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Agate

Agate

Is a type of quartz (silica), chiefly chalcedony, characterised by its fineness of grain and brightness of color. Although agates may be found in various kinds of rock, they are classically associated with volcanic rocks but can be common in certain metamorphic rocks which are the result of the transformation of a pre-existing rock types. Metamorphic rocks make up a large part of the Earth’s crust and are classified by texture and by chemical and mineral assemblage. Chalcedony is more soluble than quartz under low-temperature conditions, despite the two minerals being chemically identical.

Agate

Banded Agate

The colorful agate and other chalcedonies were obtained over 3,000 years ago from the Achates River, now the Drillo, in Sicily. Most agates occur as nodules in volcanic rocks or ancient lavas where they represent cavities originally produced by the disengagement of volatiles in the molten mass which were then filled, wholly or partially, by siliceous matter deposited in regular layers upon the walls. Such agates, when cut transversely, exhibit a succession of parallel lines, often of extreme tenuity, giving a banded appearance to the section. Such stones are known as banded agate, riband agate and striped agate.

Agate


Some 3,000 years ago the ancient Egyptians sought colourful agates and other chalcedonies from the Aghates River (now called the Drillo River) in Sicily. As a consequence, many agate artefacts and jewellery have been found in the tombs of long dead Kings and Queens of ancient Egypt.

Agate

There are many types of agates. I’ll mention a few here. Judy Hall says that Agates are grounding stones, bringing about emotional, physical and intellectual balance. They aid in centering and stabilizing physical energy. Agate has the power to harmonize yin and yang that hold the universe in place. Blue green agates are usually made glass and has no therapeutic properties. Green Agate enhances mental and emotional flexibility and improves decision-making. Pink Agate promotes love between parent and child.

Agate

Agate


Botswana Agate (found only in Botswana, Africa), is beneficial for smokers and those who want to quit. It helps to look to solutions rather than dwelling on problems. It helps you to explore unknown territory and your own creativity.. At mental level it helps you see the bigger picture, and at emotional level it gently releases repression.

Agate


Blue Lace Agate, is a wonderful healing stone. Its soft energy is cooling and calming, bringing peace to mind. It is particularly effective for activating and healing the throat chakra, allowing free expression of thoughts and feelings.

Agate


Dendritic Agate, is known as the stone of plenitude. It brings abundance and fullness to all areas of life, including busines and agriculture (enhances yield of crops or maintain health of house plants). It creates a peaceful environment, both inner and outer.

Agate

Agate

Fire Agate is a layered stone. The layers are small enough that light entering them forms interference colors known as “fire.” The gem is thought to be formed when hot water saturated with colloidal silica and iron oxide invades cavities in country rock and begin to cool. Its energy is calming, bringing safety and security. It supports during difficult times.

Agate


Moss Agate, is said to refresh the soul and enable to see the beauty in all you behold. It is helpful in reducing sensitivity to weather and environmental pollutants. Extremely beneficial for anyone employed in agriculture or associated with botany. A birthing crystal, Moss Agate assists midwives in their work, lessening pain and ensuring good delivery. It is also a stone of new beginnings and release from blockages or spiritual fetters.

The Lake Superior agate is a type of agate stained by iron and found on the shores of Lake Superior. Its wide distribution and iron-rich bands of color reflect the gemstone’s geologic history in Minnesota. In 1969 the Lake Superior agate was designated by the Minnesota Legislature as the official state gemstone.

Agate Creek in far North Queensland is the acknowledged Australian source for attractively patterned agates that occur in and are weathered from amygdaloidal basalt of Carboniferous age. Agate Creek agates are renowned both for the beauty and diversity of their attractive colour patterns. It is a pity that agate from Agate Creek in North Queensland is little appreciated outside of Australia, for this agate displays nearly every conceivable colour and pattern that is possible to observe in agate.

Agate

Agate in Quartz

 

Agate

 

Agate

Main Sources : WikipediaGem OrgMindAt

Ammonite

Today I am going to deviate a bit from my normal crystals into a non crystal artifact. But you usually do find them common in crystal shops. They fascinated me because of their polished beauty.

Ammonite

Ammonites are an extinct group of marine animals of the subclass Ammonoidea in the class Cephalopoda, phylum Mollusca. Ammonites’ closest living relative is probably not the modern Nautilus (which they outwardly resemble), but rather octopus, squid, and cuttlefish. Plinius the Elder (died 79 A.D. near Pompeii) called fossils of these animals ammonis cornua (“horns of Ammon”) because the Egyptian god Ammon (Amun) was typically depicted wearing ram’s horns.

