the ammonite factory
The Ammonite Factory was established in 1987, we created beautiful high quality jewelry as well as selling full fossils and smaller art pieces. We are featured in a KSPS special (the video is attached)
WHAT IS AN AMMONITE? WHAT IS AMMOLITE?
The term Ammonite refers to an extinct group of mollusks. These creatures, along with the dinosaurs, died out at the end of the Cretaceous Period about 65 million years ago. Their existence on earth lasted for 330 million years.
When Ammonites died, they were deposited at the bottom of the ocean and covered with sediment. After being buried for million of years, the remains of these marine organisms fossilized and left behind shells which are found throughout the world. Some of the fossils served as a nucleus for the formation of concretions. In Southern Alberta, the shells have an outer layer of beautiful colours since local geological and mineralogical processes transformed the mother of pearl into a gem called Ammolite. The mineral that forms the color is known by aragonite. Ammolite is mined in Lethbridge, Alberta, the only area known to yield gem-quality Ammolite in commercial amounts.
Ammonites with iridescent material (Ammolite), have also been found outside of Alberta. Areas in Montana, Saskatchewan, Utah, England, Morocco and Madagascar do contain colored fossils. However, when compared to Ammolite from Alberta, their color is weak. Most fossils outside the formation in Alberta are usually too thin to produce gems, too patchy in color and again not bright and vibrant enough to be considered gem-quality Ammolite.
Would you like to learn more? We have a paleontologist information section if you are still curious.
ammolite the gemstone
Ammolite is a rare and valuable organic gemstone found in southeastern Alberta taken from the shells of fossilized Ammonites, composed primarily of aragonite. This is the same mineral that makes up nacreous pearls. It is one of few biogenic gemstones; others include amber and pearl. In 1981, Ammolite was given official gemstone status by the World Jewelry Confederation. In the same year commercial mining of Ammolite began.
Ammolite comes in the full spectrum of colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. The quickly depleting world supply of Ammolite makes it a unique and memorable purchase. Ammolite is also known as Alberta’s Gemstone.
Ammolite’s iridescent colours glow with the beauty of a rainbow. Millions of years of tectonic pressure, glacial temperatures and minerals created this beautiful gem from the fossilized remains of the Ammonite shell. A glittering addition to any jewelry collection, Ammolite’s luminous qualities rival the famous black opal for colours and fire.
Each Ammolite gem is unique in brilliance, colours and pattern. Photos on the website capture only one mesmerizing facet of this spectrochromatic gem.
Ammolite, like all gem stones, should be treated gently: not soaked in water, not exposed to harsh chemicals or extreme temperatures, and cleaned only with a soft cloth.
In the late 1990's Feng Shui experts started to recognized and promote ammolite as influential stone. This influences comes from two separate beliefs based on both the Ammonite itself and the Ammolite.
Ammonites have been around and have been buried for millions of years. From this burial, Ammonite are believed to have absorbed the Earth energy and knowledge known as Qi or "Chi". The spiritual coil (observed in the center of the Ammonite fossil) allows for a constant movement and outpouring to that Qi to occur especially when displayed appropriately. Ammonites are then often known to bring stability to the wearer and the surrounding environment. When you combine color with this already Feng Shui rich fossil, gem grade Ammonites become an even more exceptionally powerful Qi source.
Ammolite can often be referred to as the "Seven Color Prosperity Stone" as each color has a separate meaning.
Reds: good luck, growth, energy and love
Oranges: creativity and libido
Yellow: balance and health
Green: growth, fertility, business, wisdom and intellect
Blue: peace, health, knowledge and faith.
Purple: power and authority.
Due to these remarkable powers, it is often desirable to either wear your Ammolite or display gem grade Ammonites within your home or office.
If you have a gem grade Ammonite that you wish to display, it is best to place it in an area of your home/office governed by the Earth Feng Shui element. Those areas would be: Southwest, Northwest, West, Northeast, East, Southeast or Center. The only exception to this would be if your gem grade Ammonite was red. In this case, it can be placed in an areas governed by the Fire Feng Shui (South area). Just ensure to avoid placing red gem grade Ammonites in the North area of your house.
