Paua shell is the Maori name given to a group of shells also known as Abalone, it means opal of the sea. Abalone is quite rare in its natural habitat therefore jewellery you see made from this shell comes from sustainable farms.
The piece of shell used to make this stunning jewellery has been created by nacre which is a fluid released by the Abalone Larvae. It secretes the nacre when it is irritated by foreign objects that enter its shell. This nacre then dries hard onto the inside of the shell. The colour of the shell is very variable from species to species. The iridescent nacre of the shell varies in colour from silvery white, to pink, red and green-red, through to Haliotis iris, which shows predominantly deep blues, greens and purples. The white Abalone is extremely rare and you will not see this in jewellery.
Farming of abalone began in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Japan and China. Since the mid-1990s, there have been many increasingly successful endeavours to commercially farm abalone for the purpose of consumption. Over-fishing and poaching have reduced wild populations to such an extent that farmed abalone now supplies most of the abalone meat consumed. The principal abalone farming regions are China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. Abalone is also farmed in Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States.
Agate is a variety of chalcedony chiefly distinguished by its bands and colouring. Its banded appearance is due to the fact that it is made up of a great number of exceedingly thin layers of trapped gases which appear as bands in cross section. Agate is formed when circulating ground waters approaching saturation in silica content fill a cavity in a host rock or dissolve pre-existing material such as bone or shell. Agate has been found with the remains of Stone Age man in France from as early as 20,000-16,000 B.C. Agate is often found in the shape of a round nodule, with concentric bands like the rings of a tree trunk.
The bands sometimes look like eyes, sometimes like scallops, or even like a landscape with dendritic trees.
The name agate comes to us through Latin from the Greek word for the river Achates, in Sicily, where this material was first found in significant quantities.
Agate is one of the first materials known to man. It has been very well recorded and has lots of legends myths and healing properties around it here is a few.
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.
Other legends says that any person who looks upon an agate cannot remain secretive and is obligated to tell the truth. It is said to have mystical powers to guard one against danger, to cure insomnia, to ensure pleasant dreams and to help with clarity enabling one to see the world through a broader perspective. It attracts good fortune, increases concentration and promotes good will. Agate is reported to be an aid in overcoming flaws, fears, and loneliness. It is believed to remove curses and spells and helps to eliminate bad luck. Many believe that agate has a calming effect during times of stress and that it gives a sense of strength and courage. It is thought to stimulate fertility and to be advantageous in relieving bone marrow ailments and allergies. Artists and writers have used agate to enhance creativity.
Egyptians used agates prior to 3000 B.C. for talismans, amulets, seals, rings and vessels. Early civilizations used eye beads to protect them from evil and bring good luck. They created eye beads by carving a hole through an agate disc.
Agate is the Mystical birthstone for September. It is also the birth stone for the Zodiac sign of Gemini
Agate is the accepted gemstone for the 12th and 14th wedding anniversaries.
Amazonstone also called amazonite is blue/green in colour and is a variety of microcline feldspar. Named after the amazon river, it is found in the mountains of Llmen and Ural of Russia, the Pike Peak district of Colorado USA and in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
For many years the source of the amazonite colour was a mystery. It was originally believed to be caused by traces of copper because copper compounds often have blue green colours. Recently it has been discovered that there are traces of lead and water in the feldspar and the colour is the result of this unusual combination.
We know that Amber is the fossilised resin of ancient pine trees from the pinaceae family which are now largely extinct.
As the pine resin oozed out of the trees it covered anything in its path, such as flies, spiders and many insects. In fact more than 1000 extinct species have been identified in amber. The process of hardening took many millions of years.
Interest in amber dates back to ancient Greece where it was known as Elektron due the static electricity charge, when the stone is rubbed.
Roman warriors war mail was studded with amber for luck.
In Nero's time amber was considered more valuable than a slave. The emperor was angered at having to pay middle men for the amber and dispatched an emissary to establish contact with Germanic tribes nearer the source. The emissary returned with 13000 pounds of amber. Thus direct trade was established between Rome and the north. Amber during this time was often burned amber as incense.
The amber trade dwindled during the early middle ages. In the 14th century amber works of art were created around the Baltic sea and guilds were set up to control distribution. Amber beads and amulets have been found in stone age tombs all along the Baltic coast, in Ireland, England and as far as the Adriatic.
