15 Clear Facts About Amber

15 Clear Facts About Amber

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Its (mostly) orange-hued transparence has evocatively preserved long-extinct animals for millions of years. It’s adorned our necklaces, bracelets, and pendants for millennia. Learn 15 dazzling facts about this clearly sublime substance.

1. AMBER IS A GEM—BUT NOT A GEMSTONE.

Amber is not a mineral, but the hardened resin of certain trees fossilized over long periods of time. Because it forms a translucent orange-yellow substance that glows when polished and held up to light, it has long been used in jewelry and other decorations. The proper classification for organic gems like coral, pearl, and amber is gem material, not gemstone.

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2. THE LARGEST AMBER DEPOSITS IN THE WORLD ARE IN THE BALTIC REGION.

botanical paper published by The Royal Society estimates that over 105 tons of Baltic amber were produced by Palaeogene forests in northern Europe, making this the largest single known deposit of fossilized plant resin. Baltic amber is also considered the highest quality, with the best preservation of anatomical detail of fossil insects of any age.

3. AMBER WAS ONCE PART OF A TREE’S IMMUNE SYSTEM.

When a tree is punctured or scratched, the tree releases a sticky substance called resinto seal the wounded area. Over time, chemically stable kinds of resin will harden and form the pretty, translucent version of amber that you are familiar with. Thus amber is the hardened, stable resin of ancient trees.

4. IT REQUIRES MILLIONS OF YEARS AND PROPER BURIAL CONDITIONS TO FORM.

Most forms of resin are chemically unstable and will decay over time rather than harden. When a stable resin gets buried in the right conditions, such as in water sediments that formed the bottom of a lagoon or delta, sedimentary clay, shale, and sandstones associated with layers of lignite, a brown coal, it hardens through “progressive oxidation and polymerization of the original organic compounds, oxygenated hydrocarbons,” according to Emporia State University’s Susie Ward Aber. The majority of amber is found within Cretaceous and Paleogene sedimentary rocks (approximately 30 to 90 million years old).

5. THE WORD ELECTRICITY DERIVES FROM THE GREEK WORD FOR AMBER.

According to the Swedish Museum of Amber, over 2500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus discovered that when amber was rubbed against cloth, it produced sparks and attracted feathers, husks, and small wooden splinters. This force was given the name “electricity”after the Greek word elektron,which means “amber.”

6. MANY CREATURES HAVE BEEN TRAPPED IN AMBER—AND SO HAS A DINOSAUR “FEATHER.”

Lots of creatures have ended their lives fully intact in amber. Frogs, Anolis lizards, and geckos, as well as snake skins, bird feathers, the hair and bones of mammals, and various plant materials have been preserved in amber. More than half the inclusions found in amber are flies, while others include ants, beetles, moths, spiders, centipedes, termites, gnats, bees, cockroaches, grasshoppers and fleas. Fine Baltic amber from Estonia, however, will have only one inclusion in every thousand pieces found. One of the more exciting inclusions was the discovery of what scientists say may be the “feather” of a theropod dinosaur.

7. SCIENTISTS HAVE TRIED TO EXTRACT DNA FROM INSECTS TRAPPED WITHIN IT.

Despite the success of the movie franchise Jurassic Park, in which fictional scientists reanimate dinosaurs from DNA trapped in amber, real scientists have not successfully extracted functioning DNA from insects trapped in amber, though they haven’t given up trying. (Reports from the early 1990s of 120-million-year-old insect DNA have been thoroughly discounted.) DNA, it turns out, has a half-life of 521 years. That means in 521 years, half of the bonds between nucleotides in a DNA sample will have broken; after another 521 years half of the remaining bonds would have gone; and so on.

8. MULTIPLE EXTINCT SPECIES HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED THANKS TO AMBER.

Because of the unique way that amber traps and preserves insects and animals inside it, these finds have helped paleontologists to reconstruct life on earth in its early origins, and more than 1000 extinct species of insects have been identified as a result of amber.

9. BALTIC AMBER HAS BEEN FOUND IN EGYPTIAN TOMBS.

The Ancient Egyptians really liked amber; there are many reports of amber and other similar resin products being found in tombs dating back to 3200 BCE. Some scholars think that these resins were intended to represent the “tears of Ra.” Whatever the significance, the origin of some of this amber is believed to have been the Baltic Coast, more than 1500 miles away.

