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Ammolite Jewelry From Canada - ammolite in silver

Ammolite Quality--What you should know.

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Operating a business that markets ammolite jewelry often involves answering questions from those who have just seen ammolite for the first time and are instantly captivated by it and want to know more before making their first purchase.

This is a sensible reaction-- so here I will outline some important things you should know if you are looking for a QUALITY piece of ammolite jewelry.

Almost all ammolite is colourful-- so new buyers often will grab a piece that is sub standard and pay a high price for it absent the knowledge needed to select a good piece at a reasonable price.

Quality gem ammolite is rare and in very short supply and comes from a tiny spot in south Alberta Canada in which there are only two mines in operation.These mines are simple digs that unearth the remnants of ancient sea creatures called ammonites that went extinct about 80 million years ago.

Now ammonites are dug up all over the world and are generally dull brown Nautilus shell look a likes--perhaps with a bit of  colour sheen on them which are often sliced and deliberately misrepresented as ammolite and sold to an unsuspecting public as such.

Ebay facilitates this charade by refusing to recognize the difference between ammonite and ammolite allowing this sort of misrepresentation to flourish. Ebay is also OK with allowing very low quality ammolite set in silver plated common metal as "Fine" jewelry in "Sterling Silver".You can verify this by simply going to Ebay and searching the term "ammolite jewelry" and watch how many dull brown ammonite fossils show up in the search masquerading as gem ammolite.

Caveat Emptor--beware--it is up to YOU to know the difference.

Back to the two mines in Alberta!

Much rough ammonite material is dug out of these mines.Under 10% of this material falls into the top two grades and makes it to the cutter/finishers table to produce the top grades of ammolites.Over 90% of production is lower grade material that is worth a fraction of the top two grades.

This intensely coloured gem material is a very thin and rather delicate material and is found fossilized onto its host shale rock.

No one knows why only on this spot on earth this material is so brightly coloured--but no other place has been found where such high coloured ammonites have been found to exist of a quality to produce top quality ammolite.

When the rough material is presented to the cutter/finisher it is still in its ammonite form and must be processed into its gem ammolite form through a series of processes which start with preserving and strengthening the gem material by applying chemical bonding agents under vacuum pressure followed by a graduated series of polishes to create a mirror finish of intense colour which completes its transformation from a rough ammonite to an ammolite gemstone which was officially recognized as such by the World Coloured Gemstone Stone Commission in 1981 and became Alberta's official gemstone shortly thereafter.

So now you know the difference between ammonite and ammolite,where its from and how it is made--and I can stop tediously colouring the words to show the difference!

Now to grading ammolite for quality.

I use the same grading system as used by the biggest producers of ammmolite:

AA: Highest grade displaying three or more brilliant sharp colours.

A+: Two or more bright colours.

A: At least one bright distinct color or play of color. Dark areas are more apparent.

Standard: Colors are slightly less distinct and may show directional color.

B: Faint, less distinct color. Poor brilliance.

C: Commercial grade. Not suitable for jewelry.

Now you should know that only about 10% of mine production makes it into the top two grades which are the only grades I carry in my store and are graded A or the very top grade which is AA.

Here is an image of an AA grade ammolite triplet pendant from my shop:

When you shop at online sources such as Ebay you will find that most of what is offered is of the lowest grades--- offered at "wholesale" prices.These are mostly Standard, B or C grades--often covered with a deep coat of epoxy to hide their deficiencies and are worth only a few dollars a piece.That is not to say you cannot find good ammolite jewelry on Ebay--you can--there are a few sellers of very good jewelry there--you just need to know whats good and whats not.

The image above will serve as a guide to help you identify good quality ammolite.

Note three strong vivid colours and even a hint of a fourth.This is the quality that quality seekers should look for.


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