Archive for the ‘Gemstones’ Category

Serpentine

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Serpentine gets its name from the word ‘serpent’ because it resembles the skin of a snake.  It is sometimes called New Jade, and it occurs in a variety of colors.  Serpentine is most commonly green, although sometimes you will find brown, black, red, or white mixed in depending on the region and various other minerals with which it is found.

History and Uses

Considered an important gemstone to the Assyrians, as early as 4000 B.C. it was used in seals, cylinders, carvings, and as amulets.  Serpentine was carried in ancient Assyria to request the gods and goddesses to provide double blessings.

The 30th Chapter of the Egyptian Book of the Dead is said to be carved from a tablet of serpentine. 

The Aztecs prized all green stones and serpentine was known to be valued in their time. 

Rasputin was said to favor serpentine and requested an entire dinner set be created for him by the Czar and Czarina as a favor for saving the life of their son.

Italian peasants believed that carrying serpentine pebbles protected them from the venom of poisonous creatures. These pebbles must be in their natural state and untouched by iron, or they would lose their protective nature.

Healing Properties

Serpentine makes an exceptional meditation stone. It helps you to find inner peace. It is said to help you to feel more in control of your life and to help balance mood swings.

It is said to protect against poisonous creatures such as snakes, insects, and so forth.

Serpentine can be placed directly on the skin. It is an aid to kidney and stomach complaints, relaxes cramps and menstrual pain, and helps to release the tension.

In healing Serpentine is believed to aid the detoxification of the internal organs and the blood.
Serpentine is found in New Zealand, India, Italy, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, South Africa, Russia, Zimbabwe, Britain, Norway, England, and the United States.

Feldspar

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Feldspar refers to a group of igneous minerals, all of which are softer than quartz, having the chemical composition of aluminum silicates, containing sodium, potassium, iron, calcium, or barium or combinations of these elements.  Feldspar is found in association with all rock types, including granite, gneiss, basalt, and other crystalline rocks, and makes up about 60% of the Earth’s crust.

Pure feldspar is colorless and transparent but the mineral is commonly opaque and found in a variety of colors.  Each variety of felspar has its own properties.

The feldspar family includes Amazonite, Labradorite, Moonstone, and Sunstone.  Moonstone is a milky, bluish variety of orthoclase used as a gem, and a green variety of microcline known as amazonite, or Amazon stone, is used for jewelry and other ornamental purposes.

Uses

In addition to gemstones, feldspar has many uses.  Feldspar is used to make glass artware, dinnerware, fiberglass, and ceramic glazes and fillers.  In ceramics and glass production, feldspar is used as a flux (a material that lowers the melting temperature of another material).  Feldspar is a major component in porcelain, where it provides the high glaze and smooth-impervious surface that distinguishes it from china and makes it valuable in a range of uses, from bathroom vanities, tiles, and building tiles, to ornaments and dolls.

Healing Properties

Feldspar helps us to find unconventional and exciting ways to reach our goals.  It is a stone of creativity and creative thinking.

It assists in locating that which has been misplaced, and also in discovering and understanding previously unidentified messages from both within and outward of the self.  It is a stone helpful with self-awareness.

It can be used in the treatment of disorders associated with the skin and muscular structure.
Feldspar is found in abundance mostly in Argentina, Brazil, India, Canada, and the United States.

Obsidian

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Obsidian is an extrusive rock, which is lava that cooled quickly without forming crystals, giving it a glassy texture. 

Pure obsidian is usually dark in appearance, though the color varies depending on the presence of other trace minerals.  Iron and magnesium typically give the obsidian a dark green to brown to black color.  A very few samples are nearly colorless.  In some stones, the inclusion of small, white, radially clustered crystals produce a blotchy or snowflake pattern called Snowflake Obsidian.  In addition to other minerals, it also can contain patterns of gas bubbles remaining from the lava flow.  These bubbles can produce interesting effects such as Golden Sheen Obsidian or a Rainbow Sheen Obsidian. Inclusions of other minerals produce other patterns and characteristics.

History and Uses

Because of the lack of crystalline structure, obsidian is hard.  Blade edges can reach almost molecular thinness, leading to its ancient use as projectile points, arrowhead, and blades, as well as its modern use in surgical scalpel blades.

Obsidian was valued in Stone Age cultures because, like flint, it could be fractured to produce sharp blades or arrowheads.  It was also polished to create early mirrors.