10. SOME BELIEVE AMBER HAS HEALING POWERS AND THE POWER TO WARD OFF WITCHES.

Much folklore exists around the “powers” of amber through the ages. Before modern medicine, amber was worn as a necklace or charm, or carried around in small bags, as a remedy against gout, rheumatism, sore throats, toothache, and stomachache. In fact, some modern parents still purchase their children Baltic amber necklaces with the belief that it helps prevent the pain of teething. While no science confirms that it relieves pain, there is a small amount of research suggesting that succinic acid, which is found in Baltic amber, may be beneficial. However, most doctors are dubious of the claims there is enough acid in a necklace to have any effect, or that it can be released from amber into the skin.

It was also believed that amber could help labor progress, and protect against snakebites, or that it contained powerful magic protection against evil forces and witchcraft.

11. HUMANS HAVE USED AMBER IN JEWELRY SINCE AT LEAST 11,000 BCE.

Amber which was polished and carved to make jewelry or decorations dating back to 11,000 BCE. has been found at archeological sites in England. It was used to make varnish as long ago as 250 BCE and powdered amber was used in incense.

12. THE OLDEST AMBER IS 320 MILLION YEARS OLD.

The vast majority of amber is younger than 90 million years old, but there are examples which are much older. In 2009, researchers discovered a 320-million-year-old piece of amber in an Illinois coal mine, which unexpectedly was very similar to more modern resins. This discovery completely upended the entire early evolutionary history of plants and showed resins were much older than was previously thought. The oldest animals found trapped in amber date from the Triassic, around 90 million years later. Despite being 230 million years old, these mites preserved in the amber are strikingly similar to today’s gall mites.

13. AMBER CONFUSED EARLY HUMANS.

According to Judith Frondel, author of the book Amber Facts and Fancies, early modern humans, unsure what to make of these yellow glimmers that often washed up on shore, believed amber to be consolidated lynx urine, sunlight solidifying on ocean waves, or tears of birds from India.

14. AMBER HAS BEEN FOUND IN MORE THAN 300 COLORS.

The most commonly admired colors of amber are in the yellow to orange range, but it has been cataloged in as many as 300 colors, even leaning toward green or blue due to the inclusion of plant material.

15. IT’S EASY TO BE FOOLED BY FAKE AMBER.

The advent of the plastic known as Bakelite made it possible to create fake, but realistic looking, “amber.” To determine if amber is real, scrape it with a knife. Fake amber flakes, real amber is powdery. Real amber should also float in salt water, and will warm up quickly in your hand.

http://mentalfloss.com/article/73608/15-clear-facts-about-amber

Amazing Facts About Amazonite

Amazing Facts About Amazonite

As the title of this post suggests, Amazonite really is quite an amazing gemstone! Not only does it look incredibly beautiful when worn as jewelry, it has an interesting history and some pretty awesome healing and metaphysical properties too.

Amazonite is a variety of Microcline, which belongs to the Feldspar group of minerals and forms in masses or tabular crystals. Feldspar is one of the most abundant types of mineral in the world, but only a few varieties can be classed as gemstone quality.

In terms of appearance, this gemstone is found in colors ranging from soft milky green to blue-green or turquoise. Some varieties have a mottled or spider-webbed pattern. Amazonite’s unique color is created from small quantities of lead and water.

This is a relatively inexpensive gemstone, making it a popular choice for use in jewelry-making. It’s often cut into cabochons or beads! This is a gemstone that’s very soft and because of this, it can fracture or break easily, so it should be handled with care.

History of Amazonite

This beautiful gem is sometimes called “Amazon Stone”. It’s named after the Amazon River in Brazil where it was first believed to have been discovered thousands of years ago. Whether this stone was actually found there is uncertain now as mineralogists have since claimed that there are no Amazonite deposits in the Amazon itself. Gemstones found there are assumed to be nephrite Jade instead.

Amazonite is still found in other parts of Brazil however, as well as the USA, Australia, Russia and Madagascar. It is said to have been used as far back as the 10th century B.C. by the semi-mythical Amazonians – a tribe of powerful female warriors, who wore it as part of their shields. It was also worn as jewelry thousands of years ago in South and Central America.

Healing and metaphysical properties of Amazonite

Amazonite promotes general good physical health. It’s believed to help the human body to heal after trauma or illness. In particular, it has associations with treating the nervous system, throat and thyroid gland.

It is also known as the Stone of Courage because it helps the wearer to eliminate personal fears, combat loneliness and get past conflict or confrontation more easily. This is a calming gemstone which helps to provide balance and harmony, in relationships and in general everyday life.

Amazonite could be a useful gemstone to wear while working because it also promotes positive energy and it has links with prosperity too – it’s said that it can help bring about new business opportunities!