Ammonite

Because ammonites and their close relatives are extinct, little is known about their way of life. Their soft body parts are very rarely preserved in any detail. Nonetheless, much has been worked out by examining ammonoid shells and by using models of these shells in water tanks.

Ammonite

Many ammonoids probably lived in the open water of ancient seas, rather than at the sea bottom. This is suggested by the fact that their fossils are often found in rocks that were laid down under conditions where no bottom-dwelling life is found. Many of them (such as Oxynoticeras) are thought to have been good swimmers with flattened, discus-shaped, streamlined shells, although some ammonoids were less effective swimmers and were likely to have been slow-swimming bottom-dwellers. Ammonites and their kin probably preyed on fishes, crustaceans and other small creatures; while they themselves were preyed upon by such marine reptiles as mosasaurs. Fossilized ammonoids have been found showing teeth marks from such attacks.

Ammonite

The soft body of the creature occupied the largest segments of the shell at the end of the coil. The smaller earlier segments were walled off and the animal could maintain its buoyancy by filling them with gas. Thus the smaller sections of the coil would have floated above the larger sections. Many illustrations make the mistake of placing the larger end of the coil at the top for aesthetic reasons but this is factually incorrect.

Ammonite

Like the modern nautilus, many ammonites were probably able to withdraw their body into the living chamber of the shell and developed either a single horny plate or a pair of calcitic plates with which they were able to close the opening of the shell.

Ammonite

Few of the ammonites occurring in the lower and middle part of the Jurassic period reach a size exceeding 23 centimetres (9 inches) in diameter. Much larger forms are found in the later rocks of the upper part of the Jurassic and the lower part of the Cretaceous, such as Titanites from the Portland Stone of Jurassic of southern England, which is often 53 centimetres (2 feet) in diameter, and Parapuzosia seppenradensis of the Cretaceous period of Germany, which is one of the largest known ammonites, sometimes reaching 2 metres (6.5 feet) in diameter. The largest documented North American ammonite is Parapuzosia bradyi from the Cretaceous with specimens measuring 137 centimetres (4.5 feet) in diameter, although a new British Columbian specimen, if authentic, would appear to trump even the European champion.

Ammonite

Other fossils, such as many found in Madagascar and Alberta (Canada), display iridescence. These iridescent ammonites are often of gem quality (ammolite) when polished. In no case would this iridescence have been visible during the animal’s life; additional shell layers covered it.

Ammonite

Ammonite

 

Ammonite

 

And if you have too much money you can go and buy some of these speakers.

Ammonite

Ref : Wikipedia

Amethyst

There seems to be a great interest in Amethyst crystals. I hardly had any difficulty finding more information on it. In fact there is so much info that I will not try and cover it all here. Most people has seen Amethyst as it is very common and typically displayed as a disectioned rock with an interior of crystals.

Amethyst

My wife loves Amethyst stones and has a few including a polished one that looks much like the one in the picture below. Most of my informartin came from the Wikipedia entry this time as it was so complete.

Amethyst

Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz often used as an ornament, its chemical formula is SiO2.The name comes from the Greek a (“not”) and methustos (“to intoxicate”), a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness; the ancient Greeks and Romans wore amethyst and made drinking vessels of it in the belief that it would prevent intoxication.

In the 20th century, the color of amethyst was attributed to the presence of manganese. However, since it is capable of being greatly altered and even discharged by heat, the color was believed by some authorities to be from an organic source. Ferric thiocyanate was suggested, and sulfur was said to have been detected in the mineral.

More recent work has shown that amethyst’s coloration is due to ferric iron impurities. Further study has shown a complex interplay of iron and aluminium is responsible for the color.

Amethyst

On exposure to heat, amethyst generally becomes yellow, and much of the citrine, cairngorm, or yellow quartz of jewelry is said to be merely “burnt amethyst.” Veins of amethystine quartz are apt to lose their color on the exposed outcrop. Because it has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale, amethyst is treasured for its use in jewelry.

