- Rarer than Diamonds, Ammolites are the fossilized remains of a squid-like creature called an Ammonite that used jet propulsion to travel over 65 million years ago!
- From the Paleozoic era to the end of the Cretaceous era, Ammonites jetted around the world's oceans preying on smaller forms of marine life. For nearly 330 million years, they were abundant in all of the oceans until they suddenly became extinct, around the same time as the demise of the dinosaurs.
- Ammolite is named after "Ammon", the ancient Egyptian god of life and reproduction, because the shell of the Ammonite is similar in appearance to the ram-headed deity's horns. For a similar reason (along with a legend of prosperity), the Blackfoot Tribe of North America knows Ammolite as the "Buffalo Stone".
Legends & Lore
- The legend of Ammolite goes back to the Blackfoot tribe of North America and to this day, Ammolite plays a key role in their traditional culture. Blackfoot Indian legend has it that the sacred Ammolite gemstone was a gift received from the gods. The story begins amidst a severely harsh winter with a blizzard wiping out all the Blackfoot Indian's food reserves. All the buffalo herds had moved on, and the crops had frozen up from the snow. A great famine besieged the people, and they were on the brink of starvation. Upon seeing the devastation that befell the Blackfoot people, the Great Goddess sent forth a message to an Indian princess in the form of a dream. In the dream, the Goddess directed the princess to a brilliantly coloured gemstone, and told her: "Take this stone back to your tribe, for its magic will bring with it a huge herd of buffalo that will sustain you through the winter." The princess followed the instructions given to her in the dream. After days of intrepid and perilous travel, she found the gem hidden in a cave. She removed it and marveled at its brilliance. It was truly magnificent. The sunlight jumped and danced off of its rainbow coloured skin, as the snow melted away from its smooth shiny surface. The princess hastily took the gem back to her people. The next day everyone was woken up by the earth quaking sound of stomping hooves. When coming out to see what had happened, the tribe found that a herd of over twenty buffalo had returned to pasture nearby. The people rejoiced at their salvation, and thanked the Goddess for her gift.
Through the aid of Ammolite, the Blackfoot were able to survive that particularly harsh winter and ever since, Ammolite has been commonly referred to as the "Buffalo Stone", as it signifies wealth and abundance.
- The Navajo people also carried Ammolites in their medicine bags for health and good hunting.
- The Roman historian Pliny the Elder regarded Ammolite as the holiest gemstone because it was said to evoke prophetic dreams.
Just The Facts
- Ammonites were cephalopods (predatory marine mollusks) similar to the modern Squid, Octopus and chambered Nautilus. Ammonites were able to swim, because of the unique construction of their shell, which was divided into a series of air chambers. The air in the chambers provided buoyancy for the animal to float; like modern cephalopods, they moved through the water using jet propulsion.
- Ammonite fossils are found on every continent but it is those found in and around Alberta, Canada that display the most vivid colours and are treasured as gems. Some show very intricate suture patterns, which are created by the complex walls dividing the inside of the shell. They are found in the upper Cretaceous Bearpaw formation, which has been dated at approximately 71 million years old.
- Ammolites are found in various sizes and colours. Pricing is based on size, shape, number of colours present, brightness of those colours and overall appearance. Each Ammolite gem is unique in brilliance, colour and pattern. The rarest and most desirable show three or more colours and are graded AA. Ammolites displaying one or more distinct colours or play of colours are graded A, while in B grades, colours are less distinct or they may only show directional colour. When used in jewellery, Ammolites are sometimes set as Quartz or Spinel doublets (i.e. gemstones consisting of two or more parts that have been artificially joined together to give the impression of a single gemstone) for additional strength.
- In 1908 a member of the National Geological Survey team found mineralized fossils of Ammolite along the St. Mary's River in Alberta. It was not until 1981 that enough high quality Ammolite was discovered to make mining commercially viable. The International Commission of Coloured Gemstones (CIBJO) officially recognized Ammolite as a gemstone in 1981.