelry. In fact, Marcasite was fashionable and popular during the 1920’s and used Art Deco and Art Nouveau designs. Today’s creations use a broader range of stones and styles, while keeping the signature look of Marcasite jewelry.

Marcasite is also the name of a specific stone. The Marcasite stone itself is opaque and brassy yellow in color, though it can have a dark greenish tint. Over time, oxidation causes a deep tarnish. Marcasite’s typically deep hue gives it a subtle appearance when set in antiqued silver.

The Marcasite stone was fashionable and popular during Victorian and Georgian times. It was used as a less-expensive substitute for diamonds during these eras as well as during World War I. In Switzerland in the late 1700’s, diamonds were forbidden; there also, Marcasite was a favorite substitute.

Marcasite’s chemistry is identical to that of pyrite, though their structures are different. Yellow iron pyrite, you may recall, is known as “Fool’s Gold.” (Marcasite is white iron pyrite.)

Marcasite, whose name comes from the Arabic word markaschatsa, or fire stone, is found in many places around the world, including parts of China, England, France, Mexico, Peru, Russia, and the United States. Because it is plentiful, it is also affordable.


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Moonstone

Moonstone is the “adularia” variety of feldspar, the source of about two-thirds of the rocks on our planet. Moonstone is also known as selenite, from the Greek goddess of the moon, Selene. This is a very special variety of feldspar, however, that glows with light that changes depending of the angle of view. The stone comes in a range of colors from blue to brown to red to the translucent white known as “rainbow moonstone,” which projects light of many different hues. In times past, it was believed that there was a link between this phenomenon and the phases of the moon.

Moonstone’s special radiance comes from a phenomenon known as “adularescence.” The layers that make up the stone all receive and reflect light at different angles; when the stone is properly cut to take advantage of this, the result is the stunning, multicolored appearance we expect of rainbow moonstone.

Rainbow moonstone, which comprises the majority of the Fire and Ice collection, is said to be mystically powerful. The stone is believed to bring balance and harmony, to provide a gentle, calming energy, and to enhance creativity, compassion, endurance, and inner confidence. It is even believed to grant wishes! Moonstone is also one of the birthstones for the month of June.

Because of its translucence and its special qualities, moonstone is typically cut in smooth cabochons. Wear your moonstone proudly and often! Movement brings out the special play of color and light that makes rainbow moonstone so appealing.

Moonstone has most notably been found in Sri Lanka. However, it has also been found in Mexico; Sicily, Italy; Utah and Colorado in the United States; and many other places around the world. Moonstone scores only a 6 on the Mohs’ scale and must be treated carefully. It is possible, however, to have moonstone polished to restore its original lustre.


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Ocean Jasper

Imagine discovering a new variety of something old, even common. A new pattern, from a new and exotic place. A stone only accessible at certain times of day. A stone with a unique and beautiful color scheme: colors of the ocean, streaked and swirled with white like the foamy whitecaps of the sea. You would have found this new variety of opaque quartz on the coast of Madagascar, where it can only be gathered at low tide. You would, of course, name your new treasure ocean jasper.

We first heard about ocean jasper, also known as orbicular jasper, in 1922. However, no one found this supposed treasure until late in the century, when it was discovered once and for all off the east coast of Madagascar. Ocean jasper is an opaque variety of quartz, one of Earth’s most common minerals. Its name comes from the lovely sea-green that dominates; the green is swirled with quartz crystals, bands of white, and specks of color from trace minerals. In addition, round and oval inclusions of white or yellow add character and depth. These inclusions range in size from a millimeter to a centimeter in diameter. (These round inclusions spawned the name orbicular jasper.)

Because of its location in shallow ocean water, ocean jasper is sometimes associated with the Zodiac sign Aquarius. First and primarily found off Madagascar, the stone has also been found in Hawaii. Ocean jasper makes beautiful beads and cabochons.

Its striking patterns and swirls make it lovely all by itself. Like all quartz, ocean jasper scores 6.5-7 on the Mohs’ scale.


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Onyx

With a name derived from the Greek word onux, meaning “fingernails,” you wouldn’t imagine a stone of clear black. Long ago, so the story goes, the Greek god Cupid decided to cut the goddess Venus’ fingernails while she slept. The fates turned the clippings, which were scattered on Earth, to stone so that they would last forever. At the time, the word onux referred to similar stones of any color. Thanks to the Romans, when we say “onyx” today, we specifically mean a smooth stone of black or dark brown (called sardonyx).