Synthetic amethyst is made to imitate the best quality amethyst. Its chemical and physical properties are so similar to that of natural amethyst that it cannot be differentiated with absolute certainty without advanced gemological testing (which is often cost prohibitive). There is one test (which is not 100 percent certain) based on “Brazil law twinning” (a form of quartz twinning where right and left hand quartz structures are combined in a single crystal which can be used to identify synthetic amethyst rather easily. In theory however it is possible to create this material synthetically as well, but this type is not available in large quantities in the market.

Amethyst

Amethyst was used as a gemstone by the ancient Egyptians and was largely employed in antiquity for intaglios. Beads of amethyst are found in Anglo-Saxon graves in England. It is a widely distributed mineral, but fine, clear specimens that are suitable for cutting as ornamental stones are confined to comparatively few localities. Such crystals occur either in the cavities of mineral-veins and in granitic rocks, or as a lining in agate geodes. A huge geode, or “amethyst-grotto,” from near Santa Cruz in southern Brazil was exhibited at the Düsseldorf, Germany Exhibition of 1902. Many of the hollow agates of Brazil and Uruguay contain a crop of amethyst crystals in the interior. Much fine amethyst comes from Russia, especially from near Mursinka in the Ekaterinburg district, where it occurs in drusy cavities in granitic rocks. Many localities in India yield amethyst.

Amethyst occurs at many localities in the United States, but these specimens are rarely fine enough for use in jewelry. Among these may be mentioned Amethyst Mountain, Texas; Yellowstone National Park; Delaware County, Pennsylvania; Haywood County, North Carolina; and Deer Hill and Stow, Maine. It is found also in the Lake Superior region. Amethyst is relatively common in northwestern Ontario, and in various locations throughout Nova Scotia, but uncommon elsewhere in Canada. Amethyst is produced in abundance from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil where it occurs in large geodes within volcanic rocks. It is also found and mined in South Korea.

Amethyst

The following is a list of many of the more noteworthy localities and some of the attributes that characterize the amethyst found there.

  • Vera Cruz, Mexico — very pale, clear, prismatic crystals that are sometimes double terminated and have grown on a light colored host rock. Crystals are typically phantomed, having a clear quartz interior and an amethyst exterior. Some are sceptered and phantomed.
  • Guerrero, Mexico — dark, deep purple, prismatic crystals that radiate outward from a common attachment point. Often the crystals are phantomed opposite of Vera Cruz amethyst having a purple interior with a clear or white quartz exterior. These are some of the most valuable amethysts in the world.
  • Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul, Bahaia, Brazil — crystals form in druzy crusts that line the inside of sometimes large volcanic rock pockets or “vugs”. Some of the vugs form from trees that were engulfed in a lava flow millions of years ago and have since withered away. Other vugs are just gas bubbles in the lava. Some vugs can be quite large. The crystals that form are usually light to medium in color and only colored at the tops of the crystals. Most clusters form with gray, white and blue agate and have a green exterior on the vugs. Calcite sometimes is associated and inclusions of cacoxenite are common.
  • Maraba, Brazil — large crystals with unattractive surfaces that are of a pale to medium color and often carved or cut into slices.
  • Thunder Bay, Canada — a distinct red hematite inclusion just below the surface of the crystals is unique to this locality. Clusters are druzy crusts that line the fissures formed in ancient metamorphic rocks.
  • Uruguay — crystals are dark to medium and form in druzy crusts that line the inside of volcanic vugs that have a gray or brown exterior. The crystals are usually colored throughout, unlike the Brazilian crystals, and form with a multicolored agate that often contains reds, yellows and oranges. Often amethyst- coated stalactites and other unusual formations occur inside these vugs.
  • Africa — crystals are usually large but not attractive. However, the interior color and clarity are excellent and polished slices and carvings as well as many gemstones are prized and admired.
  • Maine, USA — Dark druzy clusters that are not widely distributed today.
  • North Carolina, USA — Druzy clusters that have a bluish-violet tint.
  • Pennsylvania, USA — druzy clusters that filled fractures in metamorphic rocks. They are generally a brownish purple and patchy in color.
  • Colorado, USA — druzy clusters form crusts inside of fissures in sandstone, often on top of a crust of green fluorite. Crystals are dark but rather small.
  • Italy — both Vera Cruz like crystals, although not as well defined, and large parallel growth clusters with good evenly distributed color.
  • Germany — associated with colorful agates that form a druzy light-colored crust.
  • Ural Mountains, Russia — a very clear and dark variety that is cut for fine expensive gemstones, natural uncut clusters are rarely on the market.