In addition, this gemstone is thought to be a good luck stone and may help the wearer to win a game of chance, a competition, or in fact any kind of financial endeavour!

When you factor in the beautiful appearance of Amazonite, its interesting characteristics and healing properties along with the fact that you can buy it at a reasonable price, it’s no wonder that this is such a popular gemstone today.

Amazing Facts About Amazonite

10 Interesting Facts About Agate Gemstone

10 Interesting Facts About Agate Gemstone

Bright colored agates have won the minds of the people across the world. This ancient gemstone has been used since prehistoric ages. Its appearance is so overwhelming that people continue to use it in various forms of jewelry. Each of these easily available gems is unique, as you will never find two agates to share the same looks even if taken from the same specimen. The cavities of ancient volcanic rocks are where agates develop. Belonging to the family of chalcedony, agate is reputed for being the only banded form in the family. Like every gemstone, agate too has its share of interesting facts and myths revolving around it. Let us take a look at 10 of them.

1) Agate earns its name from the River Achates in Sicily, where it was said to be originally found. The river is now called Drillo River but it owns the credit of giving the famous gemstone its name.

2) There are evidences to prove that these gemstones were in use as back as 20000 BC to 16000 BC. Historical evidences point out that the Stone Age men of Western Europe used the gemstone. Records show that in 400 BC, the gemstone was used by Greeks to make jewelry and beads.

3) Being an ancient gemstone and thanks to its hardness and colorful appearance, it was one amongst the first materials familiar to mankind. In the ancient days, it was believed that wearing agates made the wearer friendly, truthful and persuasive. In short, it was considered to broaden the perspective of life.

4) In Persian culture, the gemstone was considered effective in preventing storms. It was believed to relieve the wearer from thirst. Various cultures across the world considered agate to be a gemstone that was protective.

5) Agate is associated with certain curative properties as well. It is said to be effective for insomnia, allergies, skin diseases, stress and a lot more.

6) Agate bowls were very famous in the past. Mithradates, the king of Pontus has treasured three thousand bowls made of agate gemstones. Even today, some of the collections of agate bowls by royal families are on display in the museums of European countries.

7) Sumerians own the credit of using agates in the making of seals, beads and other jewelry forms.

8) In the ancient times, Arabs and Persians set agate on their finger rings. These agates carried carvings of Koran verse or some symbolic figure, which the people believed would save them from hazards.

9) Agates seem to have some specific significance associated with the 12th and 14th wedding anniversaries. They are gifted to couples who celebrate the completion of 12 or 14 years of wedded life.

10) Agates of different colors seem to have association with various physical and mental properties. Every color of agate has certain features and hence those who wear agate, look out for the appropriate color to address their needs. This gemstone is considered to be a great gemstone for conditions related to pregnancy and it is said to protect the mother and the child.

Agate gemstones are said to possess various properties. Just like their appearance appeals to the senses, their qualities appeal to the minds. It is hence no wonder that the popularity of agate is growing steadily with each day.

http://www.gemstonebuzz.com/agate/facts

Afghanite

Afghanite

Afghanite is a rare, complex alumino-silicate mineral with the chemical formula (Na,Ca,K)8[Al4Si6O24](SO4,Cl2,CO3)3 · 0.5H2O . Afghanite is a somewhat recent arrival in the world of gemstones; having first been described in 1968 from a find in a location famed for another blue mineral, Lapis Lazuli – in the Sar-e-Sang (aka. Sary-Sang) mine in the Badakhshan Province of Afghanistan. [1]

Afghanite
Afghanite
(faceted, from Afghanistan. 1.45 carat)
Image © supplied by Woodmansee* Gems

Not only have both minerals been found in the same mine (even within the same rock [1] ), but they also have strong similarities in their chemical composition – and the Lazurite responsible for the blue coloration of Lapis Lazuli has the similar chemical formula (Na,Ca)8(AlSiO4)6(SO4,S,Cl)2

Although named from the discovery in Afghanistan in 1968, Afghanite was actually discovered over 100 years earlier in the Mount Vesuvius region of Italy. At the time of this first discovery it was described by Italian mineralogist Arcangelo Scacchi and subsequently named “Natrodavyne” in 1910. Scacci’s samples, buried in the collection of the Mineralogical Museum of the University of Rome, were rediscovered and confirmed to be Afghanite in 1994. [2]