Iniskim is a roughly translated word in First Nations language to mean good fortune. However, for the Blackfoot tribe, it has a special meaning in order to describe the ammolite, which is also known as "Buffalo stone" to the tribe. Ammolite is so extraordinary to these people that a legend has been created to tell the story of the buffalo stone. The legend is as follows:
Legend tells of a very harsh winter where the Blackfoot tribe faced starvation. A young woman within the tribe decided to prevent her people from this fate and thus she underwent a vision quest. While sleeping, the spirit of the buffalo entered her dream realm and revealed to her a beautiful yet powerful gemstone. The buffalo spirit told her that "if you have possession of the stone, hunger shall elude you, your health will go unchallenged, and your well-being will be unquestioned." She immediately woke from her dream and left the tribe behind in order to search for the stone. When she found the stone in a cave, the stone spoke to her and told her of ways to call back the buffalo. The young woman used the stone as directed and upon her return to camp the morning after, herds of buffalo appeared in the plains. Thus, the tribe's hardships had been diminished.
A grading system is used to maintain consistency. The Ammolite industry has yet to decide on any one grading system, however overall most systems refer to colour, brightness, play of colour, and inclusions.
The grading system used at the Ammonite Factory is from the International Gem Society (IGS). Grading is used to determine the value of the Ammolite gem. Of course, Ammolite can hold an inherent beauty that appeals to the person who observes it, regardless of the grade.
Primary colours are red, green and blue. When looking at an Ammolite gem you can see various shades of these primary colours, you could possibly see indigo, violet, pink, emerald, lime, turquoise, teal, orange, cherry, raspberry, or others. The percent of each colour can also determine the value of the gem. For example; the greater the percent of purple can increase the value because purple is the rarest color. See below for examples of graded Ammolite.
As the electron micrographs show to the right, it appears that layers of blue Ammolite are more tightly packed together than layers of red or green Ammolite. Between these stacked layers are fracture fillings that act as structural support for the aragonite. Blue Ammolite would therefore be more fragile than the stronger red layers. This information is congruent with experience with fossil restoration, as red stones are usually thicker and tougher and blue or purple stones are thinner and can break easily.
A+ Grade Gem - Reflects light brightly, with distinct colours, has predominantly one or two vivid colours with dichromatic shift and a 240 degree rotational range of color, it can have some inclusions.
AA Top Grade Gem - Bright vivid colours - 360 degree rotational range with a spectrochromatic shift. It has to be brilliant and it has to have three or more colours present, with very few inclusions. Usually only found in the blue zone when mining.
A- Grade Gem - Less brilliant colours overall - dull or dark- fragmented look when rotated under the light- 90 degree rotational range. Little chromatic shift. Many inclusions.
A Grade Gem - Definite patches of colour, Usually only one colour or variables of one colour (monochromatic) or pale or dark. Or it can have many inclusions, rotational range of colour is 180 degrees. So some colour extinction occurs. Usually occurs in the K zone of mining.
Stratigraphy And Fossil Locations
Around 70 to 75 million years ago (during the Campanian Age or Late Cretaceous period), rain falling on the young Rocky Mountains washed sediment into the Western Interior Seaway (a sea way that ran across North America, from the Arctic Ocean down to the Gulf of Mexico). The sediments accumulated and formed a rock unit. This unit is called the Bearpaw Formation which is composed of marine shale, sandstone and some volcanic ash. Ammonites are also found within this formation in dark grey layers of pyritic shale.
Some of the most rare and beautiful colored fossils are found in the Blue Zone, which is situated at the bottom 150ft of the Artica Ovata Zone. Fossils from the Blue Zone are about 83 million years old. There is a scarcity of fossils in this layer because there is no protection from iron stone concretion as is the case in other zones. This means that many fossils from the Blue Zone are unsuitable for restoration and are often incomplete. They usually require reassembly because the tectonic pressure from the layers of marine sediments broke the shell before mineralization replaced and strengthen the original organic material. This phenomenon explains why there are less Blue Zone Ammonites on the market and why their value can be quite high.