Amethyst

Due to its popularity as a gemstone, several descriptive terms have been coined in the gem trade to describe the varying colors of amethyst. “Rose de France” is usually a pale pinkish lavender or lilac shade (usually the least-sought color). The most prized color is an intense violet with red flashes and is called “Siberian,” although gems of this color may occur from several locations other than Siberia, notably Uruguay and Zambia. In more recent times, certain gems (usually of Bolivian origin) that have shown alternate bands of amethyst purple with citrine orange have been given the name ametrine. Purple corundum, or sapphire of amethystine tint, is called Oriental amethyst, but this expression is often applied by jewelers to fine examples of the ordinary amethystine quartz, even when not derived from eastern sources. Professional gemological associations, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the American Gemological Society (AGS), discourage the use of the term “Oriental amethyst” to describe any gem, as it may be misleading.

Traditionally included in the cardinal, or most valuable, gemstones (along with diamond, sapphire, ruby, and emerald), amethyst has lost much of its value due to the discovery of extensive deposits in locations such as Brazil. The highest grade Amethyst (called “Deep Russian”) is exceptionally rare and therefore its value is dependent on the demand of collectors when one is found. It is however still orders of magnitude lower than the highest grade sapphires or rubies (Padparadscha Sapphire or “Pigeon Blood” Ruby) which can go for as much as $50,000 or more per carat.

Amethyst is the birthstone associated with February. It is also associated with the astrological signs of Pisces, Aries (especially the violet and purple variety), Aquarius, and Sagittarius. It is a symbol of heavenly understanding, and of the pioneer in thought and action on the philosophical, religious, spiritual, and material planes. Ranking members of the Roman Catholic Church traditionally wear rings set with a large amethyst as part of their office.

Amethyst

The Greek word “amethystos” (αμέθυστος) basically can be translated as “not drunken.” Amethyst was considered to be a strong antidote against drunkenness, which is why wine goblets were often carved from it. Supposedly, when a drunken Dionysus was pursuing a maiden called Amethystos, who refused his affections, she prayed to the gods to remain chaste. The goddess Artemis granted the prayer, transforming her into a white stone; humbled by Amethystos’ desire to remain chaste, Dionysus poured wine over the stone she had become as an offering, dying the crystals purple.

Amethyst

Variants of the story include that Dionysus, the god of intoxication, had been insulted by a mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal who crossed his path, creating fierce tigers to carry out his wish; the mortal turned out to be a beautiful young woman, Amethystos, who was on her way to pay tribute to Artemis. Her life is spared by Artemis, who transforms the maiden into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws. Dionysus wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god’s tears stained the quartz purple. Another variation involves the goddess Rhea presenting Dionysus with the amethyst stone to preserve the winedrinker’s sanity

The Second Book of Pseudo-Albertus Magnus, Of the Vertues of Certaine Stones, refers to amethysts by the name Amarictus.

According to Judy Hall :

  • It is extremely powerful and a protective stone
  • It guard against psychic attack transmuting the energy to love
  • It overcomes addictions and blockages of all kinds
  • Strong healing and cleansing powers and enhances spiritual awareness
  • Used at a higher level, it opens to another reality
  • It is calming or stimulating as appropriate
  • For meditation it turns thoughts away from the mundane into tranquility and understanding
  • It helps you feel less scattered, more focused and in control
  • Facilitates the decision making process, bringing in more common sense and spiritual insights
  • Helps insomnia and protects against recurrent nightmares
  • etc.

Source : Wikipedia, Mineral Galleries, Gemstone

Naica Mine

I have gotten a e-mail recently from one of my readers, Eileen. She was nice enough to send me a wonderful powerpoint slide show on the crystal caves discovered in Chihuahua Mexico. Here is what I found out about it :

Crystal Caves

The Naica Mine of Chihuahua, Mexico, is a working mine that is known for its extraordinary selenite crystals. Naica is a lead, zinc and silver mine in which large voids have been found, containing crystals of selenite (gypsum) the cave contains some of the largest natural crystals ever found: translucent gypsum beams measuring up to 36 feet (11 meters) long and weighing up to 55 tons. Buried a thousand feet (300 meters) below Naica mountain in the Chihuahuan Desert, the cave was discovered by two miners excavating a new tunnel for the Industrias Peñoles company in 2000.

