Place your jewelry in the solution for about 1 minute and rinse with clean water and air dry. This works great on Sterling Silver too and it will not hurt any stones. If you have a build-up of dirt in hard to reach places, just put a little dish washing liquid in a bowl of water and soak over night.
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An iridescent opal-like play of color is shown in fine specimens, mostly in shades of green and red; all the spectral colors are possible, however. The iridescence is due to the microstructure of the aragonite: unlike most other gems, whose colors come from light absorption, the iridescent color of ammolite comes from interference with the light that rebounds from stacked layers of thin platelets that make up the aragonite.
The thicker the layers, the more reds and greens are produced; the thinner the layers, the more blues and violets predominate. Reds and greens are the most commonly seen colors, owing to the greater fragility of the finer layers responsible for the blues.
When freshly quarried, these colors are not especially dramatic; the material requires polishing and possibly other treatments in order to reveal the colors' full potential. The ammolite itself is actually a very thin sheet, ca. Rarely is ammolite without its matrix , which is typically a grey to brown shale , chalky clay , or limestone.
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So-called "frost shattering" is common; exposed to the elements and compressed by sediments, the thin ammolite tends to crack and flake; prolonged exposure to sunlight can also lead to bleaching. The cracking results in a tessellated appearance, sometimes described as a " dragon skin" or " stained glass window" pattern. Ammolite mined from deeper deposits may be entirely smooth or with a rippled surface.
Occasionally a complete ammonite shell is recovered with its structure well-preserved: fine, convoluted lines delineate the shell chambers, and the overall shape is suggestive of a nautilus. While these shells may be as large as 90 centimeters Most fossilized shells have had their aragonite pseudomorphously replaced by calcite or pyrite, making the presence of ammolite particularly uncommon.
Ammolite comes from the fossil shells of the Upper Cretaceous disk-shaped ammonites Placenticeras meeki and Placenticeras intercalare , and to a lesser degree the cylindrical baculite , Baculites compressus. Ammonites were cephalopods , that thrived in tropical seas until becoming extinct along with the dinosaurs at the end of the Mesozoic era. The ammonites that form ammolite inhabited a prehistoric, inland subtropical sea that bordered the Rocky Mountains—this area is known today as the Cretaceous or Western Interior Seaway.
As the ammonites died, they sank to the bottom and were buried by layers of bentonitic mud that eventually became shale. Many gem-quality ammonites are found within siderite concretions. These sediments preserved the aragonite of the shells, preventing it from converting to calcite. Significant deposits of gem-quality ammolite are only found in the Bearpaw Formation that extends from Alberta to Saskatchewan in Canada and south to Montana in the USA.
However, small deposits have been found as far south as Central Utah which also contains gem-quality ammolite. Most commercial mining operations have been conducted along the banks of the St. Mary River , in an area south of and between the town of Magrath and the city of Lethbridge.
Roughly half of all ammolite deposits are contained within the Kainah Kainaiwa reserve , and its inhabitants play a major role in ammolite mining. Since its founding in , Korite has operated primarily within the reservation. The company had an agreement with the Kainah Blood tribe , with Korite paying the tribe royalties based on how much land the company has mined.
This agreement has expired. It prohibited the Blood Tribe members from surface mining along the banks and cliffs of the St. Mary River. There were about 35 licensed Blood surface miners in The surface miners are self employed mining in all kinds of weather. Some miners also restore the fossils they find or resell their finds to other fabricators.
Commercial extraction is mechanized but fairly basic: shallow open pits are dug with a backhoe and the excavated material is screened for its potential gem contents.
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The pits are further examined by hand, and commercial production is supplemented by individuals who sell their surface-picked findings to Korite and several other producers. The ammolite within this layer is covered by siderite concretions and is usually cracked—this is the crush material. It is the most common and generally speaking the least valuable of ammolite. This is the sheet material; due to its depth it is rarely mined. It is also much less fractured, and therefore the more valuable type of ammolite. As of [update] , Korite has mined over acres of ammolite deposits.
The company employs over people and accounts for approximately 90 percent of world gem ammolite production. Prospectors who wish to mine ammolite deposits on Crown land must apply to the Alberta Department of Energy for a lease. However, this system is not yet standardized and some vendors may use their own systems.
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