Native American people traded obsidian throughout the Americas. Each volcano, and in some cases, each volcanic eruption produces a distinguishable type of obsidian, making it possible for archaeologists to trace the origins of a particular artifact.  Similar tracing techniques have allowed obsidian to be identified in Greece also as coming from Melos, Nisyros, or Yiali (islands in the Aegean Sea).   Obsidian cores and blades were traded great distances inland from the coast.

Healing Properties

Obsidian is truth-enhancing.  A strongly protective stone, it forms a shield against negativity. Obsidian draws out mental stress and tension and dissolves emotional blockages.

Each variety of obsidian has additional attributes.

Snowflake Obsidian – This sophistication of black and white along with the natural beauty of the snowflake pattern is enchanting.   Like being snowed-in and shut out from the outside world’s distractions, that comfort and warmth and protection that you feel inside is the sense that Snowflake Obsidan provides.  It gives a deep, enduring sense of protection and safety.

Mahogany Obsidian – Think of a fine piece of mahogany furniture, polished so that it gleams like glass.  Mahogany Obsidian has a sense of solid protection, along with an increased sense of touch.  It connects you to the earth.

Golden Sheen Obsidian – In addition to protection and safety from negativity, Golden Sheen Obsidian is excellent for gazing and finding the root of a problem.

Obsidian can be found in locations that have experienced volcanic eruptions. It has been found in Armenia, Canada, Chile, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Scotland, Argentina, and United States.

Aventurine

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Aventurine is a translucent to opaque variety of microcrystalline quartz. 
It contains small inclusions of shiny minerals that give the stones a sparkling effect known as aventurescence. Inclusions of mica will give a silverish sheen, while inclusions of hematite will give a reddish or grayish sparkle.

Aventurine ranges in color from green, peach, brown, blue, and a creamy green.   Besides its uses in jewelry, aventurine is also used for ornamental purposes like vases, bowls, and figurines.

Legends and Myths

It is interesting that the name for the stone is derived from an accident.  Sometime during the 18th century, Venetian glass workers were preparing molten glass when copper filings accidentally fell into the batch producing a glass with sparkles.  The name aventurine comes from the Italian “a ventura,” which means” by chance.”

Legends say that it is an all-purpose healer, used to reduce stress, develop confidence, imagination and improve prosperity.  One legend from ancient Tibet says that aventurine was used to improve nearsightedness and to increase the wearer’s creativity.

Healing Properties

Aventurine is used as a lucky talisman and is a popular stone for gamblers.

Although there isn’t a “d” in the word, when you see aventurine, think  “adventure.”  Think optimism.  Think bountiful.  Think practical enthusiasm.  All are ingredients for adventure.  If you long for change, then aventurine is the stone for you.  It keeps various channels open and unblocked, allowing good things to come your direction.

Aventurine is found in Brazil, India, Austria, Russia, and Tanzania.    It is a 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness.  This mineral is often mistaken for amazonite or jade.

Agate

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agateAgate is a a more translucent microcrystalline quartz that forms in concentric layers in volcanic lava rocks and other host rocks. The results are round nodule bands similar to tree trunks and may appear as eyes, scallops, or as landscapes with dendrites that look like trees.  Agate occurs in most colors including black, gray, brown, reddish, green, pink, blue, and yellow from transparent to opaque.

There are thousands of places worldwide where agate has been found.  Many of these are named for the locality, such as Botswana Agate, Montana Agate, and so forth.  Many are named because of their physical appearance, such as Moss Agate, Black Agate, Fossil Agate, and more.

Although agate is found all over the world, the most exceptional specimens come from Southern Brazil and Northern Uruguay. However, the moss agates of Colorado and Montana are equally beautiful.  Other gorgeous specimens have been found in Mexico and California.  A geode type of agate called “Thunder Egg” by Native American Indians, is found in Oregon.  Fire agates come from Mexico and Arizona.  Commercial deposits exist in China, Mexico, India, Madagascar, and the U.S. along the shores of Lake Superior.

 History and Interesting Facts

The agate is one of the oldest stones in recorded history.

The hobby of collecting bowls made of agate was popular during the Renaissance era, and this activity was responsible for the growth of the lapidary industry near Idar-Oberstein in Germany.  Although agate beds were originally found in that area, most of the local deposits were depleted in the nineteenth century and the majority of agate coming out of the shops in Idar-Oberstein today are imported from Brazil.

Many Gem and Mineral shows sponsor old-time rock hounds that bring hundreds of geodes to break open with a specially made tool that “pops” the geode open leaving the internal material undamaged.  Agate geodes can be very small (as small as a fruit seed) or very large. The largest geode ever mined was found in Brazil and weighed almost two tons.