Amber was of great significance to the Assyrians, Egyptians, Etruscans, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. Ovid wrote that when the Phaeton, a son of Phoebus (god of the sun), convinced his father to allow him to drive the chariot of the sun across the sky for a day. He drove too close to the earth and it set on fire. To save the earth, Jupiter struck Phaeton out of the sky with his thunder bolts and he died, plunging out of the sky. His mother and sister stricken by grief turned into tree whilst weeping and their tears dried by the sun turned into Amber. Another ancient writer, Nicias, said that amber was the essence of the setting sun, congealed in the sea and cast up on the shore. The ancient Greeks discovered that sparks were produced when the amber was rubbed against cloth and attracted small particles which is why the ancient Greeks called amber Elektron.
Amber was considered to contain magical powers and was, often worn as charms to offer protection from evil spirits and witchcraft. According to Mohammed, a true believers prayer beads should be made of amber. It was acclaimed to possess the power of healing. In 79AD Pliny wrote that the women of north Italy wore amber beads to protect them against Thyroid disease. Hippocrates, father of healing, declared amber active against a number of diseases including delirium tremens. Martin Luther carried a piece of amber in his pocket as a protection against kidney stones. Powdered amber was mixed with honey and prescribed for asthma, gout and the black plague. A collection of old prescriptions can be found at the university of Bologna the oldest university in Italy, in a book written in 1750. It mentions amber pills and used as an excellent medicine for head diseases. Today, amber paste is sold at herbalist shops in Poland and used to alleviate rheumatic and other ailments.
These kinds of pastes and ointments date back to the 19th century in Europe and wearing amber bracelets or beads is still considered medically beneficial.
Amber is very popular for making jewellery and as a result it is valuable and often fake. These can be identified visually without resorting to damaging tests. Modern amber jewellery from the Baltic had circular inclusions, commonly called sun spangles, produced as a result of heating and cooling the amber. Baltic amber sometimes contains hairs from flowers of oak trees but these occur very rarely.
A faked inclusion will belong to a living species not an extinct one and examination of the amber using microscope will show that it has been cut and hollowed. Victorian jewellery used pressed amber, which was made by heating small pieces of amber together. It came in a variety of colours either cloudy or clear. Pressed amber cannot really be called fake amber because it is made from genuine amber.
Its colour is as unique as it is seductive, though in fact this gemstone is said to protect its wearer against seduction. For many thousands of years, this most striking representative of the quartz family has been a jewel coveted by prices both ecclesiastical and secular. Moses described it as a symbol of the Spirit of God in the official robes of the high priest of the Jews, and the Russian Empress Catherine the great sent thousands of miners into the Urals to look for it. In popular belief, the amethyst offers pretection against drunkenness – for the Greek work 'amethystos' means 'not intoxicated' in translation.
The legend of the origin of amethyst comes from a Greek myth. Dionysos, the god of wine, was angered one day by an insult from a mere mortal and swore revenge on the next mortal that would cross his path. In order to perform this, he created fierce tigers. Along came the unsuspecting Amethyst, a beautiful young maiden on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Artemis. Artemis turned Amethyst into a statue of pure crystalline quartz to protect her from the brutal claws of the tigers. Dionysos wept tears of wine in remorse for his action at the sight of the beautiful statue. The god's tears stained the quartz purple, creating the gem we know today.
A large number of miraculous powers are attributed to the amethyst in all sorts of cultures. It was said to protect corps against tempests and locusts, bring good fortune in war and in the hunt, drive out evil spirits and inspire the intellect. A little study of the works of Pliny revealed that this gemstone, if worn round the neck on a cord made from dogs hair, affords protection against snakebites. Heironymus reported that eagles placed an amethyst in their nest in order to protect their young from the snakes. Apart from these powers, gemstone therapists say that the anethyst has sobering and cleansing effect. Amethyst has also been said to quell excessive stomach acid and, according to Hildegard von Bingen, served to combat insect bites and beautify the skin. The amethyst not only had a firm niche in medicine it was also esteemed as a stone of friendship symbolizing trust and piety. Because of this the amethyst became a regular stone used in ornaments of the Catholic clergy, including the Papal ring in the 15th century.
The most beautiful of all crystal quartzes also posed one or two riddles for scientists which still have not been resolved today. The amethyst has a hardness of 7 it has a lot in common with other quartz however the crystal structure is most unconventional. The structure is stratified, as a result of which areas and lamellae of varying colour intensity often come about. This explains why there are relatively few large cut amethysts of an evenly distributed dark colour, in spite of its having been found so abundantly in all parts of the world. It is only in the last few year that scientists have been fairly certain of having found the real cause of the colour. It is now attributed to certain iron constituents in connection with natural radioactive radiation.