Onyx is a clear, rich black that serves as a wonderful backdrop for jewels of other colors. It can have streaks of white, which can create beautiful designs on their own.

Onyx has a fine texture that makes it wonderful for carving, and if its streaks are in even layers, onyx can even be carved into cameos. It was popularly used along with rubies in Art Deco designs. In jewelry, onyx is typically carved in smooth cabochons or beads, rather than faceted shapes.

Onyx is a form of chalcedony quartz, as are amethyst and citrine. It is the “mystical” birthstone for December and the Zodiac birthstone for the sign of Leo. Onyx has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs’ scale. It does chip and scratch somewhat easily; it should be treated carefully. Onyx is found predominantly in India and South America.


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Opal

The Roman historian Pliny wrote this about opals: “There is in them a softer fire than the ruby, there is the brilliant purple of the amethyst, and the sea green of the emerald- all shining together in incredible union. Some by their splendor rival the colors of the painters, others the flame of burning sulphur or of fire quickened by oil.”

The Romans sometimes called opal Cupid Paederos (child as beautiful as love) and thought of it as a symbol of purity and hope. Opal takes its name from the Latin word upala, meaning “precious stone.”

Romans mined opal in Cervenica, Hungary, which is now Eastern Slovakia, long before it was discovered in Australia. Once Australian opals were discovered, European mines claimed the stones were undoubtedly artificial, as no Hungarian mines had produced anything nearly as brilliant as was found in Australian mines.

Today, the best opals in the world come from Australia, which supplies 95% of the world opal market. Chemically, opal is hydrated silicon dioxide, with varying amounts of water. It is because of this composition that it is a sensitive stone.

Opals should not be exposed to extreme heat or prolonged light, as either can dry out the stone and make it brittle and dull. Chemical cleaners should never be used on opals, and care should be taken to avoid impact to the stone.


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Orthoceras

Orthoceras, meaning “straight arrow,” is a stunningly beautiful fossil of a cephalopod, a creature related to the squid and the chambered nautilus. Orthoceras populated the planet about 500 million years ago; we are lucky enough to be able to find and use the parts they left behind.

Orthoceras fossils have a rich black background riddled with shiny silver and a striking iridescent presence featuring vivid pink and green. Cut or sliced and polished, they can be made into stunning jewelry. Larger specimens of stone containing orthoceras fossils can be carved into bowls and other items, or simply put on display.

Interestingly, orthoceras fossils have a spiritual following. They are said to be protective amulets, to increase one’s natural defenses and to extend one’s life expectancy.

Morocco is a primary source for orthoceras fossils.


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Pearls

In Latin, the word “pearl” translates as “unique,” proclaiming that no two pearls are identical. In Greek mythology, pearls were formed by tears of joy shed by the goddess of love, Aphrodite. In Arab legend, pearls were created by moonlight-filled dewdrops that fell into the ocean and were swallowed up by oysters. Arab culture holds a high regard for pearls, as is shown in this excerpt from the description of Paradise within their holy book, the Koran: “The stones are pearls and jacinths; the fruits of the trees are pearls and emeralds; and each person admitted to the delights of the celestial kingdom is provided with a tent of pearls, jacinths and emeralds; is crowned with pearls of incomparable luster, and is attended to by beautiful maidens resembling hidden pearls.”

Pearls have long been considered a symbol of natural beauty and wisdom. They are the only gem that requires no cutting, polishing, or other finishing. The oldest known pearl jewelry, or at least a fragment thereof, was discovered in the sarcophagus of a Persian princess, who died in 520 BC. This fragment is on display at the Louvre, in Paris.

All pearls sold today are cultured, because natural pearls are so rare and the demand for pearls is so high. The practice of culturing pearls began in the early 1900’s. A Japanese noodle-maker’s son named Kokichi Mikimoto discovered that he could implant a small piece of shell (called a nucleus) into the oyster, and the oyster would form a pearl sack that would secrete nacre to coat the nucleus, thereby creating a pearl. Today, pearl farms are abundant throughout the Asian continent, supplying an unbelievable assortment of freshwater and saltwater pearls in many shapes and colors.