The best crystals of afghanite yet found have come from Sar-e-Sang [3], although the mineral has also been discovered in other locations – including Tuscany, Latium and Campania (Italy), Germany, the Pamir Mountains (Tajikistan), Baffin Island (Canada), near Lake Baikal (Siberia), New York, Russia (1975) and Newfoundland. [1] [4] Afghanite is only rarely found in crystalline form at these other locations – and most of the world’s discrete Afghanite crystals have come from Sar-e-Sang. [3]

Afghanite is typically blue but can also on occasion be found in an almost colorless, transparent form. It has a hardness of 5.5 to 6 (Mohs) and is occasionally seen set into jewelry such as pendants, necklaces, and earrings – although as it is slightly soft, great care must be taken not to subject the stone to damage. It is not recommended for types of jewelry that may be subject to greater wear, such as bracelets or rings. [5]

Afghanite is a rare mineral, and is not often found as a gemstone and in jewelry settings owing to the fact that mineral collectors purchase the majority of the gem quality Afghanite than might be suitable. It’s said that there may be more Afghanite located in remote parts of Afghanistan but that these regions are difficult to access. [5]

Under short wave UV light, afghanite fluoresces brightly with shades of orange-yellow. Afghanite crystals are often rounded and to find them in the natural state with sharply defined edges and crystal faces is uncommon. The crystals are small – seldom more than 2-3cm in length. [6] Afghanite exhibits perfect cleavage in one direction and is a feldspathoid mineral of the cancrinite group. [7] Other examples of feldspathoid minerals are leucite, nepheline, analcime, cancrinite, hauyne, lazurite and sodalite. [8]

Unfaceted Afghanite

Afghanite

 

http://www.gemstoneslist.com/afghanite.html

Why Friday the 13th is known as a day of bad luck

Why Friday the 13th is known as a day of bad luck

Five things you didn’t know about Friday the 13th

Five things you didn’t know about Friday the 13th from how it is perceived in other countries to lore about the famous 1980 movie of the same name. VPC

Everyone knows Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day. But why does it have such a bad reputation?

One reason is that both Friday and the number 13 have some troubled ties to Christianity.

It was on a Friday that Jesus was crucified, and ever since, the day has been associated with “general ill omen,” Michael Bailey, a history professor at Iowa State University who specializes in the origins of superstitions, tells USA TODAY Network.

In the Middle Ages, for instance, weddings were not held on Fridays; likewise, it was not a day someone would set out on a journey, Bailey says.

Friday was also unlucky in medieval times because it was “hangman’s day,” says Stuart Vyse, a psychology professor at Connecticut College, in an interview with USA TODAY Network.

As for the number 13, Vyse says, seating 13 people at a table was seen as bad luck because Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, is said to have been the 13th guest at the Last Supper.

It’s unclear exactly when Friday and the number 13 became linked, but there are no mentions of Friday the 13th before the 19th century, Bailey and Vyse say.

In 1907, Thomas Lawson wrote a book titled Friday, the Thirteenth, which described a stockbroker choosing this day to bring down Wall Street.

More recently, the Friday the 13th slasher-movie franchise, which started in 1980, further solidified this day’s notoriety.

Vyse, who specializes in the psychology of superstitions, says these kinds of beliefs are a way for people to “control the uncontrollable” and manage the anxiety that comes with uncertain situations.

Although there’s evidence that believing in lucky symbols is beneficial, taboo superstitions such as Friday the 13th represent a kind of phobia, Vyse says.

In fact, fear of Friday the 13th has a name: paraskevidekatriaphobia.

In Vyse’s view, “we would be better off if no one had ever taught them to us.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/06/13/friday-the-thirteenth-origins-bad-luck/10376945/

Interesting Alexandrite Facts & History

Interesting Alexandrite Facts & History

Everything to Know About June’s Birthstone

Color Change Alexandrite Gemstone
David Weinberg / Wikipedia Commons

Alexandrite is one of those gemstones that everyone would love to own, but few people do because it’s so rare and expensive. If you inherited a large alexandrite stone, get it tested because it’s possible it’s a synthetic stone.

These 21 alexandrite facts will shed some more light on why June’s birthstone is so valuable:

What is Alexandrite?

  1. Alexandrite is part of the chrysoberyl family along with chrysoberyl cat’s eye.
  1. Alexandrite appears blueish green in sunlight and reddish purple under artificial light like a light bulb.
  2. The color-change quality in alexandrite is due to trace amounts of chromium. Chromium is also the trace element that makes beryl emerald‘s green.

When was Alexandrite Discovered?