Crystal Caves

The chamber holding these crystals is known as the Crystal Cave of Giants, and is approximately 1000 feet down in the limestone host rock of the mine. The crystals were formed by hydrothermal fluids emanating from the magma chambers below. The cavern was discovered while the miners were drilling through the Naica fault, which they were worried would flood the mine. The Cave of Swords is another chamber in the Naica Mine, containing similar large crystals.

Crystal Caves

The Naica mine was first discovered by early prospectors in 1794 south of Chihuahua City. They struck a vein of silver at the base of a range of hills called Naica by the Tarahumara Indians. The origin in the Tarahumara language seems to mean “a shady place”. From the discovery until about 1900, the primary interest was silver and gold. Around 1900 large-scale mining began as zinc and lead became more valuable. During the Mexican Revolution the mine was producing a great deal of wealth. Revolutionary troops entered the town and demanded money from the owners. One of them was assassinated when he refused to pay, causing the mine to shut down from 1911 to 1922.

Crystal Caves

In April 2000, brothers Juan and Pedro Sanchez were drilling a new tunnel when they made a truly spectacular discovery. While Naica miners are accustomed to finding crystals, Juan and Pedro were absolutely amazed by the cavern that they found. The brothers immediately informed the engineer in charge, Roberto Gonzalez. Ing. Gonzalez realized that they had discovered a natural treasure and quickly rerouted the tunnel. During this phase some damage was done as several miners tried to remove pieces of the mega-crystals, so the mining company soon installed an iron door to protect the find. Later, one of the workers, with the intention of stealing crystals, managed to get in through a narrow hole. He tried to take some plastic bags filled with fresh air inside, but the strategy didn’t work. He lost consciousness and later was found thoroughly baked.

Crystal Caves

The mining company was afraid to tunnel through the Naica fault for fear of flooding the entire mine. In April 2000, the company became confident that the water table on the other side of the fault had been lowered sufficiently to drill. When they did this, it is almost as if a magical veil of reality was breached and an entirely new world was discovered. Two caverns filled with the Earth’s largest crystals were immediately revealed. More discoveries are expected to be made in this magical kingdom of intense natural beauty.

Crystal Caves


To learn how the crystals grew to such gigantic sizes, García-Ruiz studied tiny pockets of fluid trapped inside.
The crystals, he said, thrived because they were submerged in mineral-rich water with a very narrow, stable temperature range—around 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius). At this temperature the mineral anhydrite, which was abundant in the water, dissolved into gypsum, a soft mineral that can take the form of the crystals in the Naica cave.

Selenite is one of the most beautiful varieties of gypsum, being a mineral composed of calcium sulfate hydrate (CaSO4•2H2O) it quite often forms compact and lucid laminate aggregations. It sometimes presents itself in the shape of giant crystals with perfect laminate exfoliation, and amazing reflectivity. The Naica caves are the greatest expression of magnitude and beauty in the world.

Crystal Caves


When photographing these unique natural structures it is almost impossible to get any sense of scale. This is a geode full of spectacular crystals as tall as pine trees, and in some cases greater in circumference. They have formed beautiful crystals that are a translucent gold and silver in color, and come in many incredible forms and shapes. Some of the largest are essentially columnar in shape and stand thirty to fifty feet high and three to four feet in diameter. Many of the smaller examples are four to six feet in circumference, have many incredible geometrical shapes, and probably weigh in excess of ten tons. While some of the crystals are attached to the ceiling walls and floors of the cave as might be expected, some exist in great masses of spikes and almost float in air.

The crystal cavern was discovered within the same limestone body that hosts the silver-zinc-lead ore bodies exploited by the mine. The cavern was probably dissolved by the same hydrothermal fluids that deposited the metals with the gypsum being crystallized during the waning stages of mineralization. The crystals probably grew relatively quickly to their immense size within a completely liquid-filled cavern.

Crystal Caves


It is almost impossible to obtain clear photographs, because of the extreme ambient environment. These crystals are probably stable, as the temperature in the cave is over 150 degrees Fahrenheit with 100% humidity. In other words, these structures are enveloped in steam. A human can only function in this environment for six to ten minutes before severe loss of mental functions occurs.

Crystal Caves

Selenite, the gypsum crystal, named after the Greek goddess of the moon due to its soft white light, is said to have many metaphysical and healing benefits. Selenite powder has been used cosmetically for thousands of years to enhance one’s natural beauty. It is believed that this crystal assists with mental focus, growth, luck, immunity, and soothes the emotions. It is unquestionably magical that the cool white rays of moonlight can originate deep underground in a black chamber that is, at least in my perception, white hot.
I found most of the material from the following sites :

Canyons Worldwide, That Crystal Site, Wikipedia, Crystal Links, Naica and National Geographic.