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Peridot

From the Greek “peridona”, peridot translates as “giving plenty.” Native Hawaiians treasured the volcanic gemstone as tears from their Fire Goddess, Pele. Ancient Egyptians often mined peridot at night. According to legend, it was difficult to see by day, but its pale green crystals were easily visible by lantern light. Ancient Romans called peridot “evening emerald” because of its tendency to illuminate under lanterns. Peridot is said to have the ability to chase away evil spirits, a power that grows stronger if the stone is set in gold. The Shrine of the Three Magi at the Cologne Cathedral is adorned with peridots over 200 carats in weight.

Peridot can be found in Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, and Arizona in the United States; 85-90% of all peridots mined today come from Arizona. Because it is a volcanic stone, it can be found in tiny grains along the beaches of Oahu in Hawaii. Peridot is the birthstone for people born in August.


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Prehnite

Prehnite, a translucent stone with a unique, pale yellow-green color, holds the distinction of being the first stone to be named for a person. It was named for South African Colonel Hendrik von Prehn, who was governor of Cape Good Hope Province in the 1700’s. It has since been found in many locations around the world.

Mystically, prehnite is said to be a “strong” stone that fosters endurance rather than strength. It is considered useful in many kinds of psychic connections, as a healing stone, and to bring calmness and tranquility.

Although prehnite was originally discovered in South Africa, it has also been found in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Virginia in the United States; and around the world in Canada, Germany, Austria, France, Scotland, Namibia, Australia, India, and China. Prehnite scores a 6-6.5 on the Mohs’ scale.


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Quartz

Quartz is a common stone with many varieties and many uses. Some of these go by their own special names: amethyst, citrine, onyx, and ametrine are all types of quartz. The simpler varieties—including blue, green, smoky, rose, and druzy—of quartz are beautiful and versatile as well, and worth pursuing in their own right.

Quartz gets its name from one of two places: either the German word quarz or querklufertz, a Slavic word meaning “cross-veined ore.” Possibly because much quartz in clear or milky-white, the Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder believed that quartz was permanently frozen ice. It was, he reasoned, found near glaciers in the Alps, and it was often fashioned into balls to cool the hands. We know now, of course, that quartz is actually silica, an exceedingly common mineral, and that the presence of other minerals along with it can affect its color.

Blue and green quartz often contain copper. Smoky quartz has a black or brown color – rare in gemstones – and is often used ornamentally as well as in jewelry. Rose quartz has a lovely, unique pink or red color from iron or titanium, making it among the most desirable varieties of quartz. It is often used ornamentally.

Druzy quartz is a little different. This variety has outward-pointing crystals that give it a rough, somewhat sparkling texture. In jewelry, at least part of this surface is generally left unpolished to highlight its unique and beautiful qualities.

Quartz is found in many places around the world, most notably Brazil and parts of the U.S., but also including Canada, Scotland, the Alps, and Uruguay. In general, quartz has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs’ scale.


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Rhodochrosite

Rhodochrosite has a beautiful and distinctive rose color that is found in no other stone. Used both ornamentally and in jewelry, this stone gives its creations a unique look. The name rhodochrosite means “rose-colored,” and the stone gets its special color from the presence of manganese. It is formed when manganese and carbonate combine with ground water and then drip from stalactites, the formations of rock that hang from the ceilings of underground caverns. Rhodochrosite has streaks and bands of various shades of this rose color; clear, single-hued gemstones can also be carved and stunningly set in fine jewelry.

Rhodochrosite has been said to bring love to the wearer, improve eyesight, and relieve past psychological issues.

Rhodochrosite’s beautiful color patterns make for striking pendants and beads. High-quality rhodochrosite is also cut into gemstones that gleam with their distinctive rosy hue. Like all stones, it should be treated carefully. It is a fairly soft stone, with a hardness of 3.5-4 on the Mohs’ scale.

Rhodochrosite is most notably found in Montana in the United States; Peru; and Argentina. The best site, however, is the Sweet Home Mine in Colorado.


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Roman Glass

In a time long past, this ancient glass was a part of everyday life. Perhaps it was a wine vessel or a bowl, or even a rich woman’s perfume bottle. About 2,000 years ago, the Romans were conquering the European continent. As they made their way across the lands, they left behind their tools and utensils.

This glass was once relatively clear and even-colored. Over the course of 2,000 years buried in the sand, heat, pressure, and minerals all lent a hand in giving this natural wonder its exquisite, multi-colored patina.

Roman Glass is found within the earth at various archaeological sites across Israel. It is an authentic, age-old relic of days long past. The Fire & Ice Roman Glass Collection is set in sterling silver or 14 karat gold, and may be complemented with gemstones.