  1. French mineralist Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld discovered alexandrite in the Ural mountains of Russia in 1834.  However, some accounts suggest the stone was found as early as the late 1700’s.
  2. When Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld first found alexandrite in Russia, he thought the stone was an emerald.
  3. The gem was named after Russian Czar, Alexander II, who was assassinated in 1881.
  4. Even though this gemstone doesn’t have a very long history, it has been strongly associated with good fortune and is said to enhance creativity and focus.
  5. The mines in the Ural region of Russia no longer produce large amounts of gem quality alexandrite.
  1. Alexandrite is now mined in parts of Africa, Brazil, and Sri Lanka though the gem is still extremely rare and valuable.
  2. Most large scale alexandrite gemstones are found in antique Russian period pieces from the Victorian era. Victorian jewelry from England also featured alexandrite gemstones, but they were usually much smaller.

How Rare is Alexandrite?

  1. Natural alexandrite is rarer than diamonds and more costly than emerald, ruby, and sapphire.
  2. Any alexandrite over 3 carats is highly uncommon.  Smaller stones are more readily available to commercial jewelers.
  3. Top quality natural Alexandrite can cost more than $30,000 per carat.
  4. Pricing of Alexandrite is based primarily on the strength of the color change and the purity of the hue.
  5. Unlike many other gemstones, natural alexandrite is often left untreated.
  6. Not only does alexandrite change colors, but in extremely rare cases it can also exhibit chatoyancy, or the cat-eye effect. This is when a white line shines down the center of the gemstone and moves around as the stone moves under a light source.
  7. Because of the intense color change in alexandrite, color changing abilities in other gemstones have become known as the alexandrite effect.

What is Synthetic Alexandrite?

  1. Due to the gemstone’s rarity, many types of imitations and synthetics have been on the market since the early 1900’s.  Fake alexandrite from the 1920’s was made out of the mineral corundum (sapphire and ruby) and then laced with chromium or vanadium to create the color change effect.
  2. Synthetic alexandrite composed of chrysoberyl has been around since the 1960’s. It is a very costly process, so this type of synthetic alexandrite is still very expensive.

Famous Alexandrite

  1. The Smithsonian has the largest known faceted 66 carat alexandrite on display in their museum.
  2. The largest uncut gem-quality alexandrite specimen ever found is the Sauer Alexandrite that weighs 122,5400 carats and was found in Bahia, Brazil in 1967.

https://www.thespruce.com/alexandrite-history-2042966

A list of Precious and Semi Precious Gemstones and their Treatments

A list of Precious and Semi Precious Gemstones and their Treatments

list of Precious and Semi Precious Gemstones and their TreatmentsIn today’s market there are literally hundreds of gemstones to choose from. Here you will find a comprehensive list of gemstones that we sell here on Gem Rock Auctions. The list of gemstones below will discuss the difference between a precious stone and a semi precious stone as well as guide you to where the gemstone treatments are discussed.

What Is A Precious Stone?

What is the difference between precious stones and semi precious stones? These terms are based on old traditions from the west. These days, all gemstones are considered precious since they are all rare and there is a limited supply of them.

 

The traditional list of gemstones that are considered precious stones are:

List Of Precious and Semi Precious Stones

Here you will find a list of gemstones that we sell on Gem Rock Auctions. Click on any of the gemstone below to view the stones for sale by our verified sellers and learn more about it.

