Ammolite is a trade name for gem-quality Ammonite. These gems are cut from the fossilized shells of three extinct species of mollusk that lived in ancient oceans that covered North America more than 70 million years ago. Ammonite refers to any fossil shell of any ammonite species, whether or not the material is gem-quality.
Ammolites are found only in the Bear Paw Formation of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada and opalescent shell from other localities is usually called Lumachelle. This rare organic gemstone exhibits beautiful iridescence on the shell surface and is available in an array of colors and patterns.
On the Market
Commercial jewelry featuring Ammolite entered the market in 1969, and in 1981, and Ammolite was recognized by the Colored Stone Commission of the World Jewelry Confederation (CIBJO) as an organic gemstone. Only about 5% of the material found in Alberta is suitable for gems, and is sold under the trade name Korite or Calcentine. The Ammolite industry has not agreed to a singular grading system, so most stones are graded by color, iridescence, pattern name or brightness.
Sheet Ammolite is free of fractures or cracks and most valued variety. Other Ammolite patterns like Dragon Skin, Feather or Cobblestone are named for their appearance and some of the rarer patterns and colors are highly sought by collectors. High grade gem material has a strong and bright single color or a range of brilliant color. Lower grade stones are less vibrant or in a limited color range. Red and green are the most common colors, and gold, blue and violet are more rare.
Enhancements and treatment
Resin fracture sealers and lacquer are used to stabilize most Ammolite. Natural cabochons are sold by carat weight, and are always hand finished. Most gems are uncoated and typically cut on their original fossil shale backing. Doublet Ammolites are created from thin material that has been bonded to a backing, and triplets can be constructed on thin, neutral gray shale bonded beneath the Ammolite. Most assembled stones are capped with transparent or optical quartz or synthetic Spinel to both protect and enhance the iridescent material.
Natural Ammonite shells are golden mean spirals. Ammolite is thought to assist the user in building structure, calming chaos and clearing unnecessary clutter. Energy from an Ammolite may protect the wearer from temptation, dispel negativity in partnerships and help to overcome barriers to unconditional love. Perfection, knowledge and wisdom are traits associated with this stone and the spiral representation of the Fibonacci sequence of numbers is thought to help the wearer let go of the past and allow forward future movement.
Caring for Ammolite jewelry
Ammolite gems should be treated as you would pearls. Natural stones and doublets are sensitive to heat, acids, and many perfumes or hairsprays. They are suitable for brooches, pendants, or earrings. To provide protection to the delicate layer, choose a triplet stone for a ring. Avoid mechanical ultrasonic or steam cleaning and instead choose warm, soapy water and a soft brush. Excessive heat may damage the gem or cause a loss of iridescence.