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What is Ammolite?

Posted by on 5/28/2009 to Ammolite
Today, we want to share with you the history of Ammolite, what it is and where it comes from. One thing you must know right away is Ammolite is only found in Southern Alberta, Canada. No where else in the world can one find this limited, unique, precious investment gemstone.

Why do I keep saying investment? Well, read along and discover the attributes of the rarity of Ammolite.

Ammolite is a vibrant, colourful gemstone from fossilized mother-of-pearl Ammonites. What are Ammonites? This is what gets people confused sometimes. What is the difference between Ammonites and Ammolite? Ammonite is a class of hard shelled marine creatures. These creatures lived for about 275 million years in the shallow sea lands of prehistoric Canada. Ammonites eventually became extinct 30 million years ago, along with the dinosaurs during the Cretaceous period. The geological conditions and tectonic pressures that occurred in the formation of the Canadian Rockies resulted in the Ammonite fossils forming into gem quality specimens.

The Ammonite fossils are found in the Eastern front of the Canadian Rockies. There are two mines; however, the most predominate mine is located in St. Mary’s River, Southern Alberta. Ammolite was discovered only 15 years ago. It is a fascinating fresh discovery that is quickly gaining popularity and making a distinct presence in the jewel industry.

Now we know where Ammolite comes from. Why is it investment worthy? Well, considering Ammolite comes from a fossil, this means that there is only so much of it. The amount of Ammolite is limited. With time, the value continues to grow. Also, the rarity of Ammolite is attributed to the fact that it is only available in Southern Alberta and no where else in the world.

Let’s discuss what grading is. Why do people discuss the grade of an Ammolite stone? What does it mean? Grading an Ammolite stone ultimately distinguishes its value. The Ammolite stone is graded depending on two major factors; its colour(s) and intensity. The more colour combinations the stone holds, the higher the grade of the stone. If the stone is only of one colour, it is less valuable. Use the grading system as a ‘buyers guide’. No two Ammolite gemstones are the same. Each stone is as individual as its beholder. The beauty of the piece can only be judged by that beholder. Considering Ammolite comes from a fossil, it has its imperfections. Yet, the beauty alone reveals the history and magic behind its process.

B Grade Ammolite: This stone holds hardly any colour. The colour appears more like the colours of the ammonite fossil itself. This is not considered an investment stone. Yellows and mustard Green may be visible. Do not be fooled though, this is the lowest grade of an Ammolite stone. It’s value does not compare to the highest grades of Ammolite.

Standard Grade Ammolite: Standard Ammolite stone is inexpensive. The colours within this grade are less distinct and not as bright as higher grades of Ammolite.

A Grade Ammolite: This grade displays at least one colour. The intensity of the colour is moderate, however, in some cases, can display two colours.

AA Grade Ammolite: A very fine grade of Ammolite. This grade consists of two distinct colours of moderate to high intensity. This is a great investment grade of Ammolite and in some cases, may display a third colour.

AAA Grade Ammolite: This grade is the finest grade of Ammolite. It displays three distinct, well defined colours each at a high level of intensity. AA Grade Ammolite is the rarest grade, consequently, the most expensive. The characteristics of both A+ and AA Grade Ammolite are alluring and captivating.

Now we know the different grades of Ammolite. Let’s get specific about the colours. “The colours most commonly seen in Ammolite are red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. Prismatic colours in the full rainbow shown in the stone are highly regarded and sought after by gem collectors and enthusiasts due to their rarity. Each Ammolite stone is unique in brilliance, colour and pattern. It takes extensive training and practice before one can correctly grade Ammolite. Only 10% of the stones receive an A+ or AA grading. The stones are available in natural freeform or in calibrated doublets and triplets. Stabilized Ammolite is now also available. When synthetic spinel cap is placed over Ammolite, the hardness is doubled enabling it to be worn as everyday jewellery in rings, pendants and earrings.” Some of this information is provided by Donna Barson C.I.G, A.G.A, and Accredited Gemmologist. The hardness rating is based on the Moh’s scale. She also discusses the root of an Ammolite’s shine and origins of its colour(s), “Ammolite, like pearls has multiple thin layers which catch and reflect light. The iridescence that occurs is created by light interference and reflection from these layers. These gems owe their colour to the optical phenomenon that spread or cancel light waves and as such are known as Spectrochromatic as they are neither allochromatic (colours caused by impurities) nor are they idiochromatic. The Ammolite stones owe the originality of its colour(s) to its own chemical composition. Ammonites of the Cretaceous era had nacreous shells similar to those of the Nautilus. The colour is caused by the overlapping layers of aragonite held in the conchiolin and spaced to give spectral reflections from light penetrating one or two layers. In Ammolite, burial an alteration of conchicolin to limonite (the brown iridescent lines in ammolite) caused the aragonite layers to be compressed into a closer spacing resulting in the spectacular colours we see today. Conditions were optimim to “magically transform”Ammonite to Ammolite.”

Tip #2. No two Ammolite gemstones are the same. Each stone is as individual as its beholder. The beauty of the piece can only be judged by that beholder. Considering Ammolite comes from a fossil, it has its imperfections. It is up to you to distinguish the level of the jewellery piece’s attractiveness.

True Colours - True Ammolite
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