Afghanite

Afghanite

Agate

Agate

Alexandrite

Alexandrite

Amazonite

Amazonite

Amber

Amber

Amethyst

Amethyst

Ametrine

Ametrine

Ammolite

Ammolite

Andalusite

Andalusite

Andesine Feldspar

Andesine Feldspar

Apatite

Apatite

Aquamarine

Aquamarine

Aventurine

Aventurine

Azurite

Azurite

Azurite with Malachite

Azurite with Malachite

Bastnasite

Bastnasite

Beads

Beads

Benitoite

Benitoite

Beryl

Beryl

Black Star Diopside

Black Star Diopside

Bloodstone

Bloodstone

Calcite

Calcite

Calligraphy Stone

Calligraphy Stone

Carnelian

Carnelian

Cavansite

Cavansite

Chalcedony

Chalcedony

Charoite

Charoite

Chrome Diopside

Chrome Diopside

Chrysanthemum Flower Stone

Chrysanthemum Flower Stone

Chrysoberyl

Chrysoberyl

Chrysocolla

Chrysocolla

Chrysoprase

Chrysoprase

Citrine

Citrine

Coral

Coral

Crinoid

Crinoid

Danburite

Danburite

Diamonds

Diamonds

Diaspore

Diaspore

Dioptase

Dioptase

Druzy

Druzy

Emerald

Emerald

Eudialyte

Eudialyte

Fire Agate

Fire Agate

Fluorite

Fluorite

Fuchsite

Fuchsite

Garnet

Garnet

Hackmanite

Hackmanite

Heliodor

Heliodor

Hematite

Hematite

Hiddenite

Hiddenite

Howlite

Howlite

Iolite

Iolite

Ironstone

Ironstone

Jade

Jade

Jasper

Jasper

Kunzite

Kunzite

Kyanite

Kyanite

Labradorite

Labradorite

Lapis Lazuli

Lapis Lazuli

Larimar

Larimar

Lava Rock

Lava Rock

Lepidolite

Lepidolite

Magnetite

Magnetite

Malachite

Malachite

Meteorite

Meteorite

Mexican Fire Opal

Mexican Fire Opal

Moldavite

Moldavite

Moonstone

Moonstone

Morganite

Morganite

Mystic Quartz

Mystic Quartz

Obsidian

Obsidian

Onyx

Onyx

Opalite

Opalite

Orthoclase

Orthoclase

Pearl

Pearl

Peridot

Peridot

Peruvian Blue Opal

Peruvian Blue Opal

Petalite

Petalite

Pietersite

Pietersite

Prasiolite (Green Amethyst)

Prasiolite (Green Amethyst)

Prehnite

Prehnite

Pyrite

Pyrite

Quartz

Quartz

Rhodochrosite

Rhodochrosite

Rhodonite

Rhodonite

Rhyolite

Rhyolite

Rubelite

Rubelite

Ruby

Ruby

Ruby & Zoisite

Ruby & Zoisite

Sapphire

Sapphire

Scapolite

Scapolite

Selenite

Selenite

Septarian

Septarian

Seraphinite

Seraphinite

Serpentine

Serpentine

Shell Stones

Shell Stones

Shiva Lingam

Shiva Lingam

Sillimanite

Sillimanite

Sodalite

Sodalite

Spectrolite

Spectrolite

Sphalerite

Sphalerite

Sphene

Sphene

Spinel

Spinel

Spodumene

Spodumene

Stichtite

Stichtite

Sugilite

Sugilite

Sunstone

Sunstone

Super Seven

Super Seven

Tanzanite

Tanzanite

Tektite

Tektite

Tiffany Stone

Tiffany Stone

Tiger Eye

Tiger Eye

Tiger Iron

Tiger Iron

Topaz

Topaz

Tourmaline

Tourmaline

Tremolite

Tremolite

Triphane

Triphane

Turkiyenite

Turkiyenite

Turquoise

Turquoise

Variscite

Variscite

Verdite

Verdite

Zebra Rock

Zebra Rock

Zircon

Zircon

Zoisite

Zoisite

https://www.gemrockauctions.com/learn/additional-gemstone-information/a-list-of-precious-and-semi-precious-gemstones-and-their-treatments

Top 10 Most Valuable Precious Metals

Top 10 Most Valuable Precious Metals

Shiny Top 10Interesting Engineering posted an article in its Science section as to the Top 10 most valuable precious metals. Can you guess them all?  I bet you surmised that silver and gold would be at the top, but you may not have even heard of the others, like osmium and indium.  According to Lara Lopes, the author of the article:

Rarity alone isn’t enough to qualify a metal as precious. It must also be naturally occurring, lustrous and ductile, possess a high melting point and low reactivity and, most important to anyone wishing to wear jewelry made from the metal, it must not be radioactive. All of these factors contribute to a metal’s value and cost per gram isn’t necessarily the best indicator of how valuable the metal is to the human race.

According to Lopes, here are the top 10 precious metals, and a brief explanation of why they made the list.  For more details and full explanations, go to http://interestingengineering.com/top-10-most-valuable-precious-metals/ [Editor’s Note:  This article is no longer available on the Interesting Engineering site]

