Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What is Amazonite?

The other day I was showing a talented jeweler some of my pieces.  I started with the first ethnic necklace I ever bought overseas.  In 1980, I purchased a Bedouin necklace from a Jordanian business man who cleverly learned where all the expatriate women lived, and rang their doorbells to sell his wares.  That first necklace was a double strand; the inside strand having a single pendant of a light blue stone.  At the time, I wondered if it was turquoise.  The only aqua colored stone I knew was turquoise.  But "Shifty" (his apt nickname) told me it was amazonite (accented on the second syllable).  As the years went by I saw more and more amazonite in the Middle East and Africa,  and learned more about it.

old and faded amazonite
It's a type of feldspar, named after the Amazon River.  It's found in the Americas (recently Colorado);and these days, mostly Russia.  However, the amazonite I love the most are those very very ancient beads, recently excavated in Mali.   Ancient Egyptian jewelry often  features lapiz lazuli, amazonite, and gold.  The old beads are irregular in shape and often faded to a light green.

They've traveled far in time and location, and been highly valued all the while.












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