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Ruby

From the Latin rubrum or “red,” rubies have long been regarded as symbols of freedom, charity, dignity, and divine power. The Sanskrit word for ruby, ratnaraj, translates as “King of Gemstones.” In Burma, a major source of rubies, older generations believed that rubies ripened like fruit and should be ‘picked’ at just the right time to ensure a perfect gem. It was believed that the deeper the color, the more ripe the ruby. Any flawed gems were considered to be over-ripened.

Rubies are mined in Asia, Australia, Africa, and Greenland. Most, however, are found in Myanmar (formerly Burma). The intense red color is caused by the presence of chromium. Rubies are in the corundum family along with sapphires. In fact, all colors of corundum are considered to be sapphire, with the exception of the ruby-red hues. An accurate description of the most desired ruby color is “dove-blood red.”

Along with sapphires, rubies have a hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs’ scale, making them second only to diamonds. Almost all natural rubies have flaws, whether they are fissures, inclusions, or a cloudy color. An unflawed ruby is extremely rare and can fetch a higher price than a diamond of the same size.


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Sapphire

Sapphire gets its name from the Greek word sappheiros, which translates to “blue.” Ancient Persians believed that the sky and oceans got their color from a giant blue sapphire upon which the entire world rested. The stone’s intense blue color reflected up into the heavens and down into the depths of the sea, coloring both with its pure, vibrant blues. Sapphire is rumored to impart healing and calm, to attract divine favor to the wearer, to ward off illness, and to bring peace, joy, and wisdom. It is known as the stone of prosperity. Its powers include spiritual enlightenment and inner peace. Sapphire is often considered as the guardian of innocence and bestower of truth.

While blue is the most abundant color of sapphire, the stone can range in color from yellow to green to pink or even orange with pink undertones (called Padparadsha, meaning "lotus flower”). Sapphires are found in India, Burma, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Brazil, and Africa. Their hardness is a 9 on the Mohs’ scale, making sapphire (along with ruby) the second hardest mineral in the world. Sapphire is the birthstone for September.


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Shell
Shiva Shell

Shiva shell has a luminescent white, slightly pink, or cream-colored surface, decorated by a darker spiral. Also known as Shiva Eye, this is the protective covering at the opening of the Turban snail shell. Toward the end of the snail’s natural life, the covering comes off and sinks to the sea bed. Each shell has been carefully selected and handcrafted by expert artisans.

 

Abalone

Abalone is mollusk with a single shell, round or oval-shaped with a dome near one end. Different varieties include black, flat, white, pink, red, threaded, green, pinto, and Western. These varieties range in size from 6-12 inches in length. The inside surface of the abalone shell shimmers with brilliant iridescence and is its most distinctive part. The shell itself is extremely strong due to its construction.

 

Mother-of-Pearl

Deceptively, mother-of-pearl is a product of many different mollusks, including abalone. Also known as nacre, the substance forms the lining of the mollusk’s shell. Its iridescent finish can be tinted to feature almost any color. Mother-of-pearl’s uses are almost endless: musical instrument keys, watch faces, buttons (less common today), decorative pieces, and, of course, jewelry.


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Tiger's Eye

Tiger’s eye is a form of quartz with a distinctive color palette and pattern. Its stripes of dark and light brown and yellow, and especially the gleam of golden yellow that often appears in a polished tiger’s eye stone, are similar to the pattern of a tiger’s eye; hence the name! Variations on this are tigereye, tigers-eye, and tiger eye.

Due to its similarity to the “real thing,” tiger’s eye stones were thought to be all-seeing. Roman soldiers wore tiger’s eye stones for protection in battle. Tiger’s eye has been said to relieve high blood pressure and aid with bronchial, asthma, kidney, and rheumatic ailments, and psoriasis. Mystically, tiger’s eye is believed to be a good stone for travelers and for strengthening the mind. Tiger’s eye is the planetary birthstone for Gemini and the stone for the ninth wedding anniversary.

Tiger’s eye’s beautiful color patterns make for striking pendants and beads. Like all stones, it should be treated carefully. It has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs’ scale. Tiger’s eye is usually cut in smooth cabochons to best display its striking patterns.

Tiger’s eye is most notably found in South Africa. It is also found in the U.S., Canada, China, Brazil, Namibia, India, and Burma.