  1. Gold: Gold’s desirable properties, broad scope of functioning uses, history within finance, and popularity in jewelry all contribute to its position as the most valuable precious metal to mankind. 
  2. RhodiumA member of the platinum group of metals itself, rhodium is most commonly found mixed with other platinum group metals. This makes it difficult to extract, which can only increase its value. 
  3. Platinum: Platinum is considered a noble metal and has made a name for itself through its malleability, density and non-corrosive properties.
  4. Ruthenium: Ruthenium has become quite popular in the electronics field, as a way to effectively plate electric contacts.
  5. Iridium: This whitish metal has a super high melting point, is one of the densest elements around and stands as the most corrosion-resistant metal. 
  6. OsmiumThis very hard, brittle metal has an extremely high melting point and is used to harden platinum alloys for electrical contacts, filaments and other uses. 
  7. Palladium: Automobile makers rely on it for their catalytic converters to reduce emissions and is used heavily in electronic applications.
  8. Rhenium: Rhenium is used in high-temperature superalloys that are employed to make jet engine parts, by means of 70% of the universal rhenium productions.
  9. Silver: This element has great electrical and thermal conductivity, as well as the lowest contact resistance of all the metals.
  10. Indium: During World War II, it was used as a coating for bearings in aircraft engines, but it can also be used to create corrosive-resistant mirrors, semiconductors, alloys and electrical conductivity in flat-panel devices. 

Prices of these precious metals can average over $1,000 per ounce, and some of these metals are very rare but in high demand for use in our everyday lives. So it is important that any metals used in the various applications above be analyzed for their purity. If the metal is misidentified or alloyed with the wrong metal, the results may be disastrous. Something as small as a metal fastener, alloyed with the wrong material, can cause accidents to happen in the automotive and aerospace industries.  If a rhenium supply had contaminants and was used to make a jet engine part, there could be a risk to all the passengers.  The six platinum group metals (PGMs), — composed of platinum (Pt), palladium (Pd), rhodium (Rh), iridium (Ir), ruthenium (Ru) and osmium (Os) — are instrumental in healthcare and life-saving medical devices and implants so the raw materials used in these items need to be verified before being placed in a human body. Even contaminants in silver can adversely affect the quality of jewelry, as well as health.  What if the silver was mixed with a toxic element?

Throughout the precious metal life cycle – from refining to recycling – the goal is always to ensure quality, control costs, and achieve accurate purity analysis. With the volatility and high price of precious metals, even a small variation in composition accuracy can be expensive. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers help provide reliable analysis – and unlike other testing methods, are completely nondestructive. They can test the purity and chemistry of all precious metals, including chemical analysis of tramp and trace elements, which could impact valuation and future refining needs, as well as safety.

https://www.thermofisher.com/blog/metals/top-10-most-valuable-precious-metals/

The Future of Palladium (and Palladium Futures) 

The Future of Palladium (and Palladium Futures)

The recent very sharp increase in the price of Pd has brought into public focus a situation which has been developing for some few years.

Palladium is that Pt-group metal of largest production (although notably in some South African mines, the production of Pt predominates). About six million ounces of Pd are mined each year, with mining capacity currently and contemplatively in increase, because of the giant price rises. The largest producer of Pd is Norilsk Nickel, which produces very roughly one-half of the world’s supply as a by-product from its nickel mine in northern Siberia. The only U.S. producer, and indeed the only large mine which produces primarily palladium, is Stillwater Mining, in Montana.

For many years (since about 1965), Norilsk produced more Pd than could be used, and the excess went into a secret government stash, which at one point reached probably about twenty to thirty million ounces. While the Pd was in considerable excess supply, the price fluctuated at about $100 to $150 per ounce, quite a bit lower than that of gold and platinum.

Pd has had several specialized uses (none very large), such as dental construction, electronic resistors, catalysts for various chemical applications, and even jewelry. (Pd has been used in Japan as a cheaper substitute for Pt in jewelry and the preferred 18K white gold is 25% Pd.)

Several years ago, a giant new use developed for Pd, which has changed everything. It was decided that autos had to clean up their exhaust gases, notably in unburned hydrocarbons, which cause smog and pollution. The easiest way to do this was with Pt-group metal catalytic converters, the most effective of which is Pd bearing. Thus, each car uses about one-fifth of an ounce of Pd. This market has grown rapidly over the last few years and now used very nearly all Pd mined each year. Until about the first of this year, the Russians had been supplying the difference between Pd demand (now about eight to nine million ounces) and Pd production (about five to six million ounces) from their stash. But supplies from that stash have now apparently about dried up. The Pd price rose above $250 per ounce in about April 1998, above $400 about last November, and is now about $700 an ounce, having briefly gone above $800 in late February.

The situation existing today is that auto emissions catalysts use up almost all of the mined Pd, and that demand is even still growing. There is no Pd left for the other users. The auto companies can afford a still much higher price in order to sell autos, so a bidding war for Pd has erupted. A price well above $1000 per ounce looms in the near future, and the price to be reached later this year could easily (but probably temporarily) be in the thousands of dollars, rather than hundreds of dollars, per ounce. The price on the commodity exchange is extremely volatile, with a recent short squeeze apparently having taken place, followed by exchange-forced liquidation of long positions. This market action has been mind boggling.