Sodalite

My wife got this gemstone yesterday as a gift for her birthday. Despite its name it is not a diet cooldrink :).
It is blue stone which is apparently used mostly as a ornamental stone. Being a rough sample, I mistakenly first thought it was Lapis Lazuli, but it seems I wasn’t too far off. It is a member fo the Sodalite group together with Hauyne, Nosean and Lazurite which are common constituents of Lapis Lazuli. Sodalite is a scarce mineral that can be rock forming. Her gemstone looks pretty much like the one below.

Sodalite

Discovered in 1806 in Greenland, sodalite did not become important as an ornamental stone until 1891 when vast deposits of fine material were discovered in Ontario, Canada. It has since been named Princess Blue after Princess Patricia who, upon visiting Ontario some time after its discovery, chose sodalite as interior decoration for Marlborough House in England.

Sodalite

Its light to dark pure blue color is well known in the semi-precious stone trade. A light, relatively hard yet fragile mineral, sodalite is named after its sodium content; in mineralogy it may be classed as a feldspathoid. Minerals whose chemistries are close to that of the alkali feldspars but are poor in silica (SiO2) content, are called feldspathoids. Localities that have feldspathoids are few but some produce large quantities of sodalite. Sodalite, when not blue, is hard to distinguish from other feldspathoids. It is the only feldspathoid that contains chlorine. Sodalite dissolved in a dilute solution of HNO3 gives a positive chlorine test obtained from some swimming pool test kits.

Sodalite

Sodalite may also be grey, yellow, green, or pink and is often mottled with white veins or patches. The more uniformly blue material is used in jewellery, where it is fashioned into cabochons and beads. Lesser material is more often seen as facing or inlay in various applications.

Sodalite

Although very similar to lazurite and lapis lazuli, sodalite is never quite comparable, being a royal blue rather than ultramarine. Sodalite also rarely contains pyrite, a common inclusion in lapis. It is further distinguished from similar minerals by its white (rather than blue) streak.

Sodalite

Its consists of Sodium aluminium silicate with chlorine (Na4Al3(SiO4)3Cl). They are found in silica poor rocks containing other silica poor minerals and no quartz.

The picture below is a hippo ornament carved from sodalite which demonstrates the mineral’s poor cleavage – cracks can be seen throughout the stone.

Sodalite

Below : Clear crystals of sodalite with hoppered perovskite on matrix.

Sodalite

Below : Purple sodalite with some crystal faces, supporting a very sharp, transparent winchite crystal, terminated on one end.

Sodalite

Judy Hall states the following healing properties :

  • By stimulating the Pineal Gland, Sodalite clears the Third Eye, and deepens meditation
  • Helps you to remain true to yourself and stand up for your beliefs
  • Blocks computers emanations – clears electromagnetic pollution
  • Sodalite is said to promote companionship, and can be used in group settings, where cooperation is needed
  • It encourages rational thought, objectivity, truth and intuitive perception
  • Brings emotional balance and calms panic attacks
  • Enhances self-esteem, self-acceptance and self-trust
  • Balances the metabolism, overcomes calcium deficiencies, and cleanses the lymphatic system and organs, boosting the immune system
  • Combats radiation damage and insomnia
  • Cools fevers, lowers blood pressure etc.

Sodalite

More info at : Wikipedia, Mindat, Mineral Galleries and Web Mineral

Fire Opal

Fire Opal

On my last post a comment raised the question on how Opals differ from Chrysocolla. It inspired me for my next post – so here it is : Opals. Opals are actually a whole genre of gemstones that contains many varieties, so I will only focus on the Fire Opal in this post (all pictures in this post are of Fire Opals). But first of, some general comments on Opals.

Opal is amorphous SiO2·nH2O, hydrated silicon dioxide, the water content sometimes being as high as 20% but is usually between three and ten percent. Opal ranges from clear through white, gray, red, yellow, green, shore, blue, magenta, brown, and black. Of these hues, red and black are the most rare and dear, whereas white and green are the most common.

