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Guide to Buying an Ammolite Gemstone

August 2, 2017

What is Ammolite?

The ammolite gemstone is relatively new to the gemstone industry as it was certified as an official gemstone, one of three recognized by the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) in 1981. It is recognized as Canada’s Gemstone, but still considered nature’s sleeping beauty due to its rarity and minimal commercial presence. Every person should own a piece of ammolite jewelry because the gemstone is uniquely vibrant and colorful, where no two patterns or colors are alike. We’ve provided a guide to buying the best ammolite gemstone suited for you.

Ammolite is derived from a 70-million-year-old fossilized shell called ammonite and is composed of aragonite. The higher grade ammolite stones with an array of vivid colours can only be found in Southern Alberta’s Bearpaw Formation in Canada.

Not only is Ammolite beautiful and unique, it is one of the rarest gemstones in the word. It is rarer than tanzanite. Ammolite has been labeled a “generation” gemstone, meaning that supplies will be exhausted within one generation.

The Different Types of Ammolite

There are different grades of quality and stones for Ammolite. Lower grade ammolites will feature a fragmented or fractured exterior shell, often referred to as dragon skin. The range of color, vibrancy, and quality of consistent color is also noticeably less than the high-grade quality ammolite found in Southern Alberta.

The leader in the ammolite industry has set a standard grading system since 1979. Ammolite comes in four grades: AAA, AA, A and standard, and are based on the gem’s brilliance and a variety of color and clarity. It’s recommended to use the chart below to determine and ensure the quality of the stone.

AAA and AA account for only 3-12% of annual production. AAA grade stones are comparable to a D-flawless diamond in quality and rarity.

 Ammolite’s Multitude of Color

The iridescent color of ammolite is caused by the natural properties of aragonite. Light refraction on the gemstone creates the change in color with light passing through multiple layers of the shell and mineralization. Due to the number of layers and how the light reflects, no two ammolite gemstones are alike, each with a unique color pattern. The rarer stones are often blue, indigo or violet, while the more commonly found colors are red and green.

The Hardness of Ammolite

Referring to Mohs Hardness Scale, ammolite is naturally a delicate gemstone, with a hardness of 3.5-4.5. A natural gemstone refers to an ammolite that is polished with no treatment and is typically used for pendants and earrings. A triplet means that a polished gemstone is stabilized on the back and is covered by a spinel quartz crystal to increase the hardness to 8-8.5.

Shopping for Ammolite

Finding the right piece of ammolite jewelry is a personal decision. We recommend to pick up a few pieces of ammolite jewelry that speak to you and hold each in your hand to see the symphony of colors. Move your hand slowly from side to side to see the play of light on the ammolite gemstone. Due to the unique color pattern of ammolite, there will likely be one that you are more drawn to.

When shopping for ammolite jewelry, be sure to inquire at authorized ammolite retailers, like a member of Canadian Jewellers Association, who are well informed about the stone and grades to ensure you receive the best quality ammolite jewelry. Prior to visiting a retailer or buying online, we recommend exploring the history of ammolite and the current suppliers/producers of the gemstone. Ammolite education will ensure that during your purchase, you will be able to make an informed decision and identify if the stones are top-grade and know if they are ethically mined.

Wearing a piece of ammolite is like owning a piece of history due to its prehistoric origins. Each gemstone is celebrated as a one-of-a-kind piece of art. Ammolite has increased in value by 300% over the past decade. Once you have purchased your ammolite jewelry, it is recommended to have your piece appraised and insured.

How to Care for and Clean Ammolite

  • To minimize scratching and wear, store each piece of jewelry separately in a soft cloth or padded container.
  • Avoid exposure to direct heat.
  • Do not over-expose to water.
  • Avoid hard impact to the stone.
  • Use a soft, non-abrasive cloth to clean your ammolite jewelry.
  • Ammolite, like pearls, react to acids, hairsprays and perfumes. It needs to be stored separately from other jewelry to prevent scratching
  • Use only a pearl cleanser or mild soap with a damp soft cloth to clean. Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner.
  • Ammolite should not be immersed in water for long periods of time. Remove jewelry before showering.