One thing that has been known for a long time is the fact that the amethyst changes colour on being heated. Smokey stones are transformed at temperatures of as little as 250 degrees to a shinning yellow to brownish-red, whilst clear ones, ie those with a high degree of transparency, become yellow or colouless at 400 degrees. Now and then nature gives us a surprise by having created bicoloured stones, like the ones recently found in Bolivia in the form of causticised crystal nuggets. This variety is known as ametrine.
This stone is the birthstone for the month of February.
Ammonites are perhaps the most widely known fossil, possessing the typically ribbed spiral-form shell. These creatures lived in the seas between 240 - 65 million years ago, when they became extinct along with the dinosaurs. The name 'ammonite' originates from the Egyptian God Ammon. Ammon's sacred animal was a ram, and an ammonite looks like a ram's horn. Pliny the Elder called ammonites the Horns of Ammon.
Ammonites belong to a group of predators known as cephalopods, which includes their living relatives the octopus, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus.
During their evolution the ammonites faced no less than three catastrophic events that would eventually lead to their extinction. The first event occurred during the Permian (250 million years ago), where only 10% survived. These surviving species went on to flourish throughout the Triassic, however at the end of this period (206 million years ago) they faced near extinction, when all but one species survived. This event marked the end of the Triassic and the beginning of the Jurassic, during which time the number of ammonite species grew once more. The final catastrophe occurred at the end of the Cretaceous period when all species were annihilated and the ammonites became extinct. This event apparently coincided with the death of the dinosaurs.
Ammonites moved by jet propulsion, expelling water through a funnel-like opening to propel themselves in the opposite direction. They typically lived for two years, although some species survived beyond this and grew very large.
At the beginning of the 18th century, fossils were described as 'figured stones', whose presence could be explained through legendary tales. According to one story, St Hilda, the Saxon Abbess of Whitby (614-680) had turned snakes into stones each one was changed into a coil of stone when holy Hilda prayed. These fossils were often taken and snake heads were carved on the top.
In our collection you will be able to see Russian Pyrite Ammonites. These are quite rare. The Pyrite has grown into the ammonite and almost completely erroded the ammonite leaving beautiful pyrite drusy caves in the ammonite.
Rutilated quartz, is a type of quartz with needle like rutile (a titanium dioxide mineral), embedded in it. The rutile needles can be reddish, which is what rutile means in Latin, or they may be golden, silvery, or on very rare occasions, greenish.
Quartz is the most common mineral on Earth. It is found in nearly every geological environment and is a component of almost every rock type. It makes up about 12% of the earth's crust, occurring in a wide variety of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. It is also the most varied in terms of variety and colour. Quartz is a 7 on the mohs scale of hardness. Rutile is a 6 on the Mohs scale. Because of the difference in hardness between the two materials and because of the way rutile forms inside, this can be a difficult stone to attain a smooth surface without pits.
Rutilated quartz is found in Australia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Madagascar, Norway, Pakistan and the United States.
Rutile is said to intensify the metaphysical properties of its host crystal and to enhance one's understanding of difficult situations. It is also said to enhance creativity and to relieve depression and loneliness.
The name comes from Greek origin 'apo' meaning "to get" and 'phyllazein' meaning "leaf", a reference to the way in which the mineral separates into flakes or layers when heated due to loss of water molecules. Apophyllite can be pink, green, cream, yellow or reddish but is most commonly colourless. It is found as glassy prismatic, blocky or tabular crystals. It is 4.5-5 on the mohs scale.
Apophyllite specimens are found in ancient lava and basalt flows and are usually associated with zeolites. The crystals grow in cavities, called amygdules or vesicles, that were formed by air bubbles when the rock was molten. Apophyllite is also found in the voids in the contact metamorphic zone limestone's that surround intrusive rocks
Apophyllites are popular as collector's minerals. This popularity is due to a combination of factors, including their abundance, colour variety, and well-defined crystals. Naturally forming pyramidal structures, they refract light in obvious rainbows, and can form "natural pyramids" when subjected to rock tumbling.
Apophyllite was only discovered at the beginning of the nineteenth century, so has no known traditions about the effectiveness.