Fire Opal

The word Opal comes from the Latin opalus, by Greek òpalliòs, by Sanskrit upálá[s] for “stone”, originally a millstone with upárá[s] for slab. The veins of opal displaying the play of color are often quite thin, and this has given rise to unusual methods of preparing the stone as a gem. An opal doublet is a thin layer of colorful material, backed by a black mineral, such as ironstone, basalt or obsidian. The darker backing emphasizes the play of color, and results in a more attractive display than a lighter potch. Given the texture of opals, they can be quite difficult to polish to a reasonable lustre.
“Numerous legends and tales surround this colourful gemstone, which can be traced back in its origins to a time long before our memory, to the ancient dream time of the Australian aborigines. It is reported in their legends that the creator came down to Earth on a rainbow, in order to bring the message of peace to all the humans. And at the very spot, where his foot touched the ground, the stones became alive and started sparkling in all the colours of the rainbow. That was the birth of the Opals.

Fire Opal

The group of fine Opals includes quite a number of wonderful gemstones, which share one characteristic: they shine and sparkle in a continually changing play of colours full of fantasy, which experts describe as “opalising”. Depending on the kind, place of occurrence, and colour of the main body, we differentiate Dark or Black Opal, White or Light Opal, Milk or Crystal Opal, Boulder Opal, Opal Matrix, Yowah Nuts from Queensland – the so-called “picture stones“, and also Mexican and Fire Opal.

Fire Opal

Australia is the classical Opal country and today is the worldwide most important supplier of Fine Opals. Almost 95 per cent of all Opals come from Australian mines. The remaining five per cent are mined in Mexico, and in Brazil’s north, also in the US states of Idaho and Nevada, but recently the stones have also been found in Ethiopia and in the West African country of Mali.

“It is in Mexico that the most significant fire opal deposits in the world lie. Rock strata containing opals run through the Mexican highlands, with their many extinct volcanoes. With a few exceptions, the gemstone, which lies hidden in cavities and crevices, is extracted in open-cast mines, the work giving rise to impressive canyons with walls up to 60 metres high and labyrinthine passages which wind their way through the mining areas.

The Mayas and Aztecs loved this gemstone and liked to use it in mosaics and for ritualistic purposes. They called it quetzalitzlipyollitli, the ‘stone of the bird of paradise’ “

Australia produces around 97% of the world’s opal. 90% is called ‘light opal’ or white and crystal opal. White makes up 60% but not all the opal fields produce white opal; Crystal opal or pure hydrated silica makes up 30%; 8% is black and only 2% is boulder opal.

Fire Opal

Fire opal, or Girasol, is a translucent to semi-opaque stone that is generally yellow to bright orange and sometimes nearly red and displays pleochroism at certain angles.

Not all fire opals are the same. There are the common fire opals, which, depending on their quality, are either faceted or cut into cabochons, and the especially valuable ones, which, in addition to their vivacious colour, also have the gaudy play of colour typical of opals. But with or without play of colour, the fire opal plays its part as a top quality gemstone to perfection.

Fire Opal

Fire opal is found mostly in Mexico and Mesoamerica. In South America, a city called Pedro II, located in Brazil, produces opal that was discovered in 1930.

Fire opals are either faceted – that is, as far as their transparency allows – or cut as a cabochon, since this is the shape which best brings out the rich glow of this orange jewel. It is the oval which is regarded as the classical shape for valuable fire opals. Brazilian raw stones, however, are also cut into many other imaginative shapes, their sheer size giving cutters and gemstone designers almost unlimited freedom for both work and play.”

Fire Opal

“The tolerance of the fire opal to extreme heat is just as poor as its resistance to acids, alkaline solutions and sharp objects. Very unfavourable conditions compel the opal to surrender its moisture, which can make it cloudy and cracked. Like all opals, it should not be exposed to intense light over long periods. However, it loves to be worn a lot, since this enables it to maintain its water balance, using the moisture of the wearer’s skin and that of the air. Having said that, it should be protected against contact with cosmetics. Fire opals which have become matt through being worn a great deal can be repolished.”

The drier the place where it is found, the more durable the Fire Opal will be.

Fire Opal

Virgin Valley Fire Opals are the most spectacular speciman fire opals in the world. They emit vivid flashes of color – blue, green, gold, red, and peacock combinations. The crystal, ranging from clear to black, is formed as petrified wood.

Virgin Valley fire also occurs in a petrified wood cell structure called conk. This is a very rare form of fire opal. Because of the “matrix” this form is naturally stable. However, these pieces might be more valuable as rare fossil specimens because of their obvious wood grain and texture.