Besides its use in jewelry, vessels, and ornamental objects, children’s marbles were once made of agate and were called “aggies” in reference to their composition.

 
Legends and Myths

Ancient civilizations believed that wearing agate would make them invisible, thus protecting them from danger.  Farmers used agates to ensure good crops. Romans wore agate to please the gods that would bring an abundant harvest. In Persia, agate was worn to confer eloquence and magicians used the crystal to divert dangerous storms. In ancient Asia, agates were used to see the future. Early Britons used the gem to prevent skin disease.  Agate talismans were worn in the Middle East to keep the blood healthy. Sucking on an agate was thought to relieve thirst. Another legend says that any person who looks upon an agate can not remain secretive and is obligated to tell the truth.

Healing Properties

This is THE stone that everyone should have for protection.  Because agate has been known and regarded around the world for centuries, its beneficial and healing properties are diverse and almost innumerable.  The properties of each agate depends to some extent on the color and composition of the agate, but all agates have certain things in common.

Agate’s most noticable properties overall are balancing yin/yang energy, courage, protection, healing, and calming.

Artists and writers have used agate to enhance creativity.

It is also known as a good luck stone.

Historically, it was placed in water for cooking or drinking to dispel sickness.

Because of the harmonizing qualities of agate, and its emotional energies of removing and releasing negative energies, it is also considered by many to be an excellent stone for helping to heal and improve enrgy in times of stress.

To see some of our agate gemstone necklaces and jewelry, click here.

Pearls

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pearlsMost pearls today are cultured.  Marine and freshwater mollusks (oysters and mussels) are collected and a small shell bead placed inside.  The mollusks are then returned to the water where they make the pearl.  Layers of calcium carbonate are secreted, coating the piece of shell, to form a spherical, oblong, or irregular-shaped pearl. 

It takes roughly 3 to 7 years for mollusks to produce a single pearl. The color of the pearl varies depending on the type of mollusk.  (The oysters and mussels that make the pearls are not related to the edible varieties of oysters and mussels.)

Most natural and cultured freshwater pearls are found in the waters of Japan, China, and the South Seas, however many are harvested along the coasts of Australia and the rivers of Austria, France, Scotland, and Ireland. Cultured freshwater pearls are also grown along the Mississippi River in the United States.

 Healing Properties of Pearls

Some healers use pearls to help balance body rhythms and hormone levels with lunar cycles, and to harmonize human beings with the natural world.  The inner glow of pearls is thought to tap inner-wisdom and nurture love.  Pearls are also believed to signify innocence and faith, stimulate spiritual transformation, and encloses you with an aura of calm and beauty.

To see some of our pearl necklaces and other jewelry, click here.

Jasper

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jasperJasper is an opaque rock of virtually any color stemming from the mineral content of the original sediments or ash. Patterns arise during the consolidation process forming flow and depositional patterns in the original silica rich sediment or volcanic ash.

Jasper exhibits combinations of patterns, such as banding from flow or depositional patterns (from water or wind), dendritic, or color variations resulting in what appear to be scenes or images, on a cut section.  Diffusion from a center produces a distinctive appearance, for example, Leopard Skin jasper, or linear banding from a fracture, as seen in Leisegang jasper.  Healed, fragmented rock produces brecciated (broken) jasper.

The classification and naming of jasper presents an enormous challenge. Terms attributed to various well-defined materials includes the geographic locality where it is found, sometimes quite restricted such as “Bruneau” (a canyon), “Lahontan” (a lake), rivers, and even individual mountains.  Many are fanciful such as “Forest Fire” or “Rainbow,” while others are descriptive such as “Autumn,” “Porcelain,” or “Dalmatian.”  A few are designated by the country of origin, such as a Brown Egyptian or Red African.

Healing Properties of Jasper

Each variety of jasper has unique properties, although jasper as a whole is always regarded as a stone that gives a sense of well-being. 

Fancy jasper is a jasper of fairly scrumptious colors: mauves, lilacs, creams, and greens.  Fancy jasper is related to whims, visions, and fantasies, especially those related to romance. 

Rainbow jasper helps us focus without overanalyzing things, such as the focused attention needed for target shooting or archery. 

Silver-leaf jasper is natural sophistication and encourages willpower.

Jasper gives one the courage to speak out and have personal independence.  Jasper helps balance the emotional energy in the body.