Aquamarine is a type of Beryl its colours range from a blue/green, pale blue and even slightly yellowish. Its hardness is 7.5 -8mohs. The word Aquamarine is from the Latin for sea water referring to its colour.
Since early times, aquamarine has been believed to endow the wearer with foresight, courage, and happiness. It is said to increase intelligence and make one youthful. As a healing stone, it is said to be effective as a treatment for anxiety and in the Middle Ages it was thought that aquamarine would reduce the effect of poisons.
A legend says that sailors wore aquamarine gemstones to keep them safe and prevent seasickness. Often amulets engraved with the image of Poseidon were worn to protect the Sailor.
The crystals grow in a hexagonal system and some aquamarines when polished into a cabochon will show a cats-eye effect.
The gemstone Aquamarine is the modern March birthstone as adopted by the American National Association of Jewellers in 1912. It is also the birth stone for the Zodiac sign of Scorpio. Aquamarine is suggested as a gem to give on the 16th and 19th wedding anniversaries.
Aragonite is named for its original locality, the Aragon region of Spain.
It is found in caves growing like stalactites, near and around hot springs and in mineral veins. It also forms naturally in almost all mollusc shells.
Aragonite is chemically identical to the more common mineral calcite but it forms under more limited geological conditions. Its crystals are orthorhombic, whereas calcite is trigonal. Aragonite crystals are commonly twinned giving the appearance that it grows in hexagonal forms.
It is a 3.5-4 on the mohs scale so it is quite soft and need to be kept away for harder stones to prevent damage.
Azurite is a soft, deep blue copper mineral produced by weathering of copper ore deposits. It is also known as Chessylite after the type locality at Chessy-les-Mines near Lyon, France.
Azurite is a very popular mineral because of its unparalleled colour, a deep blue called "azure", hence its name. Azure is derived from the Arabic word for blue. The colour is due to the presence of copper (a strong colouring agent), and the way the copper chemically combines with the carbonate groups (CO3) and hydroxyls (OH). Azurite has been used as a dye for paints and fabrics for eons. Unfortunately, at times its colour is too deep and larger crystals can appear black. Small crystals and crusts show the lighter azure colour well. Azurite is often associated with its colourful close cousin, malachite.
The name derived from the Greek "Beryllos" which they gave to many green stones.
It has a hardness of 7 1/2 - 8 on mohs.
Also Known as Heliotrope, bloodstone is a dark green veriety of chalcedony coloured by iron silicates and patches of bright red jasper. When polished you can clearly see these blood drops on the dark green background.
Greek philosophers believed the stone was a preserver of health, and offered protection against deception.
During the middle ages they carved sculptures from the bloodstone to represent martyrdom. They would use the stone to prevent nosebleeds, remove anger and discord and to stop haemorrhaging.
Though reportedly discovered in the 1940s, it was not known to the outside world until its description in 1978 where it was said to have first been discovered in the Murun mountains in Yakutia. This is the only known location for this rare mineral. The name Charoite is derived from the Charo River Valley in the former Soviet Union which is near where it was found.
The colours range from bright lavender, violet and lilac to dark purple. Charoite consists of several minerals creatings swirling patterns of black Augite, transparent crystals of microcline feldspar, and orange Tinaksite. Unlike lapis which also has a mixture of minerals Charoites main content is Charoite. Charoite is one of the few gems that is so distinctive in its colour and patterns that a gemmologist can easily make a "sight" identification. There is no other material like it.
Charoite is formed from limestone by the process of contact metamorphism. Since this is a relatively common geologic phenomenon it is not completely clear why its distribution is so limited. Apparently the particular limestone in that area had unique chemical properties as did the intrusive rocks. So far, gemmologists have not been able to ascertain the exact chemical or structural reason for its purple colour.
Charoite is known as a ‘Stone of Transformation’ as it is said to transform negative emotions, such as fear, obsession and anger, into positive feelings.
Czech Fired Beads
Fired beads from the Czech Republic are a faceted glass beads. Czech fire polish beads are made in an area called Jablonec nad Nisou. Production of glass beads in the area dates back to the 14th century and this area is well known for the manufacture of high quality glass beads. They are available in many different shapes, colours, sizes, finishes and with many different coatings also available. They offer a cost effective yet superior quality crystal suitable for many different types of beading projects. Czech fire polished beads have become so popular in recent years, primarily because they are the highest quality manufactured faceted bead available. This has helped make them one of the most favoured glass beads by jewellery makers and bead workers alike.