Virgin Valley is located in a remote Northwest section of Nevada, 29 miles west of Denio. It is in the middle of a national wildlife refuge.

The Opal is found in hard, heavy, clay layers. The clay layers consist of volcanic ash deposited between 12 and 20 million years ago.

Fire Opal

Judy Hall’s Crystal Bible also refers to Opals as a group, general characteristics she mentions are :

  • Delicate stone with fine vibration
  • It enhances cosmic conciousness and induces psychic end mystical visions.
  • Stimulates orginality and dynamic creativity
  • Aids in accessing and expressing one’s true self
  • Picks up thoughts and feelings, amplifies them, and retyurns them to the source
  • A karmic stone, it teaches that what you put out comes back
  • Emotionally it has always been associated with love and passion, desire and eroticism
  • Opal strengthens the will to live
  • Treats Parkinson’ disease, infections, fevers and strengthens memory.
  • Purifying the blood and kidneys, it regulates insulin, eases childbirth and alleviates PMS (use dark colors)
  • Place as appropriate, especially on the heart or solar plexus. Wear on little finger.

Fire Opal :

  • Enhancer of personal power, awakening inner fire and a protector against danger
  • Symbol of hope, excellent for business and an energy amplifier
  • Facilitates change and progress
  • For letting go of the past
  • etc.

 

Fire Opal

For more general Opal info : Wikipedia, Mindat and Web Mineral

For Fire Opal info : Gemstone , MindAt and Arizona Rock Shop

Chrysocolla

Thanks for the support for my new blog. Herewith the next entry as promised on Chrysocolla. As said in my previous entry, is that my Malachite tumbled stone actually only have traces of Chrysocolla in it. Tumbled Chrysocolla dominant stones will look more like the following picture.

Chrysocolla

Chrysocolla (hydrated copper silicate) is a mineral with a pretty complicated formula : (Cu,Al) 2 H2 Si2 O5 (OH)4 nH2O (Copper/Aluminium, Hydrogen, Silicon, Oxygen). It is of secondary origin and forms in the oxidation zones of copper ore bodies. Associated minerals are quartz, limonite, azurite, malachite, cuprite, and other secondary copper minerals.

Below is a picture with dominant Chrysocolla and traces of Malachite.

Chrysocolla

While the following picture is Malachite with traces of Chrysocolla in it.

Chrysocolla and Malachite

Following 2 pictures is Malachite with trace of Chrysocolla surrounding it in raw form.

B

Chrysocolla

Chrysocolla

Because of its light color, it is sometimes confused with turquoise. Commonly it occurs only as porous crusts unsuitable for gem use, but high quality, gem grade Chrysocolla can be translucent and is highly prized.

Chrysocolla

The following picture is an extremely attractive piece of jewelry I found at the Palace Gems site. It is apparently a 63.99-ct piece cut from material found in the 1950s and by Bud Standley. It is very beautiful but I’d rather not ask what is their asking price.

Chrysocolla

Chrysocolla was first used by Theophrastus in 315 B.C. and comes from the Greek chrysos, meaning “gold,” and kolla, meaning “glue,” in allusion to the name of the material used to solder gold.

Notable occurrences include Israel, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chile, Peru, Cornwall in England, and Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Zaire, Russia and Pennsylvania in the United States.

According to Judy Hall’s book – Chrysocolla is :

  • A tranquil and sustaining stone
  • Helps meditation and communication
  • In the home, draws off negative energies of all kinds
  • Beneficial to relationships that have become rocky, stabilizing and healing bot the home and interaction
  • Calms, cleanses and reenergizes all the chakras and align them with the divine.
  • At solar plexus draws out negative emotions such as guilt and reverses destructive emotional programming.
  • At heart chakra, it heals heartache and increases the capacity to love.
  • At the throat it improves communication, but also helps to discern when to keep silent.
  • At the third eye it opens psychic vision
  • Encourages self-awareness and inner balance, and imparts confidence and sensitivity.
  • Enhances personal power and inspires creativity
  • Treats arthritis, bone disease, muscle spasms, digestive tract, ulcers, blood disorder, and lung problems.
  • Detoxifies liver, kidneys, and intestines
  • An excellent stone for women, as it treats PMS and menstrual cramps.
  • Also beneficial to metabolism
  • etc.

Find out more at : Mindat and Web Mineral

Chrysocolla

Chrysocolla by Antonio Borrelli

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