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Ammolite Information

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Rarer than diamond, Ammonite is the fossilized remains of a squid-like creature 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 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.

Ammonites were cephalopods (predatory marine mollusks) similar to the modern Squid, Octopus and chambered Nautilus. Ammonites were able to swim, thanks to 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 probably moved through the water using jet propulsion.

Named for Ammon – the ancient Egyptian god of life and reproduction, the shell of the Ammonite was similar in appearance to the ram-headed deitie’s horns. For a similar reason, the Blackfoot Tribe of North America knows Ammonite as the Buffalo Stone, and Ammonite plays a key role in their traditional culture and magic. The Navajo people also carried Ammonites in their medicine bags for health and good hunting. The Roman historian Pliny the Elder regarded Ammonite as the holiest stone because it was said to evoke prophetic dreams.

Ammonite fossils are found on every continent but it is those found in and around Alberta, Canada that display the most vivid colors 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.
Ammonites are found in various sizes and colors. Pricing is based on size, shape, number of colors present, brightness of those colors, and overall appearance. Each Ammonite gem is unique in brilliance, color and pattern. The rarest and most desirable show three or more colors and are graded AA. Ammonites displaying one or more distinct colors or play of colors are graded A, while in B grades, colors are less distinct or  they may show directional color.  Ammonite has a hardness of 5-6, a Refractive Index of 1.52-1.67 and a Specific Gravity of 2.8.

In 1908 a member of the National Geological Survey team found mineralized fossils of Ammonite along the St. Mary's River in Alberta. It was not until 1981 that enough high quality Ammonite was discovered to make mining commercially viable. The International Commission Of Colored Gemstones (CIBJO) officially recognized Ammonite as a gemstone in 1981.

The legend of Ammonite goes back to the Blackfoot tribe of North America. Blackfoot Indian legend has it that the Ammonite sacred stone 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 the Indian princess in the form of a dream. In the dream, the Goddess directed the princess to a brilliantly colored 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 stone 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 colored skin, as the snow melted away from its smooth shiny surface. The princess hastily  took the stone 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 of the stone. Through the aid of Ammonite, the Blackfoot were able to survive that particularly harsh winter. And ever since, Ammonite has been commonly referred to as the “buffalo stone”, as it signifies wealth and abundance.

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