The only realistic long-term solution is a replacement of Pd auto emission catalysts, and other Pt-group metal catalysts (Pt, Rh, etc.) cannot suffice, because they are in even shorter supply. We will have to see and use lighter autos, smaller engines, intrinsically cleaner engines, etc. Pd is much too valuable in other very important catalytic applications to be wasted in controlling auto emissions, which can be otherwise controlled. [Editor’s Note: These “other very important catalytic application” are none other than catalytic fusion processes. —EFM]

In late February, the Tokyo Commodity Exchange issued a rather confusing order attempting to set the price of Pd at just about $700 per ounce. Since then, the price worldwide has indeed stabilized at that point. If the price continues to stay there, obviously something is going on. One possible explanation is that the Russians, who have been threatening imminent exports, have indeed sent some quantity to Tokyo, under an agreement that all sales will be at $700. This would translate into a big profit for the Russians (and also Stillwater Mining), would supply the market at a steady (though very high) price, and allow the Japanese a small profit while keeping their auto industry at work and exporting. Such an agreement could stay valid only as long as the supply satisfies the market demand, probably for a few weeks to a few months.

Obviously, if the price remains pegged, it is not a time to be playing the futures market for swings, and I contemplate getting out.

 

http://www.infinite-energy.com/iemagazine/issue30/palladium.html

Buying a Palladium Ring: Facts & Characteristics

Buying a Palladium Ring: Facts & Characteristics

 

Are you considering buying a palladium ring? Although the metal palladium itself isn’t new, the ability to work it effectively into jewelry is the result of advances in development of a cast-able palladium alloy is new. The new alloy, 950 Palladium, is ideal for creating jewelry and is malleable enough to allow jewelers to cast, mold, sculpt, and strong enough to stand up to a lifetime of everyday wear. Since 1939, Palladium has been used in fine jewelry. Palladium rings will give another alternative to white gold and platinum, silver and titanium in the panoply of white colored engagement, wedding and anniversary rings.

Do Palladium Rings Tarnish?

Palladium rings are extremely tarnish resistant.  Palladium rings are comprised of 95% pure palladium which means they do not contain the metals that cause silver to tarnish.

White gold needs to be treated with a process involving “re-rhodium” otherwise it will turn back to its yellow gold color every few years. Palladium rings feature a more radiant white than platinum and white gold which make them ideal as wedding rings. And of course one of the best things about palladium is the price – generally about one fifth of the price of platinum.  Palladium rings come in an assortment of styles, from classic, heirloom to contemporary. You’re sure to find the right style of Palladium ring with the luxe look of platinum.

For many years, those with cash to burn have opted with platinum rings for the ultimate in looks, durability and hypoallergenic characteristics. If you could not afford platinum and were willing to sacrifice hypoallergenic status to keep the fine white metal look, then the metal of your choice was white gold. With the new 950 Palladium alloy, you no longer have to sacrifice hypoallergenic properties just to get a better price. A palladium ring will retail at prices similar to white gold, but since the 950 Palladium alloy is 95% pure you will not have to worry about ring rashes or finger discomfort. In 2001, Palladium was actually more expensive than Platinum. As popularity grew, the price for Palladium rings dropped. Palladium rings are expected to continue in their rise of popularity for many years to come. For those with smaller budgets but want quality, value and beauty at an affordable price, Palladium rings are a godsend.

Your palladium ring will have a lovely steel-white sheen and will be durable enough to hold any stone secure for years to come, even if you never remove your ring. Palladium will not tarnish and is great for filigree work, allowing for a broad spectrum of designs. Palladium rings are also 12% harder than Platinum, which translates into less signs of wear than Platinum. Rings made of palladium can be up to 40% lighter than platinum. For men this might not make that much of a difference, but on slender female fingers it can be a real boon, especially if the ring bears a heavy stone setting.

More and more jewelers are bringing out lines of palladium jewelry, so the choice in design style is expanding with every season. Although palladium is much rarer than gold, market prices are still driven on the cost of gold, so palladium remains the better deal. With its lovely white metal sheen, the durability both of the ring body and prongs, the purity that delivers hypoallergenic wear, and the fact that it will not tarnish, buying a palladium ring for an engagement ring, a wedding ring, or an anniversary band is the perfect choice.

 

https://www.larsonjewelers.com/t-buying-a-palladium-ring-facts-characteristics.aspx