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Topaz

Topaz is said to get its golden color from the glow of Ra, the mighty god of the sun. Because of this, topaz has been used as an amulet to protect against harm—if the wearer is faithful. According to legend, topaz has the power to improve eyesight and protect against enchantments. In ancient Greece, it could render its wearer invisible. Topaz was said to protect against harm, and could even be used to detect poisoned food and drink by changing color near the poison.

The most famous topaz stone is set in the Portuguese Crown and was mistaken for a diamond. The ‘Braganza Diamond,’ as it is called, is actually a 1,680 carat colorless topaz.

Topaz is found across the globe, with colors as varied as the locations, and can be found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Russia. Topaz is a very hard gemstone, achieving a hardness of 8 on the Mohs’ scale.


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Tourmaline

According to Egyptian legend, tourmaline passed through a rainbow as it journeyed from Earth’s heart up to the sun, picking up all the colors of the rainbow and earning the moniker “rainbow gemstone.” However, its actual name comes from the Singhalese , tura mali, or “stone of mixed colors.” Tourmaline occurs most often in red, green, blue, and yellow; also in pink, brown, or black; and frequently in two colors at once. All these varieties make it easy for tourmaline to suit anyone’s desire!

Each color or variety of tourmaline has a unique name: red stones are called rubellite; certain shades of green are verdelith; aqua blue tourmalines are paraiba; and so on. Some gems are cut to show both colors inherent in the original stone; often, a slice is cut and polished. Two popular combinations are “watermelon tourmaline” in pink and green, and “moor’s head” with its clear heart and black edge.

Tourmaline is valued not only for its uniqueness and beauty, but also for its healing powers. Because of all its variety, tourmaline has been said to have a powerful influence on love and friendship, helping to add stability and permanence.

Tourmalines are found in many places all over the world, most importantly Brazil, Sri Lanka, and South and West Africa. The quality, and therefore the price, of the stones vary greatly.


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Trilobite

Trilobite (“TRY-lo-bite”), whose name means three lobes, is another popular fossil. In fact, trilobites are the most famous fossil group today other than dinosaurs. There are nine different orders and over 1,500 species in this diverse group of ancient, hard-shelled arthropods–the most diverse of all the fossilized animals.

Trilobites lived from about 300 million years ago until their extinction before the dinosaurs ever walked the earth. The smallest trilobites were less than 1mm in length; the largest could be up 70 centimeters (about 27.5 inches) long!

Trilobite fossils have been popular for thousands of years. At a 15,000-year-old settlement in France, a trilobite fossil was found that had been drilled to be worn as an amulet!

Trilobite fossils have been found on all seven continents. Notable locations include Australia, Morocco, China, Canada (British Columbia), and the United States (California, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah). The fossils are valued for their scientific and historical significance and for their natural beauty. Pieces can also be used to make jewelry.


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Turquoise

Turquoise is another stone whose history goes back thousands of years and touches many civilizations around the world. Although never mined in Turkey, it gets its name from the French words pierre turquoise, or “Turkish stone.” Turkey was, of courses, an important trading city, and turquoise was among the items traded there.

Turquoise has a distinctive, lovely blue color ranging from pure sky-blue to greenish-blue. The presence of copper gives turquoise its blue hue; iron adds the green.

Turquoise often contains streaks or veins of white, gray, or black. These “spider webs” add to the character and beauty of the stone.

Turquoise has long been considered a beneficial stone. Ancient Persians believed wearing it would bring wealth. It was used on turbans to ward off the “evil eye” and as talismans decorating daggers and the like. The ancient Aztecs considered turquoise a “holy stone” and used it to decorate their masks. To Native Americans, sky-blue turquoise opened a connection between the sky and the lakes. Even continuing today, turquoise is said to help ward off a depressed life.

Turquoise is rarely faceted, most often being cut in smooth cabochons or into beads. It can fade over time and is relatively soft (5-6 on the Mohs’ scale). Thus, even high-quality stones are often given a coating of wax as a protectant. Turquoise should be protected from cosmetics, bright sunlight, and heat. Clean it periodically after wearing by polishing it with a soft cloth.

Turquoise is found in many places around the world. The most beautiful, clear sky-blue variety comes from Iran. Parts of California, Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada in the U.S. have been prolific sites, though the quality of the turquoise mined there is lesser. Other sources are Mexico, Israel, Afghanistan, and China.


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