What color is it?: As you can see above ammolite is a beautiful rainbow of colors from intense blue/greens to very fine orange/reds.
What is the story behind this gemstone?: This is an organic stone that, in spite of its name and origin, is not a true fossil gem material like amber. Instead, the shell from the ancient ammonite has been compressed to the point that the calcium carbonate has been recrystallized to form a new material called aragonite. For most of you this will not be important. But for gemologists you will want to take note of this fact later on. But for consumers, think of it as nature taking something old and beautiful, and making it into something new and beautiful that only occurs in one place and in one method.
Can I wear it everyday?: Yes, if the gem is set in a triplet mounting. These gems are very fragile in their native state as shown by the photograph below. So they must be set between a layer of what is generally black onyx on bottom and clear quartz on top. With these protective materials set with the gem ammolite you can wear it almost anywhere with the usual care and caution for any rare gem material.
Is it expensive?: Generally yes. The finer qualities will be quite expensive. This is a very, very rare and unusual gem material. So be prepared to pay dearly for a nice color piece of good size. The ammolite in the photograph at top measures approx. 1 inch long and costs approx. US$200.00 on the retail market. Larger pieces will be even higher on a per item basis.
Is it a birthstone?: No.
What do I need to know before going shopping?: Do not expect to find this gemstone is just any old jewelry store. You will need to find a store who deals in a lot of exotic gemstones, and/or one who has a qualified gemologist on staff who can make sure you are getting the real thing. It may take a while for your local jeweler to find you some nice stones to choose from. But be patient. This is something that no one else on your street will own so make sure you get a good one.
Source: The finest are from Alberta, Canada
Chemical: CaCO2 (calcium carbonate)
Formation: Found in rare strata of fossilized ammonite beds in ancient sea floors which have been uplifted to the Canadian highlands.
Crystal System: None
Unusual Properties: Very fine orient or pearlessence.