Meet Amazonite, the greenish-blue to blue-green beauty from the gemstone world. Named after the Amazon River where it was initially presumed to be found, this gemstone exudes an air of tranquillity.
Amazonite is often associated with a remarkable grid-like or parallel streaky pattern of white, which is caused by the presence of albite feldspar, lending it an extra touch of uniqueness. Boasting a vitreous lustre, Amazonite is typically opaque to translucent, offering an enchanting aesthetic appeal. Its texture is smooth, almost silky when polished, creating a rather tactile experience for gemstone lovers.
You will often see Amazonite fashioned into cabochons, a shape that highlights its gorgeous colour . You may also come across faceted Amazonite, especially when the material is translucent.
Amazonite is also known by the name 'Amazonstone'. Although it was originally believed to be found along the Amazon River, this hypothesis hasn't been verified, making it somewhat of a misnomer. It is also sometimes confused with jade and turquoise due to its similar greenish-blue hues.
Amazonite predominantly comes in shades of greenish-blue to blue-green, sometimes mottled with lighter green specks. The colour is natural and thought to result from a combination of factors, including lead impurities, water within the crystal structure, radiation, and possibly iron. A notable aspect of Amazonite is that exposure to sunlight can occasionally enhance its colour, a trait that stands in stark contrast to many other gemstones that fade under the sun.
While Amazonite takes its name from the Amazon River, significant sources of this gemstone do not exist in this region. Instead, you will find gem-quality Amazonite in countries like the USA, India, Peru, Brazil, Madagascar, Kenya, Namibia, Myanmar, Russia, Afghanistan, Canada, and Australia. One of the most notable sources is the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, where Amazonite occurs in fantastic combinations with dark smoky quartz, a sight treasured by mineral collectors.
Amazonite is a variety of feldspar (usually microcline but may also be orthoclase). Feldspars make up a large proportion of the earth's crust and are found all over the world.
An engaging feature of Amazonite is its unexpected interaction with sunlight. Contrary to many other gemstones that lose their colour when exposed to sunlight, Amazonite's colour can sometimes be enhanced by it. Notably, its attractive colour is not solely surface deep; it is thought to result from complex factors such as the presence of lead impurities, water within the crystal structure, radiation, and potentially iron.
Amazonite is not considered an exceptionally rare gemstone. Its value primarily depends on its depth and uniformity of colour, with deep, even colour being the most desirable. The presence of the characteristic white streaky pattern may also contribute to its value.
In assessing the quality of Amazonite, look for a deep, uniform colour. However, keep an eye out for fractures or inclusions of incipient cleavage, which might lower the durability of the stone. While these inclusions can cause an appealing shimmery effect, they indicate a more fragile nature.
Amazonite is not typically treated, but it may occasionally be dyed to improve or even out the colour. It can also be coated or impregnated with wax or polymers to enhance its lustre, hardness, and durability.
Imitations of Amazonite include glass and similarly coloured chalcedony, such as chrysoprase. Amazonite may be confused with jade and turquoise, but remember, jade lacks the white streaks of Amazonite and has a higher lustre, and turquoise lacks cleavage.
With a hardness of 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale, Amazonite is relatively durable but can be prone to cleavage and fracturing. Therefore, it's best to avoid harsh knocks or pressure. It is recommended to wear Amazonite in more protected settings, like earrings or necklaces, rather than rings or bracelets that might be more exposed to potential damage. When cleaning, use mild soap and warm water, and avoid abrasive materials.
Amazonite has a rich history in the realm of adornment. In Ancient Egypt, it was used in collars and rings and carved into larger tablets to be engraved with sacred writing. Even today, the relics of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo attest to this usage; his famous gold mask contains inlays of Amazonite, along with lapis lazuli and carnelian. Ancient Indian jewelry also displayed a fondness for Amazonite, especially when set in gold.
Amazonite can be confused with jade and turquoise due to its similar colour. However, jade lacks the white streaks that Amazonite often has and has a higher lustre, while turquoise doesn't have the same cleavage as Amazonite.
As a variety of feldspar, Amazonite is related to other feldspars like moonstone, sunstone, and labradorite. Each of these gemstones has its unique characteristics, although they share similar crystal structures. Unlike Amazonite's greenish-blue hue, moonstone is known for its pearly white to grey colour, sunstone for its orange to reddish-brown, and labradorite for its remarkable iridescent play-of-colour.