Thursday, July 8, 2010

Featured Gemstone: Amazonite

Amazonite is a gemstone I never knew existed until I began making jewelry, thus starting my bead obsession. It is not a very well-known gemstone, not like citrine, peridot, or garnet, but in my opinion, has its own very special appeal.




Of course, the first thing you notice is the color. A striking and gorgeous baby blue. Unless, of course, we switch our focus to Russian Amazonite, which has a touch of green to it.




Physical:

Its name is derived from the Amazon River, although no deposits have been found there.

Amazonite is a rare blue-green variety of microcline (a feldspar mineral). Its brilliant color was once thought to be caused by copper, but now is attributed to the presence of lead or possibly iron. Amazonite is an opaque stone, often found with white, yellow or gray inclusions and a silky luster or silvery sheen. Because of its color, Amazonite is sometimes confused with Jade and Turquoise. While sensitive to pressure, it has a Mohs hardness rating of 6 and is suitable for beads, cabochons and in carved cameos.



History and Lore:

The ancient Egyptians and other Middle Eastern cultures made items from amazonite. It also has been found among artifacts of Pre-Columbian Central and South America. It is called the stone of courage and is said to be named after the Amazon women warriors. Some archaeological evidence suggests that the Amazonians were a matriarchal society during the Bronze Age.

Romantics claim that the beautiful green of the Amazon jungle is reflected in the stone that bears its name. A Brazilian legend tells that the Amazons, the legendary female warriors, gave green stones to the men who visited them. This was believed to be Amazonite, but was probably nephrite (jade).




A Brazilian legend boasts of the Amazon people giving ''green stones'' to the visitors of the region. Europeans were already familiar with green microcline (my-krO-kline) from Russia and assumed the blue-green rock given to them by the Indians of South America was the same stone. As it turns out, Amazonite is not found in the Amazon Basin and the legend was most likely referring to Nephrite (jade). It is believed that Amazonite was first called ''Amazon Stone,'' and was later changed to amazonite.

The gemstone is found mainly in the U.S.A., Russia, Madagascar, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Australia.



Metaphysical:



Amazonite is believed to have many healing characteristics, including improving your skin, marriage, clarity of thought and social interaction. It is said to calm one's emotions and soothe nerves, and to enhance creativity and the ability to express oneself. Perhaps the strongest recommendation of its metaphysical powers is that Amazonite is said to make your married life happier. It improves your sense of self worth. It is called the hope stone because it inspires confidence and hope.


The healing powers of gems remain a controversial issue, but are mentioned for centuries by healers, shamans and medicine men. Whether it’s a fact or a placebo effect doesn’t matter, if it helps. The safest approach is to wear the gemstone in skin contact to the troubled part of the body. Amazonite is said to calm one's emotions and soothe nerves, and to enhance creativity and the ability to express oneself. The deeper the color of the amazonite, the more intense the effect is said to be.




Care:
Amazonite should be cleaned in lukewarm soapy water, never with a steamer or ultrasonic cleaner. Abrasives, acids and other chemicals can damage amazonite, as can scratches and sharp blows.

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