Leopard Skin Jasper is said to bring one what they need.  Poppy Jasper is said to help bring joy into life.

It also protects from fears in the night.  Jasper was thought to drive away evil spirits and protect against snake and spider bites.  Opalite Jasper is said to help one sleep.

Jasper is common and widely distributed, occurring chiefly as veinlets, concretions, and replacements in sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, as in the Urals, North Africa, Sicily, France, India, Venezula, and Germany.  Some varieties are color-banded, and beautiful examples of jasperized fossil wood are found in Arizona.  Jasper is also found in California, Utah, and Wyoming.

To see some of our jasper gemstone necklaces and other jewelry, click here.

Garnet

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garnetGarnets are a related group of minerals.  Members of this group include  almandine (red to violet red); spessartite (yellow, rose, or orange to reddish-brown);  pyrope (deep red);  grossular (white, yellow, yellow-green, brownish-red, orange or black);  and andradite (colorless, yellow-green, or brown to black).  The most prized garnet is an emerald green variety called demantoid and is a member of the adradite group.  Most well-known garnets are red.

The garnet is known as the stone for a successful business  and for stimulating success in business.  If your business is not as good as it should be, just put three or more garnets on your desk.

It is believed that if a garnet is put under a pillow, it will cure depression.  Garnets can be used to make a person popular and have self-esteem when worn as jewelry.  It helps protect one on trips.  Garnets bring constancy to friendships.

Healing Properties of Garnet

Garnet comes in many colors, but now we will speak only about red garnet.  The garnet is associated with the thyroid and spleen.

It helps cleanse and purify both when held over the area.  The garnet is usually held in the hand or placed on top of the head when searching or meditating on past lives.  Information that is beneficial and helpful will usually be released for the searcher.

The garnet is a stone of purity and truth, as well as a symbol of love and compassion. The information released in a search may be painful, but it will always be what the searcher needs.  The garnet will help everyone’s security level and spiritual awareness. It can also help increase the sex drive.

Currently, the world’s largest supply of garnets is the continent of Africa. In December 1996, a student in Central Australia discovered what is thought to be the largest single garnet ever found, measuring nearly one hundred feet across!  Other sources of garnet include India, Soviet Union, Brazil, and the United States.

Emerald

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emeraldThe proper name for the emerald is beryl, but there are different colors of beryl.  Emerald green is the color as well as the stone.  Most emeralds have inclusions (bubbles) in them.  If the stone has too much blue in it, it is then an aquamarine. Pink beryl is morganite, yellow beryl is golden beryl, yellow-green beryl is heliodor.  There is also a rare red beryl.

An emerald of the right shade of green can be more valuable than a diamond.

The emerald is the sacred stone of the goddess Venus.  It was thought to preserve love.  The emerald has long been the symbol of hope.  It is considered by many to be the stone of prophecy.  For some, the emerald acts as a tranquilizer for a troubled mind. The emerald is said to bring the wearer reason and wisdom. 

Healing Properties of Emerald

Emerald is used by healers to help heal the heart. 

Emerald is a stone of great harmony, wisdom, and love. Giving your lover an emerald will bring the lover closer if the giver’s motives are pure love.  The emerald can be a bridge between two people. The emerald vibrates with love.

The best emerald comes from Colombia and Brazil.  Emeralds can also be found in India, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe.

Turquoise

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turquoiseTurquoise is a stone that has been prized for many years.  Turquoise is one of the oldest protection amulets, and it was also known as a symbol of wealth in many ancient cultures.  The ancient Egyptians used turquoise in jewelry. 

Turquoise is greenish-blue or pale sky blue.  The name means “Turkish stone” as it came to Europe by way of Turkey.

Strength, protection from harm, psychic sensitivity, and connection to the spirit world are its major focus.

If given a turquoise by a loving friend, that stone would protect the wearer from negative energy and bring good fortune.  The turquoise is the symbol of friendship.  It also brings peace to the home.

This stone is a very personal and meaningful stone to one who wears it.  Turquoise takes on the characteristics of the owner.

Healing Properties of Turquoise

Neutralizes overacidity, alleviates rheumatism, gout, stomach problems, viral infections, increases growth and muscular strength, alleviates pain,  and relaxes cramps.  It contains anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effects. 

Wear on or near the solar plexus.  Use with copper to increase the power of turquoise.

Turquoise was mined more than 6,000 years ago in Sinai.  The best turquoise comes from Iran, but not much is exported now.  Much of the turquoise comes from Mexico and the United States today.